Forbidden black rice could be next superfood
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Black rice, regularly used in China but uncommon in the West, could be one of the healthiest foods, say experts.
According to the scientists, the cereal is low in sugar but packed with healthy fibre and plant compounds, which can prevent heart disease and cancer.
Centuries ago it was known as "Forbidden Rice" in ancient China as only nobles were allowed to eat it.
Today black rice is mainly used in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi and deserts.
"Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, and more fibre and vitamin E antioxidants," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted food scientist Zhimin Xu as saying.
"If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran?
"Especially, black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health-promoting antioxidants," he added.
Food manufacturers could potentially use black rice bran or bran extracts to make breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, biscuits and other foods healthier, said Xu, of Louisiana State University.
According to Xu's team, varieties of rice that are black or purple in colour are healthier.
The scientists, whose findings were presented at the 240th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Boston, analysed samples of bran from black rice grown in the southern US.