Sunday, September 12, 2010


Relentless pursuit of antioxidant containing foods has thrown light on an unlikeliest source which is reported to be equal to blueberries in terms of this health protecting phytochemical. Ordinarily rice would never be considered as a source of anthocyanins though brown rice does contain small amounts. A variety of rice with historic connections to ancient Chines Kingdom, known as "forbidden rice" with intense black color, if not polished in the mill, is being touted as a future candidate for commercial promotion amongst the health fads. Black rice, also referred to as Indonesian rice is cultivated to a limited extent in some Asian countries for its flavor and taste. Compared to many white rice varieties, this version has non-pasty cooking characteristics. Its rich anthocyanin content and presence of higher fiber level and other nutrients like iron and vitamin E, seem to have attracted the attention of the industry looking for new products on the health platform. What is not realized is that health credentials alone do not make a product acceptable to the consumer and lot needs to be done to evolve main stream products familiar to the consumer from this obscure raw material.

"How would you like something with more anti-oxidants than blueberries for dinner tonight? If you're health conscious, sure you would. So meet the hot new food fadblack rice bran. Zhimin Xu of LSU (right) used his standard procedure — chemical constituent analysis of grains for General Mills' Bell Institute — and found a spoonful of black rice brancontains more anthocyanin antioxidants than a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar, more fiber, and more Vitamin E. It costs a lot less, too. Xu also found the pigments in black rice may be healthier than current artificial food coloring, and can be used to produce a wide variety of colors.He suggested black rice bran could also be used to boost the health characteristics of manufactured foods like cereals and snack cakes. (I'm thinking Ding Dongs.) Xu presented his findings last week at a meeting of the American Chemical Society and the reaction was immediate. The CBS lede was a bit misleading though — it's the bran that packs the punch, not the rice itself. Black rice is really just brown rice with a different pigment. The bran is the key".

Some times one wonders the direction in which food research is moving and this is a typical example of raising expectations which are bound to be unfulfilled in the foreseeable future. There are many better sources of antioxidants and they are much more preferred than rice especially amongst non-rice eating population. Even those who eat rice as staple, the consumer preference has been for white rice, polished to the maximum extent though brown rice is also consumed to a limited extent. Rice bran to day is considered a good source of edible oil and the economics of rice mills are closely linked to the income from rice bran, a by-product of the industry.


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