We know it’s healthy to eat a rainbow of color in food, but black foods are nutrient-dense and full of antioxidants and health benefits, too!
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The Benefits of Black Foods
Black foods are in! We all know eating the colors of the rainbow is great for you, but don’t forget that black and white foods are loaded with nutrients as well. Black foods are the underdogs of foods, and it shouldn’t be the case.
Few people talk about the health benefits of eating black foods, and it doesn’t help that they might not come across as appealing to kids. The truth is, black foods are often full of antioxidants and have many health and healing benefits.
Know what these benefits are and come join the dark side!
Why Eat Black Foods?
Black foods are packed with something called anthocyanins.
Anthocyanins are pigments found naturally in food with antioxidant effects. In simpler terms, if your food is colorful or dark in color (such as black), it contains amazing nutrients.
Anthocyanins are found in all tissues of the plant — including the leaves, stems, roots, flowers, and fruits.
These pigments are powerful antioxidants that may help boost the immune system, maintain good health, and prevent the onset of diseases. They may even offer anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, and anti-cancer benefits.
You can find anthocyanins in red, blue, black, and purple-colored foods.
Now you know about the powerful properties of anthocyanins, it’s time to add them to your diet! Check out this black foods list for your reference:
1. Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil is also referred to as black caraway, black cumin, kalonji (Nigella seeds), and black onion seeds. The seeds are pungent, bitter, and taste like a combination of oregano, onion, and black pepper.
This oil comes from Nigella sativa, a small plant with pale purple, blue or white flowers that grows in Eastern Europe, Western Asia, and the Middle East.
Black seeds are beneficial because they help fight superbugs (bacteria and viruses that have become antibiotic resistant). The seeds are anti-inflammatory, anti-hyperlipidemic (lipid-lowering agent), anti-microbial, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant, anti-diabetic, anti-hypertensive, and used for wound healing.
It is also used for the digestive, immune, and central nervous systems because of its anticonvulsant (anti-seizure) and analgesic activities. People have been using this natural remedy for thousands of years because of its therapeutic benefits.
In cooking, you can use the seeds to flavor curries, pickles, bread, and sauerkraut. High-quality black seed oil is used in cooking, baking, and drinks.
Other ways to get the benefits include ingesting capsules or applying it topically to the skin. Black seed oil can be added to massage oils, shampoo, homemade skin products, and fragrances.
It is even known for helping people with skin issues like eczema, acne, and psoriasis.
Chaga mushrooms typically grow on birch trees throughout the northern hemisphere. It is black, textured (looking cracked or brittle on the outside), orange-hued on the inside, and it commonly gets mistaken for looking like dirt.
This mushroom is high in vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. These include the following:
- Vitamin D
- Amino acids
It is high in antioxidants that help improve sun damage to the skin and the signs of aging. The high amount of antioxidants helps lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as prevents and slows down cancer growth.
The antioxidants also support the immune system by stimulating white blood cells, fights inflammation, and helps lower blood sugar.
Chaga is easily available in supplement or tea form.
Other black forest mushrooms to include to your diet include black trumpet, shiitake, and wild morels (these are available dried, and once re-hydrated are delicious in soups, vegetables, and sauces).
Chia seeds are the edible seeds of Salvia hispanica, a flowering plant in the mint family, native to Central and South America. They are known to be one of the healthiest foods in the world.
Chia seeds look like tiny oval-shaped seeds with a black-grey color and spots.
When soaked, they can absorb 12 times their weight. This water-absorbing property gives chia a mucus and gel-like texture when in liquid form.
The nutrients in chia include a high source of B vitamins, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin, and folate. It has the minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, and zinc.
Chia is naturally high in omega-3 fatty acids, rich in antioxidants, and an excellent source of fiber (1 ounce has 10 grams) and protein (1 ounce has 4 grams).
You can also use them as an egg substitute by mixing 1 tablespoon of ground chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. The protein, fat, and fiber of chia seeds help keep you full longer.
Other benefits include a decrease in diverticulitis flare-ups, lowered blood pressure and cholesterol levels, stabilized blood sugar levels, less constipation, good digestion, and healthy gut bacteria. You can add them raw to cereal, yogurt, smoothies, oatmeal, and they are great in baked goods.
What is diverticulitis? This is a condition characterized by an infection or inflammation of the diverticula, which are small pouches found on the intestinal walls.
4. Black Sesame Seeds
Black sesame seeds are high in fat content, making it a good source of energy. These contain healthy fats such as polyunsaturated fatty acids and omega-6.
Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Definition: These are healthy fats that may reduce risk of heart diseases and can be found in nuts, seeds, and fish oils, among others.
