Black Rice – Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Parul Dube

July 22, 2022

Black rice, also known as purple rice, emperor’s rice, or forbidden rice, is a range of rice types of Oryza sativa. Black rice gets its dark purple colour from the pigment anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties. Oryza sativa is the cultivated form of wild rice. It comes in various colours like red, white, brown, and black. The reason for these colours is different types of pigments in the grain’s outer layer.

Black rice has been part of Asian traditional food since ancient times. It is considered royal food in many Asian cultures. However, according to historical evidence, it first appeared in Chinese culture and eventually got a place in many Asian cultures.

Due to its rich flavour and colour, it was considered food for royalty in Asian history. As a result, it became exclusive food for wealthier groups. Later, it lost popularity and got the name ‘forbidden rice’. 

Depending upon its growth, black rice has different tastes in different regions. But usually, they are slightly nutty in flavour, more like brown rice.

The HealthifyMe Note

As it was once solely available to the aristocracy in Ancient China, people referred to black rice as forbidden rice. Because of its low yield, black rice is still rarer than other types of rice. However, the fact that people used it in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years makes it distinctive, even if they no longer reserve it for royalty.

Nutritional Properties of Black Rice

As per USDA, the nutritional properties of one hundred grams of cooked black rice are:

  • Energy: 356 kCal
  • Protein: 8.89 g
  • Total Lipid (Fat): 3.33 g
  • Carbohydrate: 75.56 g
  • Iron: 2.4 mg

The HealthifyMe Note

Black rice has the highest protein in comparison to other types of rice. In addition, it is rich in iron, calcium, potassium, carotenoids, amino acids, fatty acids, antioxidants, flavonoids, etc. The abundance of these essential minerals in black rice makes it highly beneficial. It significantly helps the human body during the growth and development stages.

Health Benefits of Black Rice

Improves Eye Health

Black rice contains anthocyanin and vitamin E, which help maintain eye health. With the high amount of lutein and zeaxanthin, the two most essential carotenoids, eye health can improve or maintain. A good amount of antioxidants and carotenoids also helps protect eye cells from the ill effects of UV radiation. They also may play an essential role in mitigating poor vision with age. 

Research has also shown that lutein and zeaxanthin play a key role in protecting the eyes from blue light. It is imperative in today’s world, where screen time has increased drastically.

Anticancer Properties

The anticancer properties of black rice are due to anthocyanins. Studies on the anticancer properties of black rice have given substantial evidence on the anticancer properties.

The evidence is particularly strong for colorectal and breast cancer. However, it requires more research for conclusive evidence that black rice can combat cancer. Cancer is essentially overgrown cells. Research has suggested that phytochemicals in black rice may help suppress the growth of cancerous cells in the body.


For those people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, black rice can be a good source of minerals and nutrition. Black rice is naturally gluten-free and is safe for consumption.


Fibre is essential for your body and overall health. For example, studies have shown that fibre is effective for easing constipation. According to another research, bacteria in your gut feed on this undigested fibre.

These are good bacteria and help in a lot of metabolic activities that your body is not capable of performing. As fibre is abundant in black rice, including it in your diet can bring several health benefits. 

Helps Lose Weight

Since it is rich in fibre, black rice can be a catalyst for weight loss. As explained above, the human body does not have the necessary enzymes to digest fibre; instead, bacteria feed on it. As a result, fibre stays in your gut longer than any other nutrient. That makes you feel full and consequently eat less.

As a result, the calories you put in your body decrease, which eventually helps in weight loss. In addition, research has suggested that anthocyanins help reduce body weight. Another study has provided evidence for the weight loss properties of black rice.


There are various reasons for which black rice is good for your heart health. For example, inflammation is a major cause of various heart-related diseases.

Research has shown that black rice can play a crucial role in preventing inflammation in the body and hence help keep your heart healthy. 

Bad cholesterol is another major factor that causes heart problems. Studies have shown that black rice can decrease bad cholesterol levels and hence decrease the risk of heart-related ailments.

Plaque buildup in arteries is also a significant cause of heart-related problems. This plaque obstructs blood flow and prevents the heart from functioning properly. A study on mice showed that black rice could significantly improve plaque levels. 

Some research indicates that regular intake of black rice can lower blood pressure levels.

Help Heal Wounds

Black rice is also effective in dealing with the wear and tear of the skin. They also have some anti-ageing benefits. Preliminary research has given some evidence pointing in this direction. However, more research is warranted to get conclusive proof.

