What is Zizania Latifolia and why is it amazing for our gut?
Zizania latifolia, or Manchurian wild rice, is an East Asian crop often found in China, Japan, and Korea. It typically grows in clusters on wet marshlands. This type of rice is not edible until the stem swells from infection from fungus. Zizania latifolia can grow to 1.5 to 3.0 meters. The seeds can be shelled to reveal a grain, while the outer layer is chewy and the inner grain is soft after cooking. It is often used in salads or mixed with grains. They must be harvested before the fungus starts to produce spores since the flesh deteriorates at this time. They are parboiled then sautéed with other vegetables and have a nutty flavour reminiscent of coconut.
The seeds of this type of rice are high in protein, fiber, and Vitamin B1, B2, and E. Swollen culm (the edible part that is infected with fungus) is high in protein. No human dietary intervention studies exist at this time, however the compounds contained in the zizania latifolia have demonstrated antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity. The dietary fiber content in zizania latifolia is higher than in white rice or red rice, and is known to aid in digestion by helping with constipation and bowel movements. The shoots, roots and the seed are even used in some parts of the world as a diuretic.
Compounds in zizania latifolia can potentially be used to modulate the gut microbiota. In a study that used a mice model, zizania latifolia was used as a treatment for the gut microbiota imbalance, which lowered metabolic disorder associated fatty liver disease in the mice.
Ways to eat it
The swollen culm of the plant can be eaten raw, or cooked.
The seed can be ground into a flour.
Stir fry or roast them alongside other vegetables for a side dish.
Use the seed portion like wild rice or in a rice bowl!
Recipe: Rice and Black Bean Bowl with Zizania Latifolia
Ingredients (Makes 4 Servings):
1/4 cup vegetable broth (use as needed)
2 cups baby spinach, chopped
2 cups zizania latifolia, cooked (seed portion similar to wild rice)
2 cups canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
1 avocado, chopped
1 cup tomatoes, chopped
Heat a large pan on medium-high heat. Add the vegetable broth to the pan, then add spinach and sauté until wilted.
Add the Zizania Latifolia seeds, beans, Himalayan pink salt, garlic powder, and cumin. Cook until all ingredients are heated through. Remove from heat.
Right before serving, gently fold in the avocado and tomatoes.
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Hou, X. D., Yan, N., Du, Y. M., Liang, H., Zhang, Z. F., & Yuan, X. L. (2020).
Consumption of Wild Rice (Zizania latifolia) Prevents Metabolic Associated Fatty Liver Disease through the Modulation of the Gut Microbiota in Mice Model. International journal of molecular sciences, 21(15), 5375. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms21155375
Manchurian Wild Rice. (n.d.) Natural Medicinal Herbs.
Yan, N., Du, Y., Liu, X., Chu, C., Shi, J., Zhang, H., Liu, Y., & Zhang, Z. (2018, June 28).
Morphological Characteristics, Nutrients, and Bioactive Compounds of Zizania latifolia, and Health Benefits of Its Seeds. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 23(7), 1561. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23071561