So, if you’ve been on the health trail for a while now you would probably have seen things like charcoal and black foods popping up on menus, at your local juice bar, and on the shelves of your health food store.
And, while my attention has always been drawn to the more colourful and greener options……recently I’ve been crossing over to the dark side!
Fruit and vegetables come in different colours that reflect the nutrients they contain and green has always been hailed the best food to go for and we know that antioxidants are a key health benefit of brightly coloured food.
But black foods are rocking the wellness scene now as they are nutritional and antioxidant powerhouses.
Their colour pigment comes from anthocyanins, plant pigments that may help lower the risks of diabetes, heart disease, cancer and a whole myriad of diseases . Some evidence indicates that these pigments may also protect our brain as we age.
So here are some of my favourites……
The health hype has always been around green and white tea, but a good old cup of black tea also has loads of health perks. Black tea contains polyphenols, antioxidants that help block DNA damage associated with tobacco and other toxic chemicals. Studies have also shown that the amino acid L-theanine found in black tea can help you relax and concentrate better. Black tea has also been shown to reduce the levels of the stress hormone cortisol when consumed in moderate amounts on a regular basis. So there’s never been a better excuse to put the kettle on!
Charcoal is one of natures best detoxifiers and I’ve notice its been showing up more and more in juice bars over the last year. Activated charcoal is very mild on the colon, and is wonderful at cleansing the intestines. It binds itself to toxic gases, pesticides and environmental pollutants and draws all these impurities out of the body, especially when its combined with fibre. Its also excellent at relieving digestive issues like gas and bloating.
♥ It is estimated that daily use of activated charcoal reduces the toxic load of the human body by over 60%
And it’s not just some new trendy fad…ancient physicians used activated charcoal for a variety of medical purposes.
We live in a heavily toxin-filled environment and exposure to these toxins cause cellular damage, allergic reactions and compromised immunity so this is definitely one to think about!
Activated charcoal is worth checking out as it really does have a stunning resume!
♦ Black Rice
So we’ve known for some time that brown rice is good for us but guess what….black rice is even better! That’s because its bran hull contains significantly higher amounts of vitamin E, which bolsters the immune system and protects your cells from free radical damage. Also, black rice contains more anthocyanin antioxidants than blackberries and blueberries according to a study from the Louisiana State University Agricultural Centre.
♦ Black Lentils
Black lentils are a nutrition dream containing very impressive amounts of vitamins, minerals and protein and there is a massive nine grams of dietary fibre in just quarter of a cup. This soluble fibre helps lower cholesterol and also improve immune function.
Developed in Korea, black garlic has been gaining popularity with the Western foodies for some time now. It gets its colour by a fermenting process that takes around thirty days, then left to oxidize for forty days. This lengthy process causes the garlic cloves to turn black and develop a much sweeter taste and will impress even the most avid garlic hater!!
But whats really impressive is that black garlic has been found to have twice the antioxidant properties of conventional garlic helping to protect the cells from disease and slow down the aging process. Plus the compound S-allylcystien, a natural compound found in fresh garlic, was found in much greater concentrations in black garlic this is thought to help lower cholesterol and decrease the risk of cancer.
♦ Black Beans
The black bean is a very strong contender on the dark side with lots of phytonutrient benefits. The outer part of the bean is an outstanding source of three anthocyanin flavonoids that are responsible for its rich dark colour. Recent research also shows black beans provide special support for the digestive tract and particularly the colon.
Black Sesame Seeds
I’ve been using black sesame seeds for a while now as they were brought to my attention by my Acupuncturist, Dr Sun. The Chinease believe that the nutrients in black sesame seeds can help the body correct aging-related symptoms like grey hair, wrinkles, blurry vision and ringing in the ears. Many Chinese people eat black sesame seeds on a regular basis in the hope of delaying or even reversing these age-related symptoms.
They are also abundant in zinc and calcium which keeps your bones strong and helps ward off osteoporosis. The seeds also contain vitamin E which is essential for healthy skin and magnesium, which helps to reduce blood pressure.
And just a heads up…….
Grinding the seeds or soaking them over night can help make them more digestible, and the over night soaking also aids in the absorption of the minerals from the seeds.
I sprinkle them liberally over my stir-fries and noodle dishes, even salads. They are definitely my favourite garnish at the moment!
So are you ready to get acquainted with the black stuff?
You might find them a bit aesthetically frightening, but it’s so interesting exploring and experimenting with these foods and given their uniqueness they will definitely give you a culinary edge!
Have a wonderful week