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If you’ve been hanging around the gluten-free set lately, you’ve probably heard a lot of people singing the praises of rice, especially brown, black and wild rice varieties.  Last week, we gave you a primer on brown rice and why it’s so much healthier than white rice, and this week, we’re going to give you the skinny on black rice.

While white rice is essentially brown rice with most of its nutrients polished right out, black rice is a horse of a different color–and consequently, a nutritional powerhouse. Uncooked, black rice (also called “Forbidden Rice”) is just that–black–but cooked, it turns purple; so not only is it pretty on your plate, it’s full of things like antioxidants that brown rice just doesn’t have.  Black rice is a lesser-known variety of rice but it’s no less potent.  It contains a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanin, which gives it its pigment, and happens to be the same antioxidant that adds the beautiful color to fruits like blackberries, blueberries and cherries.  It also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been linked to all sorts of health benefits, like lowering cholesterol and the prevention of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.  On top of all of this, it’s high in iron.

Antioxidants prevent oxidative damage to cells from free radicals that can damage our cells and DNA and are a factor in most (if not all) degenerative diseases.  Studies are showing that black rice has even more anthocyanin than blueberries, and like us, you’ve probably been trying to eat as many of those as possible, right?  Well, now you’ve got another choice, and it could just be the focus of your meal.  Black rice has less sugar and more fiber than berries, so it’s a great way to meet some important nutritional needs and enjoy doing it.  Also, antioxidants can be water-soluble (blueberries) or fat soluble (soybeans), but black rice has both, which means you’re getting more from your meal.  If you’re still not convinced, let us share this little nugget of information: Black rice is somewhat lower in calories than brown rice.  A 1/3 cup serving of dry, black rice has about 200 calories, while the same amount of brown rice has about 227.  We know, it doesn’t seem like much, right?  But according to, consuming an extra 27 calories a day over the span of a year can add up to a 2.7 pound weight gain.

If you decide to take the black rice plunge, you might want to cook it just a little longer than your white or brown varieties.  If you’re using a rice cooker to make your black rice (or brown, for that matter), you should add about 1/4 cup more water or broth.  This is because rice cookers are generally made to cook white rice, which has no hull.  If you happen to be serving your black rice with something coconut-ty, try using coconut water or some coconut milk to cook the rice.  It adds an extra pop of flavor.  You might also try mixing some black rice with white or brown, to add some color and wow to your meal.

While Brown Bag isn’t telling you to ditch your brown rice, we do think you should give black rice a try.  Why not?  You’ve got nothing lose, and a whole lot of antioxidants and fiber to gain.  Enjoy!