Black rice is a variety of brown rice with dark grains, rich in mineral salts and fibers. Tradition traces the origins of this ebony rice to China, where it was considered a noble and delicious food grown exclusively for the emperor, for this it was also called "forbidden rice". Also in Italy some varieties of black rice are grown, the most famous one is the Venere rice obtained by crossing a variety of black Asian rice with one of the Po Valley; its name is a tribute to the Goddess of Love as aphrodisiac properties are attributed to this particular dark rice. But let's discover what are the benefits that black rice brings to our organism and how best to cook this super food that is very good for our health.
Main varieties of black rice
Here are the main varieties of black rice that you can easily find for sale:
Venere rice: this is the best known variety of black rice produced in Italy. It originates from the crossing of the Chinese black rice and and a white rice cultivated in the Po Valley, and it is cultivated mainly in Vercelli (Piedmont). From the crossing between the Venus rice and an "indica" rice (that is a rice with elongated shape), comes the black Artemide rice, cultivated mainly in the province of Novara.
Nerone rice: a brown rice that is one of the most cultivated in Italy, it has the same characteristics of Venere rice but it is larger, comparable to the rice used to prepare risottos.
Thai black rice: this is a rice that is grown in the north of Thailand, it has very black and crispy grains that give off a particular smell of hazelnuts.
Healthy characteristics of black rice
Black rice is a variety of brown rice with a higher content of fibers, mineral salts and vitamins compared to refined rice. Its dark color denotes the presence of antioxidants, in particular the anthocyanins, which we find in large quantities also in blueberries. Among the mineral salts the presence of selenium, iron, zinc and manganese which help to prevent aging and diseases is very high, while for the vitamins, black rice abounds in vitamin B1 and B2 and vitamin PP (niacin). It also does not contain gluten and has few sugars, so it is ideal for people suffering from celiac disease and diabetes, but also for elderly people and children, especially for its high digestibility. Its caloric intake is about 377 calories per 100 grams of product. But here are all the properties of black rice.
Black rice provides an antioxidant action and helps to prevent heart-attacks: the anthocyanins contained in black rice, which give it its dark color, are powerful antioxidants that help prevent cancer and heart-attacks, as well as fighting the harmful effects of free radicals and therefore cellular aging. The low sodium content also makes it suitable for those people suffering from hypertension.
Black rice is suitable for celiac people and those suffering from diabetes: black rice does not contain gluten, it is therefore recommended for those suffering from celiac disease, and provides our body with the right amount of proteins and complex carbohydrates that do not alter glucose levels, which makes it an ideal food for those suffering from diabetes.
Black rice provides an anti-inflammatory action and fights bad cholesterol (LDL): black rice also has an anti-inflammatory effect: the consumption of this cereal has in fact been associated with a decrease in inflammatory compounds. The presence of antioxidants, on the other hand, helps to reduce the levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) with benefits for the heart and arteries.
Black rice fights constipation and improves digestion: the dietary fiber contained in black rice is useful to prevent constipation and helps to solve problems related to poor digestion, thanks to the high digestibility of this cereal. The dietary fiber also increases the sense of satiety, which makes it an ideal food for those who want to lose weight.
Black rice purifies the liver: Eating black rice helps to cleanse the body and purify the liver from toxic residues that could damage it.
How to consume black rice and where to find it
Black rice has longer cooking times than traditional white rice, you will need to cook it from 40 to 50 minutes in boiling water, or 25 minutes with the pressure cooker. Anyway, before cooking it, rinse it and drain it.
Black rice is excellent when paired with vegetables, shellfish, fish and seafood, and it is very used for the preparation of salads and soups. If you want to use it to prepare a risotto, you should not toast it, but after cooking it should be sautéed in a frying pan with the seasoning for 10 minutes. During cooking, its intense aroma recalls the smell of freshly baked bread.
You can buy black rice in organic food stores and some supermarkets, or buy it online on specialized food websites.