Superfood 101: Black Rice!

Black rice has been known as the Forbidden Rice in China for millennia because it was only served to the Emperors. Research done by Judith A. Carney reveals that the grain was imported to the Carolinas in the United States with the slaves who established it as a crop. Of all rice varieties black rice is the most nutritious, having the highest content of protein and fiber and being rich in many nutrients. It is known in Ayurveda as Njavara and is found to be one of the best medicinal foods for the months of July and August. Ayurveda also uses black rice to cure eye, nerve and muscle related diseases and as an aid in panchakarma treatment. Holistic healers find black rice a valuable tool in their arsenal of healthy foods -- not only for its nutritional value but because it has a low glycemic index, has almost no fat content and is free of gluten and wheat.

One-quarter of a cup of uncooked black rice contains one hundred sixty calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 34 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein and four percent of the daily recommend value of iron. These nutrients make it a healing grain and it has many benefits to a healthy body.

Here are five reasons to get more black rice in your diet:

1. Black rice is rich in antioxidants and is the only rice that contains anthocyanin, which improves memory and lowers the risk of heart disease and cancer. Antioxidants rid the body of free radicals, which cause the cells to become deformed and grow into cancer cells. They also reduce the levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol.

2. Vitamin E is also present in black rice, which contributes many benefits to the body. It is essential to keep a healthy immune system, aid in ocular health and maintain healthy skin. It is a fat-soluble vitamin and is also an antioxidant.

3. Black rice is an excellent source of fiber that is also known as bulk or roughage, which contributes to a healthy digestive system. It keeps the colon clean by increasing the bulk of the stool which also lessens the incidence of constipation. It is filling, thus it reduces the tendency to overeat and helps in weight loss.

4. High in iron content, black rice is beneficial to the circulatory system. It helps to produce red blood corpuscles and is the essence of hemoglobin which transmits oxygen from the lungs to the cells. It aids in the development of cells, which is essential in growing children.

5. Black rice is beneficial in reducing the risk of Type-2 diabetes. It takes longer for the sugar in the grain to be absorbed into the body. This allows the body to regulate the flow of insulin. It also helps to balance blood sugar levels.

Black rice can be found in health food stores in bulk and packages and in Asian markets. It is a delicious addition to the diet and adds color and flavor to many dishes.