Acai and goji berries have been getting a ton of attention lately, but there’s another super food out there you might consider adding to your diet: black rice. Doing so is as easy as taking dishes that call for white or brown rice and subbing in black.
Black rice is chewier than other rices, with a nutty taste and floral undertones. Lore has it only emperors could eat it in ancient China because of its rarity and nutritional value. If anyone else was found eating it, they could be sentenced to death, which is how it got the name “forbidden rice.”
But back to nutrition! The rice derives its value from the hull, which gets its distinct purple-black color from an anthocyanin. Anthocyanins are the water-soluble pigments responsible for reds, blues, and purples in most plants, and are known flavonoids, a.k.a. plant-derived antioxidants.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, anthocyanins can help reduce blood pressure, protect against liver injuries, improve eyesight, prevent cancer by scavenging free radicals and inhibiting the propagation of existing cancer cells, and act as anti-inflammatories and antimicrobials. So basically, you should be doing whatever you can to make them a steady part of your diet.
Additionally, black rice is high in iron, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, and Vitamin E, and has more protein than its other rice cousins—even brown rice. Plus, it trumps other foods rich in flavonoids like blueberries and red wine because it’s lower in sugar.
Black rice takes only about 30 minutes to cook. But if you want its benefits in even less time, you can buy it in noodle form, which you can be ready in under five minutes. Add the noodles to a ramen broth or make them the foundation of a pasta dish like Plated’s recipe for Black Ramen Noodle with Sweet Peppers and Sesame-Scallion Sauce shipping in August.
So whether you’ve got 30 minutes or four, it’s a simple addition. And probably time to make black rice a familiar presence on your dinner plate.