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purple sticky rice

In short the answer is Yes! It’s always exciting to explore the unique and nutritious ingredients that are part of our rich culinary heritage. One such gem is purple sticky rice, a treat in many Southeast Asian dishes that not only adds a beautiful color to your plate but also packs a nutritional punch.

In this article, we’ll dive into what makes purple sticky rice special, its health benefits, how to spot a fake, how to prepare it and why you should incorporate this delicious grain into your diet.

What is Purple Sticky Rice?

Purple sticky rice, also known as black glutinous rice, is a type of whole grain rice that gets its distinctive color from anthocyanins, the same antioxidants found in blueberries and acai berries. When cooked, it has a sticky texture and a slightly sweet, nutty flavor that pairs well with both savory and sweet dishes.

Nutritional Profile and Health Benefits Purple Sticky Rice


  • Powerful antioxidants that give it its’ vibrant color
  • Almost 6 times richer in antioxidant activities compared to other rice varieties (4)
  • Help protect cells from damage, reduce inflammation, and may lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease and certain cancers


  • Purple sticky rice is a good source of dietary fiber
  • Aids digestion, promotes regular bowel movements, and helps you feel full and satisfied after meals
  • Just 1/4 cup of uncooked black rice contains 2 grams of fiber (5), making it valuable for maintaining digestive health and promoting satiety

Resistant Starch

  • Like other whole grain varieties, purple sticky rice contains resistant starch
  • Resists digestion in the small intestine and ferments in the large intestine
  • Acts as a prebiotic that feeds beneficial gut bacteria.

Macronutrients in a Serving

  • Carbohydrates: 34 grams
  • Fiber: 2 grams
  • Protein: 5 grams
  • Fat: 1.5 gram
  • Calories: 160 grams

How Does Purple Sticky Rice Affect Blood Sugar Levels?

One of the most interesting benefits is how it can help manage blood sugar levels and avoid rapid blood sugar spikes. Studies have shown that despite its glutinous texture, purple rice has more fiber and resistant starch compared to white rice. This means it causes a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar levels after eating.

blood sugar purple sticky rice

Key points:

  • Purple sticky rice has more fiber, resistant starch compared to white rice, causing a slower and more gradual rise in blood sugar levels
  • Anthocyanins in purple rice may improve insulin sensitivity and glucose uptake in cells
  • Purple sticky rice could be a better choice for those with diabetes or anyone looking to maintain stable blood sugar levels

Selecting and Purchasing High-Quality Purple Sticky Rice

When shopping for it, there are a few key factors to consider to ensure you’re getting a high-quality product:

  1. Color: Look for rice that has a deep, vibrant purple color. Avoid rice that appears dull or has a grayish tint, as this may indicate lower quality or older rice.
  2. Aroma: It should have a subtle, sweet aroma. If the rice has no aroma or smells musty, it may be past its prime.
  3. Texture: The grains should be intact and not broken. Broken grains can lead to a mushy texture when cooked.
  4. Packaging: Choose rice that is packaged in airtight, moisture-proof bags. This helps preserve the rice’s freshness and quality.
  5. Brand Reputation: Opt for reputable brands known for producing high-quality rice. Read reviews and check the brand’s website for information on their sourcing and processing practices.

When in doubt, purchase from a trusted source, such as a well-stocked Asian grocery store or a reputable online retailer. Proper selection and storage will ensure that you get the most out of this nutritious and delicious grain.

Spotting Fake Purple Sticky Rice

You may have seen white sticky rice that has been artificially dyed purple or mixed with a small amount of genuine purple rice as the real thing. It’s common and often seen at food stalls selling prepared food, where the vibrant, artificial hue of the dyed rice is easily distinguishable from the natural color of authentic purple sticky rice. There are several ways to identify genuine purple sticky rice. This will change the nutritional contents of rice and how it affects blood sugars differently. While they may look similar at first glance, there are a few ways to spot the difference:

  • Color: Genuine purple sticky rice has a deep, even purple color throughout each grain due to natural pigments. Dyed white rice will often have a more artificial-looking, lighter purple color that may not be consistent.
  • Texture: It should also retain a slightly chewy bite, while dyed white rice tends to be softer and less resilient.

To ensure you’re getting the real nutritional benefits and characteristic taste of purple sticky rice, buy from trusted sources and look closely for these telltale signs.

Tips for Cooking Purple Sticky Rice

steam purple sticky rice

Cooking it is a bit different from cooking regular rice. Here are some tips to help you achieve the perfect texture:

  1. Soaking: Soak the rice in water for at least 8-12 hours. This helps soften the grains and ensures even cooking.
  2. Steaming: The traditional method for cooking sticky rice is steaming.
    • Use a bamboo steamer or a steamer insert over a pot of boiling water.
    • Steam the soaked rice for about 20-30 minutes, or until it’s tender and translucent.
  3. Mixing in water:
    • Take the rice off the heat and transfer the steamed rice into a large bowl.
    • Add just enough cold water to cover the grains, but don’t make them too soggy.
    • Mix the water into the rice until it’s evenly moist.
    • Give the rice a stir and let it soften for 5 minutes.
  4. Second steam:
    • Scoop the moistened rice back into the bamboo steamer.
    • Give it another steam, covered, for about 15-20 minutes.
    • Here’s my mother’s best tip: taste a piece of the rice to make sure it’s fully cooked and nice and soft.
    • Once it’s perfect, take it off the heat.
  5. Airing out:
    • Pour the steamed rice onto a clean, flat, covered surface or counter.
    • Stir the rice to air it out for 10 minutes, preventing it from becoming mushy.
    • After airing, store the rice in a bamboo container or rice cooker to keep it warm.
  6. Storing:
    • It can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
    • To reheat, steam the rice again for a few minutes until heated through.
    • Or cover with a wet paper towel and reheat in the microwave.


Purple sticky rice is a true healthy gem in the world of Southeast Asian cuisine, offering a powerhouse combination of vibrant color, unique texture, and impressive nutritional benefits. By incorporating it into your diet, you can enjoy a delicious and versatile ingredient while reaping the rewards of its:

  • High antioxidant content
  • Fiber
  • Resistant starch

These nutrients work together to support:

  • Better blood sugar management
  • Digestive health
  • Overall well-being

In a world where processed and refined grains often dominate our diets, choosing whole grains like purple sticky rice is a simple yet powerful way to nourish our bodies and connect with our cultural heritage. So, the next time you find yourself in the kitchen, consider reaching for a bag of it.

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