They are also high in calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and fiber. Different cultures around the world use black sesame in different ways.
- In Japan, these seeds are toasted and used to make gomashio, a popular condiment sprinkled over sushi.
- In Korea, they are used to marinate meat and veggies.
- In Africa, they are typically ground sesame seeds presented together with smoked fish or lobster.
- In India, the seeds are blended with warm sugar or palm sugar, made into balls, and eaten as a snack.
- In Manipur, they are used for the preparation of a kind of thoiding and singju salads.
- In Assam, they are used to make sweet sesame seed balls.
It makes sense that they are used all around the world because they are full of benefits! These seeds are great for anti-aging (reversing or preventing aging), decreasing cancer risk, and helping relieve constipation and indigestion.
The high amount of calcium is good for your bones, helping to prevent osteoporosis. The high amount of magnesium helps stabilize blood pressure.
You can add black sesame seeds to your diet by sprinkling over cereal, noodles, and rice, or adding them to yogurt, smoothies, salads, and desserts.
5. Black Beans
High in protein and extremely tasty, black beans have anti-cancer properties and can relieve digestive issues, strengthens bones, and help control blood sugar!
Aside from protein, black beans also contain fiber which also benefits gut health. They also have quercetin and saponins which protect the heart.
Quercetin is a flavonoid known to reduce inflammation, reduce risks of cardiovascular diseases, boost the immune system, pain relief, and help prevent cancer. Meanwhile, saponin is a compound that helps lower cholesterol as well as body fat levels.
6. Activated Charcoal
Okay, so this isn’t food, but activated charcoal has all sorts of health benefits. It’s commonly made from coconut shells or other natural sources.
This is a natural treatment used for getting rid of toxins and chemicals in the body. By flushing out toxins from the body, it improves digestion, delays the signs of aging, and reduces cholesterol levels.
Activated charcoal is known mainly for being used to help with food poisoning and drug overdoses. It is also used to reduce bloating, gas, and may prevent hangovers.
Activated charcoal is popular because of the safe and effective removal of toxins and poisons from the body. You can find it in toothpaste since it can help whiten teeth, prevent cavities, bad breath, and gum disease.
Water filters also use black charcoal since it traps all the bad stuff lurking around in the water like pesticides, industrial waste, solvents, and other chemicals by filtering it through.
Some food sources you may see activated charcoal pop up in are ice cream, lattes, lemonades, smoothies and smoothie bowls, macaroons, cocktails, and donuts.
This is a food trend that is fine to eat as long as the rest of the ingredients are health-building. You only need a little bit to get the benefits, and this is not something you need or should be consuming daily in large quantities.
7. Black Garlic
Black garlic has been used for cooking and medicinal purposes in Asian countries for centuries.
These are made by aging garlic bulbs. After three weeks, they turn black and sticky and acquire a molasses-like flavor.
It also contains allicin, an amino acid which offers antioxidant benefits and contains anti-inflammatory properties. With the milder taste of black garlic, it can be swapped for its regular counterpart in certain dishes and recipes. They’re great for pizzas and pastas, too.
8. Black Rice
It’s not as popular as brown or wild rice, but black rice contains disease-fighting antioxidants, anti-inflammatory properties, and fiber.
Not only is it a great source of protein, the hull of the grain also includes high levels of anthocyanin antioxidants.
It’s also called emperor’s rice because Chinese royalties have been eating this ancient black food.
A quarter cup of steamed black rice contains:
- 2.3 grams fiber
- 32 grams carbohydrates
- 1.5 grams fat
- 0.7 milligram iron which is 4 percent DV
- 4 grams protein
Black rice helps flush out toxins from the body, improves heart health, boosts digestion and metabolism, prevents obesity, and slows down blood sugar absorption.
9. Black Mission Figs
Here’s a black colored food you can have for dessert or breakfast. Containing minerals, natural sugars, and soluble fiber, figs are ancient fruits best eaten when dried or made into jams.
Black mission figs health benefits include lowered blood pressure, weight management, better gut health, and stronger bone density.
Some of the minerals figs contain include calcium, magnesium, potassium, copper, and iron. They are also full of antioxidants, vitamins A and K, and prebiotics — all contributing to improved overall health.
As of today, there’s no need to be intimidated with dark or black foods. The benefits have been outlined for you, so it will be best if you take the step to enjoy these benefits and improve your health.
Whether you want a nutritious breakfast meal or a hearty dinner, black foods can be a great addition to your diet. Sometimes, you just have to be creative with it!
Which one of these black foods have you tried? How was your experience? Share it with us in the comments section below.