Is red rice good for you? Just like other whole grains, this superfood is fantastic for your health! Offering a delicious, nutty flavor and a beautiful color that makes it a fantastic addition to recipes, this superfood brings some healthful benefits with it.
What is Red Rice?
Like other rice varieties, red rice is a seed that comes from a form of domesticated grass. Like fruits and vegetables with red or purple colors in their skins, red rice gets its color from anthocyanins, which are rich in antioxidants.
Also known by the botanical names Oryza longistaminata and Oryza punctata, red rice is native to Madagascar, South Africa, and tropical Africa. Today it’s grown in many rice producing regions and thanks to its popularity, it has quite a few nicknames. These include:
- Cargo rice
- Bhutanese red rice
- Matta rice
- Kerala matta rice
- Rosematta Rice
- Kerala red rice
- Pink rice
- Heirloom red rice
- Camargue red rice
- Palakkadan matta rice
You might also encounter red parboiled rice, which is similar to other quick-cooking rice varieties. This has been pre-cooked and then dehydrated, so it takes far less time to prepare when you’re in a hurry.
Red Rice Nutrition
Like other rice varieties with their hulls still intact, red rice is more nutritious than white rice. Its flavor is rich and complex, and you can use it in any recipe that calls for rice.
Uncooked red rice has an average of 405 calories per cup. It is a good source of complex carbohydrates, and it is high in iron, zinc, and fiber. Other key nutrients found in red rice include:
- Vitamin B6
Red rice is also an excellent source of fiber. Whether you choose a dark colored variety or a delicate pink hulled variety, you’ll enjoy
Red Rice Benefits and Side Effects
Is red rice healthy? Absolutely! Let’s take a closer look at red and pink rice health benefits.
Great for Digestion
Thanks to the fiber in red rice, this delicious whole grain can help keep your digestive system from feeling too sluggish.
Low on the Glycemic Index
Many of us are watching carbohydrate intake and trying to stay away from too much sugar. Just like brown rice, black rice, and other colorful rice varieties, pink and red rice are far lower on the glycemic index than white rice, so you can enjoy them with less risk of a blood sugar spike. Of course it’s important to watch your protein and fat intake so that you get the right combination of nutrients, however if you’re monitoring your blood sugar or reducing carbohydrates for any reason, red rice can be a delicious, healthful addition to your diet.
Good Source of Lignans for Bone Health and Cancer Prevention
Many plants contain lignans, which are phytochemicals that have been linked with reduced cancer risk and better bone health. As it turns out, red rice is one of the best sources of lignans available, and it’s very easy to incorporate into your daily or weekly menu plan.
Good Source of Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 is essential for a number of body functions. Among the most important is the formation of serotonin, which promotes healthy, balanced emotions while helping prevent stress from taking over our lives. Serotonin improves natural sleep and helps us regulate our appetites too. Keep in mind that while red rice benefits serotonin production, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. An overall healthy, nutritious diet with plenty of folic acid and B-12, along with vitamins D, B3, and B6 will help keep serotonin production at a healthy level.
May Help Lower Cholesterol
Culinary red rice can help keep cholesterol at healthier levels when enjoyed as part of a healthy diet overall.
A supplement called red rice yeast or red yeast rice may improve cholesterol levels and benefit heart health even more, thanks to a component called monacolin K, which works like lovastatin. Red rice yeast does come with some side effects including heartburn, gas, and sometimes dizziness. It is not recommended for people who are pregnant, under the age of 18, or living with liver disease.
Protects Cells from Damage
Many red rice benefits can be attributed to the antioxidants this healthy whole grain contains. Antioxidants prevent free radicals found in air, water, food, and other substances from damaging cells and causing them to die before their natural life span has ended.
Red rice has an average of ten times the antioxidants found in brown rice! Antioxidants benefit your entire body, so it’s a good idea to consider replacing that plain white rice with a healthy red variety. No wonder this one impressive red rice benefit stands out from the rest!
As for side effects, there aren’t very many! This is a very healthy food that most people can enjoy. The only real side effect might be enjoying too much red rice at once. This food is highly nutritious but it’s also quite calorific. Watch portion sizes so that you don’t accidentally eat more calories than you meant to, particularly if your recipe contains fat such as butter, ghee, or olive oil.
How to Cook Red Rice
Cooking red rice is a lot like preparing other types of rice. You should of course take a look at your packet’s instructions but if you’ve purchased in bulk or transferred your red or pink rice into a glass canister or another container for storage, you’ll find these instructions for cooking red rice helpful.
It’s very easy to cook red rice. If you prefer to use a rice cooker, measure out 3 parts of water to 1 part of rice and use the brown rice setting. Add a little salt or spice if you like!
If you prefer to cook red rice on the stovetop, simply measure 3 cups of water and 1 cup of rice, along with a pinch of salt if you like. Bring the water and rice to a boil, then reduce the temperature to medium-low or low depending on your stove’s heat. Cover the rice and let it simmer until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Like brown rice, red rice should be tender before it is eaten.
Adding Red Rice to Recipes
Besides basic cooking instructions for red rice, you should know that you can easily substitute pink or red rice for other rice varieties in any dish you make. Use the same amount, and watch to see whether you need to increase liquid a bit or add more cooking time. Just like brown rice, red rice is fantastic for risotto, paella, Spanish rice, and all other rice-based recipes. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even consider making red rice pudding by subbing red or pink rice for the usual white or brown variety. Feel free to experiment! You’ll enjoy all the benefits of red rice when you do this.
If this is your first time cooking pink rice or red rice, don’t worry about the way the color affects the rest of your dish unless there’s an issue with presentation. When red rice is cooked, the red color from its hulls leaches out into the rest of the dish, imparting a touch of red or pink color that is likely to be most noticeable in light-colored foods. If you’re concerned or if you want to make sure that other colors stand out, feel free to cook ingredients separately and then plate everything so that your dish has a vibrant appearance to go with its wonderful aroma!
Where to Buy Red Rice
Ready to enjoy red rice health benefits and take advantage of its wonderful flavor? Some supermarkets carry red rice, and it’s very easy to find online. It’s best to choose organic red rice if possible, since you don’t want to undo its benefits by exposing yourself to pesticides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers often used in the production of conventionally grown rice crops.