Enhances Cognitive Function

Oxidative stress can have a severe impact on the functioning of your brain. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress in the body and help improve cognitive health. Black rice has anthocyanins in large quantities that have antioxidant properties. 

A study on rats showed how black rice effectively improved cognitive function. A study on humans also suggested that regular black rice intake may help prevent cognitive decline.  

Diabetes Management

The Glycemic index (GI) measures how much sugar a particular food releases into the blood. A GI of 55 or less is considered safe for people with diabetes. 

Black rice has a GI of just 42.3. That means that it is slowly digested by our body, helping in the slow release of glucose in the blood and preventing the sudden rise of sugar levels in the blood. Research shows the effectiveness of black rice in preventing type 2 diabetes. Black rice performed as effectively as a commonly used diabetes management drug.

Improve Respiratory Health

Black rice also improves your respiratory tract. They are also effective in treating asthma. 

A Korean study provides evidence for this. The study claims that black rice helps reduce inflammation across the respiratory tract. Also, it loosens mucus and makes the pathway clear.  

Healthy for Your Liver

An excessive fat buildup in the liver can cause a condition known as fatty liver. If not treated, this affects your health. Black rice can be effective in treating and preventing a fatty liver.

As per research, black rice improved the metabolism of fatty acids and reduced triglyceride and cholesterol levels. 

The HealthifyMe Note

Black rice is rich in proteins, minerals, and vitamins, providing impressive health benefits. For example, its Anthocyanin pigments protect your cells against damage, help reduce inflammation and the risk of cardiovascular diseases, and boost heart health and overall fitness.

Common Allergies

Allergy to black rice is not very common. However, some people report some allergies. They are:

Food Protein-Induced Enterocolitis Syndrome (FPIES)

They are commonly known as FPIES and result from grains. Young children of age 3 or 4 are most vulnerable to it. Common symptoms of FPIES include vomiting, diarrhoea, weight loss and dehydration.  

Skin Allergies

Skin allergies from black rice are common in children. These may include rashes and skin redness. In addition, it may also cause oral allergy syndrome and even anaphylaxis (only in rare cases).  


Black rice can contain arsenic absorbed from the soil. Therefore, you should cook the rice in a significant amount of water to avoid the consumption of arsenic. In addition, you should soak and wash them thoroughly before cooking. 

The HealthifyMe Note

There are no specific allergic components in black rice per se. However, some varieties of black rice may trigger the allergies above. Therefore, you should check for yourself if you have a rice allergy and decide if you should eat black rice. You can also consult a doctor for the same.

Ways to Consume Black Rice

It is easy to consume black rice. You can always eat black rice by boiling them like regular white and brown rice. Combining pulses and black rice is one of the most beneficial for maintaining good health. Alternatively, you can also serve black rice as a part of many dishes like the following:

  • You can use it in sushi instead of white rice, enhancing the dish’s taste.
  • Black rice soup goes best with Thai chicken.
  • Black rice gratin also fits with porcini mushrooms and broccoli.

You may use it in any recipe that asks for quinoa, brown rice, or wild rice. You may also use it as a foundation for pasta dishes, replacing the pasta with black rice. Add a cup of cooked black rice to make any salad meal more substantial and healthy. To serve it as a breakfast option, pour hot or cold almond milk (or coconut milk) over black rice and top with nuts and fruits. Plus, you may use it as a filler in any soup or stew that asks for pasta, orzo, or quinoa.

Healthy Black Rice Recipes

There are essentially three ways you can cook your black rice. First, you can cook it as your usual rice, like pasta and as a pilaf. Below are the recipes to cook it, like pasta and pilaf. 

Black Rice Preparation for Pasta Recipes

Serves: 3

Preparation Time: 1 hour


  • Black rice: 1 cup
  • Water: 6 cups
  • Kosher salt: ½ tsp


  • Combine the water, black rice, and kosher salt in a medium saucepan or dutch oven.
  • Bring to a boil, then lower to low heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the rice is softened completely (stirring regularly).
  • After draining the liquid with a colander, serve hot.

