Organic pigmented Thai rice and wild rice are commonly available in specialized Italian markets and food shops, and they are gaining popularity among consumers demanding healthy foods. Indeed, the typical colour of kernels, which is the unique characteristic of pigmented cereals, is due to the accumulation of pigments that are also responsible for a number of healthy effects. The aim of this study was to provide a portrait of two organic pigmented Thai rice varieties from Thailand and one wild rice variety from Canada, imported into Italy and at Italian consumers' disposal. To this end, the proximate composition and the content of health-promoting compounds, such as carotenoids, anthocyanins and phenolic compounds, were determined in Thai and wild rice. Moreover, the effect of cooking on phytochemicals was assessed, in order to provide reliable data on the dietary intake of bioactive compounds by samples under investigation. Results show that studied samples have a content of phytochemicals higher than white rice and comparable to other cereals. The cooking process determined a decrease of bioactive compounds in all varieties under investigation. However, some samples were found more resistant to cooking stress, and some phytochemicals were little affected by this process. Therefore, pigmented Thai and wild rice may represent a valuable source of healthy compounds and an alternative to other wholesome foods required by consumers.
Keywords: Thai rice; anthocyanins; carotenoids; phenolic compounds; pigmented rice; wild rice.