White rice is an important staple food globally. It is a rich source of energy but is low in dietary phenolic antioxidants. This current research aimed at providing scientific evidence for an alternative rice dish that has increased phenolic-antioxidant health-promoting potential by combining white rice with red cowpea beans and cooking with dye sorghum leaves hydrothermal extract, as a source of natural colorant. Boiled white rice and the rice–cowpea–sorghum extract dish were freeze-dried, and the free and bound phenolic compounds of raw and cooked samples were extracted. Phenolic composition, total phenolic content (TPC), and antioxidant activities (measured by 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical scavenging capacity, Trolox equivalent antioxidant capacity, and oxygen radical absorbance capacity methods) of the raw and cooked samples were determined. Combining white rice with cowpea seeds and sorghum leaves extract significantly (p
< 0.0001) increased the TPC and antioxidant activities of the rice due to the higher TPC and antioxidant activities of cowpea and sorghum leaves. Although boiling caused substantial losses of flavonoids and anthocyanins in the rice–cowpea–sorghum extract composite meal, the resulting dish had higher TPC and antioxidant activities than boiled white rice. Compositing white rice with phenolic-rich pulses can be an innovative approach to providing alternative healthy rice dishes to consumers.
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