Black Rice Pilaf

Serves: 3

Preparation Time: 1 hour


  • Olive oil: 1 tbsp
  • Onion: 1, small (chopped)
  • Carrots: 2, small (cut into small pieces)
  • Celery: 2 stalks (cut into small pieces)
  • Garlic: 1 clove
  • Dried cranberries or raisins: ½ cup (roughly chopped)
  • Black rice: 1 cup
  • Water or stock: 1¾ cups
  • Pecans: ½ cup (chopped)


  • Heat the vegetable oil in a medium saucepan with a lid over medium-high heat. 
  • Add in your vegetables. Cook for 5 minutes until the onion, carrots, and celery soften. 
  • Sauté garlic, fresh thyme leaves, and a handful of dried cranberries for 30 seconds.
  • Add the black rice, water (chicken stock or vegetable broth), and salt & pepper to taste. 
  • Bring to a boil, keep it on low heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until the liquid is completely absorbed.
  • If preferred, garnish with chopped pecans/walnuts and fresh thyme leaves. Serve immediately.


Allow leftover cooked black rice to come to room temperature before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze it by bringing cooked black rice to room temperature. Then, spread it out on a parchment-lined sheet pan, freeze it for up to 2 hours, and store it in a freezer-safe container.

The Conclusion

Black rice is arguably the healthiest variety of rice available in the market. It is immensely nutritious, and with this comes wide-ranging health benefits. Regular intake of black rice benefits virtually every part of your body. It enhances cognitive function and is healthy for the eyes, the heart, the respiratory system and the liver. It also has some anti-ageing effects.

Further, it helps prevent and manage diabetes while aiding in weight loss. Moreover, the side effects of black rice are infrequent. Its versatile nature makes it easy to incorporate into one’s daily cooking. Also, due to its rich nutrient profile, health benefits and easy-to-prepare nature, one should definitely aim to include this grain in their weekly menu plan.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can black rice be eaten daily?

A. You can eat black rice daily as it contains a lot of fibre, improving digestion. Eating black rice daily helps lose weight as fibre and nutrient content are more than fat or cholesterol. Also, it is a good source of energy for adults. In addition, there are no common side effects of black rice that should prevent you from eating it daily.

Q. Why is black rice prohibited?

A. Black rice is not prohibited in any country or culture. This confusion may be because of an alternative name for black rice. It is known as forbidden rice because, in Chinese culture, it was considered royalty food, and only wealthier people ate them.

Q. Is black rice healthier than white?

A. Yes, black rice is healthier than white rice. Though, after being cooked enough, black rice may have a slightly coarse texture than white rice, it is undoubtedly more nutritious.

Q. Is black rice the healthiest rice?

A. Research shows that black rice has the highest flavonoid with antioxidant properties among all rice types, making it a nutritious choice. In addition, with almost no side effects, it is considered the best quality rice.

Q. Is red or black rice better?

A. Red rice contains more antioxidants than black rice. However, black rice is highest in flavonoid anthocyanin (pigmenting compound), which fights free radicals. Both are un or semi-milled and loaded with nutrition, fibre, and protein.

Q. Is black rice Keto?

A. A low carb, high fat diet essentially makes for a keto diet. Hence, cooked black rice is not a keto because it contains 33 g of net carbs in a half-cup serving.

Q. Is black rice good for diabetics?

A. Yes, black rice is suitable for people with diabetes. Research proves the effectiveness of black rice in preventing type 2 diabetes. Black rice is high in fibre content, making it permissible for everybody. It also has a low GI of just 42.3 (A GI of less than 55 is not harmful and does not raise sugar levels).

As a result, black rice gets digested slowly and does not increase blood sugar levels. Therefore, black rice performed as effectively as a commonly used diabetes management drug.

Q. Is black rice better than wild rice?

A. Black rice is a cultivated form of wild rice, but gluten-free black rice has the highest amount of anthocyanin. Therefore, even though black and wild rice have a great nutritional value with the protein, B complex, minerals, folate, and antioxidants, black rice is better than wild rice.

Q. Does black rice have arsenic?

A. Black rice can contain arsenic absorbed from the soil. Therefore, to avoid the consumption of arsenic, you should cook the rice in a large amount of water and wash them thoroughly before cooking.

Q. Is black rice good for kidney patients?

A. Because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, black rice protects kidneys and liver from injuries. Black rice is from ancient Chinese culture and was used to treat kidney diseases and disorders.

About the Author

Parul holds a Masters of Medical Science in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Glasgow, Scotland, and has worked across the globe from the U.K to New Zealand (NZ) gaining her License with the Health Professionals Council (HPC, UK) and the NZ Nutrition Council. From being a Gold medalist in Clinical Nutrition to being awarded an internship with World Health Organisation (WHO, Cairo, Egypt) and Contracts with CDC Parul has had a wide spectrum of work experiences. She is very passionate about Nutrition and Fitness and holds strong to her guiding mantras ‘ Move more’ and ‘Eat Food that your grandmother can recognize’!

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