7 Incredible Benefits of Black Rice

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

Adding black rice to your diet is an excellent way to boost your nutritional intake and incorporate an ancient ingredient into your health regimen.

What is Black Rice or Forbidden Rice?

Black rice is a type of rice that is grown in a very limited number of countries in the world and is commonly referred to as Forbidden Rice. This name comes from the fact that it was once highly restricted, meaning that only royalty was allowed to eat it, due to its scarcity. Black rice has been an important cultural element for thousands of years and remains a crop that is grown in rather limited supply. That being said, research on black rice has shown that it has a more impressive nutrient profile than any other type of rice. Although it was once limited to the halls of power in certain Asian countries, black rice is now available in the United States, Australia, and throughout Europe, although you may pay a premium for it. [1]

Black Rice Nutrition

The nutritional composition of black rice includes a solid amount of fiber, 10 grams of protein per cup, and a very high concentration of iron, phosphorus, and zinc. A half-cup of this cooked rice also provides about 160 calories, making it an important energy resource in many countries. Most impressively, however, black rice has more antioxidants than any other rice variety. Anthocyanins in this rice are the reason that it has its black color, and this antioxidant can have a significant impact on your overall health. [2]

Black Rice Health Benefits

The most important health benefits of black rice include its effects on heart health, digestion, diabetes, weight loss, and chronic disease, among others.

Antioxidant Properties

Anthocyanins are well-known antioxidants, which have the ability to reduce oxidative stress throughout the body and prevent the negative effects of free radicals. This can lower your risk of developing various chronic diseases as well as premature aging. [3]

Improves Heart Health

This type of rice contains more fiber than other varieties, as well as a negligible amount of fat, both of which are good for heart health. Fiber helps to scrape excess cholesterol and lower blood pressure, while low levels of fat and cholesterol prevent atherosclerosis and coronary heart diseases. [4]

A bowl of black rice

Black rice is a great source of iron, vitamin E, & antioxidants. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Diabetes Control

The impressive level of dietary fiber found in this type of specialty rice can also help regulate diabetic symptoms; fiber is able to regulate the release of insulin and glucose into the bloodstream, which can cut down on the spikes and drops in blood sugar that people with diabetes must avoid. [5]

Weight Loss

Although there are 160 calories in a 1/2 cup serving of this rice, it is also chock full of fiber, which is very filling and can prevent overeating and the habit of snacking between meals. Furthermore, many of the minerals and active compounds in this rice will speed the metabolism, helping to passively burn calories and fat. [6]

Detoxifies the Body

Research has connected the presence of anthocyanins in black rice to a reduction of toxins throughout the body; this can also help to improve liver and kidney function and put less stress on those organ systems.

Aids in Digestion

Fiber is known to improve digestive function, boost nutrient uptake, and prevent symptoms like indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and bloating. Fiber stimulates peristaltic motion, while also balancing the bacterial environment in the gut. [7]

Boosts Energy

As a rich source of carbohydrates, black rice is an excellent way to provide a quick burst of energy. There is a reason that rice is such a staple food in many Asian countries; it is a dense and easy-to-eat source of carbs and bioavailable energy; black rice is no exception! [8]

How to Cook Black Rice?

To prepare this nutrient-dense rice variety at home, all you need to do is follow these simple steps.

A bowl of black rice

Delicious Black Rice Recipe

An easy and effective recipe that is power-packed with nutrients and low on carbs. 
3.6 from 5 votes
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Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: black rice
Appliance: Stove
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 2 people
Author: Sakina Kheriwala


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup black rice
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup slivered almonds optional
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cube chicken bouillon


  • Melt butter in a pan over medium heat.
  • Add black rice, diced onion, and almonds. Cook and stir until lightly roasted, for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Add water and chicken cube, bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to low flame, cover, and simmer until rice is fluffy and liquid is completely absorbed. Allow 25 to 30 minutes.
    A bowl of black rice on a red placemat


Always remember, 1 cup of black rice yields approximately 3 cups of cooked black rice.

It is interesting to note that the time and water to rice ratio required to cook the perfect black rice entirely depend on the amount of water evaporated during cooking. This, in turn, depends on your cooking environment such as the saucepan and lid you are using, the humidity in your area, the altitude you live in, etc. So, you might need to experiment to determine the ratio and timing that works best for you.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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