Pigmented riceA PhilRice study found that unpolished pigmented rice (red or black rice) has high phytochemical contents and health-promoting properties making it a healthier alternative to white rice.

In the study titled Healthier red and black rice: Not your ordinary staple food, 45 red rice and 25 black rice varieties collected from various provinces in the country were compared with white rice (Enolayan variety). They were characterized in terms of proximate composition, phytonutrients, and health-promoting components.

Results showed that pigmented rice has higher amounts of crude protein, crude ash, crude fat, and crude fiber compared with white rice.

According to PhilRice’s food scientist Marissa Romero, one of the authors of the study, pigmented rice is rich in antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, vitamin E derivatives, and y-oryzanol that are effective free radical scavengers. The unique color is determined by the amount of anthocyanin (also an antioxidant) in the bran layers resulting in various shades of red and black.

The researchers ranked Balatinaw with the highest anthocyanin content among all the varieties collected.

To maximize the health benefits of pigmented rice, Romero recommends that it should be consumed in its unpolished form as phytochemicals are significantly lost during polishing.

The study also proved that unpolished red and black rice are good genetic resource for the development of modern varieties with good eating and nutritional qualities.  They can also be promoted as functional foods to help improve the health of Filipino consumers.

“Our country has rich diversity of pigmented rice but their utilization as functional food has not been fully explored owing to the limited information on their phytonutrients. We conducted this research to help the public be more aware of the health benefits of pigmented rice,” Romero said.

The study was authored by Romero, Gerome Corpuz, and Henry Mamucod. It won 3rd place in the poster competition during the 24th Federation of Crop Science Societies of the Philippines Scientific Conference held in Iloilo City last June.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute