Blueberries and blackberries have high levels of antioxidants, which help the body deal with potentially dangerous cellular oxidation, but scientists say they've also found a cheaper source of antioxidants for consumers: black rice.
"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," study co-author Zhimin Xu said in a news release from the American Chemical Society.
"If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran?" suggested Xu, associate professor at the food science department at Louisiana State University Agricultural Centre in Baton Rouge. "Black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health-promoting antioxidants."
The study authors noted that black rice bran could be used to boost the health benefits of breakfast cereals, cakes, cookies and other foods. It could also be added to beverages, and may serve as food colouring, allowing food manufacturers to avoid artificial colorants, the team said.
The scientists explained that pigments in black rice bran extracts range from pink to black.
In the study, the researchers tested black rice bran grown in the Southern United States. Although brown rice is the most common rice variety produced worldwide, Xu said the study results suggest that black rice bran may be healthier than brown rice bran in terms of antioxidants.
In Asia, black rice is most commonly used for food decoration, such as in noodles or sushi. One variety of black rice is known as "Forbidden Rice" because in Ancient China, it was only permitted to be eaten by nobles and no one else, according to background information in the news release.
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