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Black vs. White Rice – Which is Better?

Is black rice healthier than white?

As you may have noticed on my blog, I’m not really a fan of “regular” rice, pasta, white bread, etc. These foods have a lot of “empty calories” that don’t provide your body with important nutrients. These foods have quite a few “empty calories” that don’t provide your body with important nutrients. This means that you eat a lot of calories in the form of short-chain, simple carbohydrates, but that is usually all. For example, important, satiating fibre, minerals, high-quality proteins, essential fatty acids, vitamins, etc. are missing.

These important nutrients are usually lost in processing, which is why white polished rice is also a (highly) processed product. You can also compare this to sugar – which is a processed product made from sugar cane and ultimately has little to do with the original food. Therefore, I always try to choose a healthier option. It’s a similar story with rice. But what makes the black one healthier than white?

White or black rice – which is healthier?
White or black rice – which is healthier?

Advantages of black rice

Black rice is the “better” choice in many ways, as it is usually “healthier” compared to the white sort. As a rule, black rice has 4 times more fibre and also numerous nutrients, such as arabinoxylan and β-glucan. Both substances ensure, for example, that your good intestinal bacteria called Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are supported. When rice is processed into the commonly known white rice, many nutrients, minerals, trace elements, and vitamins are lost that are retained in the black variety. On the one hand, processing has the pleasant consequence of shorter cooking time, but this can only be at the expense of nutrients. For example, rice is freed from the husk, which causes a longer cooking time, but it is precisely in the husk that the most important nutrients are found.

The black sort is actually not black at all, but rather dark purple or dark blue. You can see this in my photos. This very strong dark colour originates from the concentrated charge of anthocyanins, which you can find in the black version. Anthocyanins belong to the antioxidants called “flavonoids”, which we also know from blueberries, dark grapes, red cabbage, and purple sweet potatoes and give them exactly this colour. Anthocyanins stand for concentrated plant power and fight free radicals, protect you from inflammation and disease, and support your immune system wherever they can.

Not as black as you might think! :)
Not as black as you might think! 🙂

Disadvantages of the black sort

With rice, we should generally keep in mind the fact that is often contaminated with arsenic – more on that *here*. Arsenic is not only a so-called carcinogen but also a very strong one. Carcinogens are substances that can cause or strongly promote cancer in higher doses. With some carcinogens, the dose makes the poison, i.e. small amounts are not yet carcinogenic, but this is different with arsenic. Even the smallest amounts are carcinogenic. Therefore, you should always wash rice properly with water before cooking and, if necessary, cook it with more water and then drain it.

What about other types of rice?

All of these positive effects can be applied primarily to unpolished and unhusked sorts. Brown rice seems to be right up there with black in nutrients. Both whole-grain basmati and red rice are true nutritional wonders. You won’t find huge differences in nutrients among these four sorts.

Fun facts

“Wild rice,” on the other hand, is a “pseudo-cereal” because it is a species of grasses and is not officially counted as a rice sort! It is mainly known and widespread in North America. In contrast, the common rice varieties originally come from Southeast Asia.

In addition, black rice is also known as “Forbidden Rice”, because it was once reserved only for the emperor and the upper class because it was so precious and expensive! Plus, it has a very slight sweet note, which is why I use it in my Mango Sticky Rice recipe! If you like to eat porridge in the morning, you must try this “Black Sticky Rice with Cacao and Berries”! Yum! 🙂

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Stay healthy!
xxx Rosa

Is black rice better or even healthier than white rice? Everything you should know about this based on scientific evidence!
Black or white – which is better?

Scientific evidence and studies this blog post is based on

Chen, P. N., Kuo, W. H., Chiang, C. L., Chiou, H. L., Hsieh, Y. S., & Chu, S. C. (2006). Black rice anthocyanins inhibit cancer cells invasion via repressions of MMPs and u-PA expression. Chemico-biological interactions163(3), 218–229.

Deng, G. F., Xu, X. R., Zhang, Y., Li, D., Gan, R. Y., & Li, H. B. (2013). Phenolic compounds and bioactivities of pigmented rice. Critical reviews in food science and nutrition53(3), 296–306.

Kazemzadeh, M., Safavi, S. M., Nematollahi, S., & Nourieh, Z. (2014). Effect of Brown Rice Consumption on Inflammatory Marker and Cardiovascular Risk Factors among Overweight and Obese Non-menopausal Female Adults. International journal of preventive medicine5(4), 478–488.

Kozuka, C., Yabiku, K., Takayama, C., Matsushita, M., & Shimabukuro, M. (2013). Natural food science based novel approach toward prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes: recent studies on brown rice and γ-oryzanol. Obesity research & clinical practice7(3), e165–e172.

Tantamango, Y. M., Knutsen, S. F., Beeson, W. L., Fraser, G., & Sabate, J. (2011). Foods and food groups associated with the incidence of colorectal polyps: the Adventist Health Study. Nutrition and cancer63(4), 565–572.

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