A regular diet of black rice could well replace expensive fruits like blackberries and blueberries on our menu as suppliers of health-promoting anthocyanin antioxidants.

A research team at the Louisiana State University has revealed that black rise could be a cheaper alternative to these berries as black rice bran was found to increase antioxidants in the body to the same levels as the fruits.

A spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful or blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants, says Dr. Zhimin Xu of the University.

"If the berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran?" The rice bran would be a unique and inexpensive way to increase people's intake of antioxidants that promote health," says Xu in a news release.

The team of researchers led by Xu analyzed samples of black rice bran in southern United States and found that it contained anthocyanin antioxidants, chemicals that fight cancer and heart disease.

The researchers believe that their experiments could result in food manufacturers using black rice bran or its extracts too bolster the health value of breakfast cereals, beverages, cakes and cookies.

The brown rice bran contains high levels of gamma-tocotrienol and gamma-oryzanol, component chemicals of Vitamin E compounds that are known to be antioxidants. It has been scientifically proved that antioxidants reduce blood levels of "bad" cholesterol or LDL and helps fight heart disease.

The latest research suggests that black rice could be even healthier than brown rice with pigments in black rice bran extracts also being capable of producing a variety of colors, meaning that it could be a healthier option to artificial food colorants.

Black rice is largely used across Asia for noodles, sushi, and food decoration and Xu feels that it should be a part of the menu for all Americans too. The study, which was presented at a medical conference in Boston last week, is currently undergoing the peer-review process before publication.