Aug. 26, 2010 -- Inexpensive black rice contains health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants, similar to those found in blackberries and blueberries, new research from Louisiana State University indicates.
"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 fiber and vitamin E antioxidants," Zhimin Xu, PhD, of Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, says in a news release. "If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran?"
Xu and colleagues analyzed samples of black rice bran from rice grown in the Southern U.S.
He says black rice bran would be a unique and inexpensive way to increase people's intake of antioxidants, which promote health.
Black rice is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, substances that show promise for fighting cancer, heart disease, and other health problems, Xu says.
He adds that food manufacturers could use black rice bran or bran extracts to boost the health value of breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes, cookies, and other foods.
Black Rice vs. Brown Rice
The most widely produced rice worldwide is brown. Millers of rice remove the chaff, or outer husks, from each grain to make it brown.
White rice is made when rice is milled more than is done for brown rice; the bran is also removed, Xu says.
The bran of brown rice contains high levels of one of the vitamin E compounds known as "gamma-tocotrienol" as well as "gamma-oryzanol" antioxidants.
So black rice bran may be even healthier than brown rice, Xu says.
He and his colleagues also showed that pigments in black rice bran extracts can produce a variety of colors, from pink to black, and may be a healthier alternative to artificial food colorants that manufacturers now add to some foods and beverages.
He writes that several studies have linked some artificial colorants to cancer, behavioral problems in children, and other adverse health effects.
Currently, black rice is used mainly in Asia for food decoration, noodles, sushi, and pudding, and Xu says that he would like to see it eaten by more Americans.
Black rice bran could be used to boost the health value of foods, such as snacks, cakes, and breakfast cereals, Xu and his colleagues suggest.
This study was presented at a medical conference in Boston. The findings should be considered preliminary because they have not yet undergone the "peer review" process, in which outside experts scrutinize the data prior to publication in a medical journal.