The momentum of the black-colored food trend has ebbed and flowed over the past few years, but it has yet to achieve full speed. Perhaps new research will change that. Black rice is a hot topic as of late due to research touting its antioxidant benefits. According to researchers from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Center, black rice was found to be rich in anthocyanin antioxidants. These are the same antioxidants present in other bluish-reddish foods (think berries and cherries or red onions).

So what's the big deal? First, black rice is cheap-much cheaper than fresh fruit. Secondly, it's black! Though black foods have been an integral part of Asian cuisine for hundreds of years, it's still exotic in America. Aside from black beans, not many foods have the striking color contrast offered by black rice. Also, black rice bran could be used as a natural food additive to add nutritional benefit to a range of products on grocery store shelves. Contrary to the name suggests, black isn't the only pigment derived from black rice-researchers discovered hues of pink, among others, which could be used as an alternative to artificial food coloring.

Aside from antioxidant properties, black rice is certainly higher in fiber and B vitamins that it's refined grain counterparts and is thought to be even healthier than brown rice. So how else can you add black to your plate? Don't forget last winter's black garlic trend, also a food rich in antioxidants. Others include_

• Black tea (derived from Oolong tea) • Black salt- goes by many different names, but contributes a strong, sulfuric flavor to dishes • Black licorice- this strong flavor not only offers some health benefit, but also means you'll eat less overall...a little bit goes a long way! • Black sesame seeds- you may have seen these on sushi or other Asian dishes, but go ahead and try them at home. These seeds are rich in protein, iron, and calcium.

Get creative in the kitchen with these antioxidant-rich additions. Enjoy!

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder ofwww.Skinnyinthecity.com. She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto www.FFactorDiet.com.

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a Registered Dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books: The F-Factor Diet and The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber.

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