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16 Interesting Facts About Black Rice

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Black rice, also known as forbidden rice or Emperor’s rice, is a rare and nutritious type of rice that has been grown in China for thousands of years. With its deep black hue, nutty flavor, and impressive health benefits, black rice is an intriguing alternative to more common rice varieties.

Here are 16 fascinating facts about this unique food:

Interesting Facts About Black Rice

Black Rice on Ceramic Bowl
  1. Black rice gets its color from anthocyanins. These antioxidants are also found in dark berries and are what give black rice its dark purple-to-black color. Anthocyanins have anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic effects in the body.
  2. It has a nuttier, bolder flavor than white rice. While it can be used similarly to other types of rice, black rice is chewier in texture and has a more pronounced, nutty taste compared to white rice. The bran hull around the grains gives it its unique flavor.
  3. Black rice contains more protein than brown or white rice. Since the bran is not removed like with white rice, black rice retains more nutrients. One cup of cooked black rice contains 9 grams of protein.
  4. It was known as “forbidden rice” in ancient China. In China, black rice has been cultivated for thousands of years. It was so rare and precious that it was reserved for royalty and forbidden for common people to eat, hence the name.
  5. Black rice has a long history as a medicinal food in China. Its health-promoting properties were recognized centuries ago. Chinese medical texts from as early as 206 BC describe black rice for treating diseases.
  6. It is a good source of antioxidants. Black rice contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than blueberries. These antioxidants can help protect cells from damage and reduce inflammation.
  7. Black rice contains anti-cancer properties. Studies show anthocyanins from black rice inhibit cancer cell growth, including preventing the spread of cancer cells. More research is still needed.
  8. It may help support heart health. Since black rice contains antioxidants that can reduce inflammation in blood vessels and arteries, it may aid in preventing atherosclerosis. The fiber content also helps lower cholesterol.
  9. Black rice can aid digestion. Since the bran is high in fiber, black rice helps promote good digestion and healthy bowel movements. The fiber content also helps control blood sugar levels.
  10. It may help boost immunity. Black rice contains vitamin E and other antioxidants that support the body’s immune system and help fight off bacteria and viruses.
  11. Black rice contains iron and folic acid. One serving provides around 10% of the recommended daily amount of iron and folic acid, making it a good choice for preventing anemia.
  12. It has more fiber than brown rice or quinoa. At 10 grams of fiber per cup, black rice contains more fiber than other whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. The bran contains much of the fiber.
  13. Black rice takes longer to cook than white rice. Due to the extra bran layers around the grains, black rice can take up to 45 minutes to prepare compared to white rice’s 15-20 minutes. Be sure to cook it sufficiently.
  14. It has a mild, pleasant aroma when cooked. While it looks charred, black rice gives off a sweet, nutty smell as it cooks. Its purple-black color transforms to a deep purple when prepared.
  15. Black rice stays fresh longer than white rice. Uncooked black rice can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 year without going bad, thanks to the protective bran surrounding the grains.
  16. It is eco-friendly to produce. Unlike white rice, farming black rice allows the soil to rest and regenerate more since it is typically grown in small amounts mixed with other crops. This supports biodiversity.

Frequently Asked Questions about Black Rice

Where is black rice grown?

Black rice is grown in several parts of Asia, including China, Indonesia, and Thailand. The two main types are Indonesian black rice and Thai jasmine black rice.

Is black rice gluten-free?

Yes, black rice is naturally gluten-free. However, some black rice products may be processed in facilities that also handle gluten, so people with celiac disease or severe gluten allergies should read labels carefully.

What are the health benefits of black rice?

Black rice is high in antioxidants, protein, magnesium, and iron. It has anti-inflammatory effects, can help regulate blood sugar levels, and has a low glycemic index. The anthocyanins in black rice also have anti-cancer properties.

How long does black rice take to cook compared to white rice?

Black rice takes longer to cook than white rice, around 45 minutes on the stove compared to 15-20 minutes for white rice. This is because black rice has extra bran layers around the grains. Be sure to cook black rice sufficiently.

What does black rice taste like and what is the texture?

Black rice has a sweet, nutty flavor and a chewy, sticky texture when cooked. Its purple-black grains turn a deep purple color once cooked. The bran gives black rice more texture than polished white rice.


Black rice is a unique type of whole grain that has been prized in China for thousands of years. With its striking color, captivating flavor, impressive nutrient content and health benefits, this forbidden rice lives up to its legendary status. As research continues to unveil its many therapeutic properties, black rice has the potential to become the next big superfood.

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