For a number of years now, nutritionists have spoken about ‘eating by colour’, and by that they don’t mean green people should eat green things and white people only white.
We now know that certain minerals and naturally occurring chemicals in meat, fruit and vegetables give them their colours.
For example, it’s the iron in meat that makes it red. A lot of people think that their reason meat is red is because of the presence of blood, but in fact a protein called Myoglobin gives it that colour. When meat is raw, the myoglobin (which the body uses to store oxygen in muscle cells) holds iron that is in a ‘plus 2 oxidation’ state, when we cook meat, the iron atom loses an electron and changes to a ‘plus 3 oxidation’ state. That’s why it gets darker. The darker the meat, the more iron and oxygen, both of which give muscles the energy they need when they want to move.
A plate filled with a wide rainbow of colours means you are hitting a number of your bodies nutritional requirements in one go. If your plate of food could be best described as ‘neutrals with a touch of brown’, you need to get some bold reds, greens or purples in there to liven things up.
One colour (OK technically it’s a tone but be hush) that we don’t often think of when we think about food is black.
Black foods, like black soyabeans, black berries and black rice get their colour from anthocyanins; plant pigments that may help lower the risks of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Black foods are also high in anti-oxidants, the magic bullets needed to keep us young looking and cancer free.
Here are 3 great edible black things to add to your plate that will give your body a boost and increase your street cred with Goths.
No one wants colon cancer. As cancers go, it’s one of the least sexy, and that’s saying something. Doctors know that a sluggish bowel is bad for business. Body business. Luckily, there are black beans. Just one cup of cooked black beans provides 60% of your daily fibre needs. That means a swifter digestion process, a better bowel movement, a healthier you.
Chinese cooking has used black beans as a flavouring for millennia. Beef in black bean sauce is a classic of Chinese cooking and a standard in Chinese restaurants around the world. But you don’t have to use them merely as a condiment. Black beans are chewy and tasty by themselves. They are very high in folate, so pregnant ladies should add them to their diet from the start of their pregnancy. And they are packed with protein. In fact the protein-plus-fibre combination is what makes this humble little bean so amazing. Black beans are super highly rated in the blood sugar regulation index because of the way they break down in the gut. Studies have shown that black beans help to patients with Type 2 diabetes, as well as those on a low GI diet. There is also plenty of magnesium to assist with the prevention of heart disease, and who wouldn’t want that?
For a tiny seed, black sesame packs a MIGHTY nutritional punch. High in calcium, magnesium, zinc and copper, black sesame is a genuinely remarkable food. For years it has been used in Asian cooking as a paste, often as a sweet as in ice-cream. In the West this little gem is a relative newcomer and yet, a quarter of a cup of unhulled black sesame seeds will provide 35 percent of your daily calcium requirements. Mixed into yoghurt or in with your cereal, this nutty powerhouse has been found to assist with increased bone density, to reduce the occurrence of airway spasms in asthmatics and to improve sleep patterns. For menopausal women, black sesame is a must add to the plate. Magnesium reduces the likelihood of tension and migraine headaches and protects against osteoporosis.
Black garlic is not naturally occurring. It is ordinary white garlic that has been caramelized by being heated over several weeks. The taste is simply sensational. If you are a garlic lover, think sweet garlicky flavor meets mildly balsamic flavor and you have it. Garlic itself is incredibly good for us. The sulfides in garlic assist with keeping our blood flowing well, and our insides healthy. Garlic is a naturally occurring antiseptic, too. Raw garlic can be deadly (too much of anything is never good) but delicious cooked garlic with mushrooms, a bit of butter and some fresh pasta…now we are talking. Of course garlic and black garlic are also anti-oxidant, and in Thailand black garlic is believed to make you live longer. If you are a bit of a foodie and you like to entertain, your guests will LOVE the addition of black garlic to any dish, try making homemade black garlic ice cream or even black garlic chocolate sauce. Very food fashion forward.
A plate of blackberries served with black garlic ice-cream after a meal of black squid ink pasta with black beans, sprinkled with black sesame may sound like a meal right out of a Tim Burton film, but it will also offer up an anti-oxidant feast for your body making it the perfect meal for anyone feeling a little….blue……