Mon, May 05, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Rice mutations add color, taste

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Agricultural researchers have developed various colors of rice mutated from the “Tainung 67” variety, which besides being tasty, also contains high levels of nutrients.

The Agricultural Research Institute has created a novel rice mutation pool derived from the sodium azide-induced mutant Tainung 67 rice strain.

The pool includes rice in an array of colors, such as purple-black, brown-black, dark brown, light brown and orange, Cheng Tung-lung (鄭統隆), a researcher at the institute, said yesterday.

“Among all the different colors, purple-black rice contains the highest levels of anthocyanins — a type of antioxidant,” Cheng said.

Each gram of rice encased in a purple-black husk contains 9115.6mcg of cornflower and 805.1mcg peonidin — two precursors for anthocyanins, Cheng said.

Every 100g of purple-black rice also contains 16.46 units of iron (compared to 6.3 units in ordinary white rice), 8.96 units of zinc (4.92 in white rice), 1.49 units of copper (0.91 units in white rice) and 0.15 units of selenium (0.06 units in white rice), Cheng said.

As the main nutrients of the colorful grain come from its natural colors, and as most local people favor rice with a fluffy texture and glossy appearance when cooked, the researchers have developed a special technology to preserve the rice’s colors, nutrients and soft texture, Cheng said.

Cheng said that once the colorful grain is processed — by what he called a top-secret method — it is not just pleasing to the eye, but also maintains its flavor when cooked with a certain ratio of white rice.

The colorful rice species, touted for its flavor, colors, aroma and health benefits, will be showcased at an international biotechnology exhibition this summer where its manufacturing technologies will be transferred to the business sector for mass production, Cheng said.

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