Allowing Yourself to Enjoy Forbidden Black Rice

Black rice (Oryza sativa) is also known as purple rice or forbidden rice. It shares the genus Oryza with brown rice and other types of rice, and belongs to the Poaceae family, bamboowild ricewheatcorn, oats, barley, millet, and rye, plus many other grasses.

People have eaten rice since 2500 BC. Rice production originated in China, and was spread to countries such as Sri Lanka and India. Rice was likely brought to West Asia and Greece in 300 B.C. by Alexander the Great’s armies.

Black rice has been grown since 140 BC. Its name comes from dark color when raw, which becomes a deep purple when cooked. Black rice was once known as forbidden rice because it was served only to Chinese Emperors and was forbidden elsewhere. It was also known as “tribute rice” because farmers would present it as an offering to the emperor.

Black rice was headed for extinction in the 20th century because younger people were migrating to China’s busy cities and farmers were devoting their fields to white rice hybrids offering higher and more profitable yields.

Convinced it could make the growing of black rice profitable for farmers if it distributed it to restaurants, Lotus Foods arranged to have it grown by contract. Then the company began importing black rice to the United States in 1995, and it caught on with avant-garde chefs. Black rice is now widely available, and even noodles made from black rice are available today.

Black rice has more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than other rice varieties. It offers all of the health benefits of brown rice, along with some serious antioxidants.

Black rice can:

  1. Fight free radicals. Black rice is an excellent source of manganese, providing 187% of the Daily Value per 100 grams. Manganese is a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase. A spoonful of black rice bran contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber. Found in dark blue, red, and purple foods, anthocyanin antioxidants show promise for fighting heart disease, cancer, and other diseases, along with improving focus and memory, and a variety of other health benefits. Anthocyanins are water-soluble, and can work throughout your body without the presence of fat. Lastly, the antioxidants in black rice have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help prevent and diminish a variety of diseases linked to inflammation. Peonidin in black rice is a powerful antioxidant that fights damaging free radicals, and may fight inflammation and cancer. Malvidin in black rice may also kill cancer cells.
  2. Promote heart healthMagnesium in black rice helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, which is especially important in keeping your heart rhythm steady. It also promotes normal blood pressure. Thiamine in black rice also coordinates the activity of nerves and muscles and supports proper heart function.
  3. Give you energy and strengthManganese in black rice facilitates protein and carbohydrate metabolism. Magnesium helps regulate blood sugar levels, and is involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Thiamine in black rice maintains your energy supplies. Phosphorus in black rice helps you use carbohydrates and fats and synthesize protein; it also helps with energy storage, muscle contraction, heartbeat, and nerve conduction.
  4. Build strong bonesManganese in black rice facilitates formation of bone. Magnesium in black rice keeps bones strong. Phosphorus in black rice helps in the formation of bones and teeth.
  5. Support your immune systemMagnesium in black rice supports a healthy immune system.

Nutrients in 100 Grams Black Rice



Daily Value


3.743 mg



143 mg



0.413 mg



264 mg



76.17 g


vitamin B6

0.509 mg



4.308 mg






7.5 g


pantothenic acid

1.493 mg



3.4 g



0.277 mg



1.8 mg



1.4 mg



268 mg



20 µg



2.5 g



33 mg



0.043 mg



4 mg



0 mg


Black rice is available in bulk at Whole Foods and online through Amazon.

Due to its low moisture content, properly stored black rice should keep without losing quality for as long as 1 to 6 months. Store in a sealed container in a dry, dark, and cool place. Alternately, store it in the refrigerator and it will last a bit longer.

To prepare black rice, first soak it for 3-22 hours. Combine 1 3/4 cups of water, 1 cup soaked rice, and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand covered for a few minutes. Fluff and serve.

With its nutty flavor, black rice makes a great rice pudding, and is used in other sweet dishes. You can also use it any way you would use brown rice.

This blog uses the latest nutritional data available from the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), and the FDA (United States Food and Drug Administration), as well as nutritional data provided by food growers and manufacturers about their products. We believe the information on this website to be accurate. However, we are not responsible for typographical or other errors. Nutrition information for recipes is calculated by Living Cookbook based on the ingredients in each recipe based on statistical averages. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin and freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

This blog is not a substitute for the services of a trained health professional. Although we provide nutritional information, the information on this blog is for informational purposes only. No information offered by or through this blog shall be construed as or understood to be medical advice or care. None of the information on this blog should be used to diagnose or treat any health problem or disease. Consult with a health care provider before taking any product or using any information on this blog. Please discuss any concerns with your health care provider.

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