Some of you best tools for fighting cancer are the natural chemicals found in vegetarian foods. And now scientist have identified a grain that is rich in cancer-fighting phytochemicals.

A study at the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center in Baton Rouge, shows that Black rice contains health-promoting substances called anthocyanins, antioxidants that may be able to boost the ability of your immune system to fend off a variety of illnesses. They are the same type of beneficial plant chemicals that are contained in blueberries and blackberries.

Except, the Louisiana researchers say, black rice is even richer in these chemicals than are berries.

"Just a spoonful of black rice bran contains more health promoting anthocyanin antioxidants than are found in a spoonful of blueberries, but with less sugar and more fiber and vitamin E antioxidants," says researcher Zhimin Xu. "If berries are used to boost health, why not black rice and black rice bran? Especially, black rice bran would be a unique and economical material to increase consumption of health promoting antioxidants."

In ancient China, black rice was known as "forbidden rice" because the ruling aristocrats reserved it for themselves, forbidding peasants from consuming this type of rice.

The researchers point out that, as in berries, the anthocyanin compounds in black rice have been shown in tests to potentially help the body fend off disease as well as cancer. They believe that food companies should use black rice and its bran extracts to improve the health-boosting benefits of cakes, cookies, breakfast cereal and beverages.

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