A rainbow of colored foods in your diet bestows you with some great health benefits. But what about black foods? Do they have any nutritional value?
Black foods are loaded with health-promoting compounds called anthocyanins that lower heart disease, fight certain cancer types, and even make you look gorgeous.
Interested to find out more? Here’s a lowdown of health-promoting black foods
11 Black Foods with Remarkable Health Benefits
My coffee mug is black. Usually, I associate black with strength. Some people like to wear black because it makes them look slim. Many of us have different associations with black color. But when it comes to black foods, one thing remains common, their incredible health benefits.
Without further ado, let’s see what benefits these black foods have to offer.
#1. Black Walnuts
Grown in the wild across North America, black walnuts have the highest levels of tree nut protein and a rich, bold flavor. They have higher levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and other health-promoting compounds.
Also, they are rich in iron, vitamin A, fiber, and minerals. They boost cardiovascular health, reduce cholesterol, prevent obesity, enhance a healthy balance of gut bacteria, and lower blood sugar levels.
- Add sliced black walnuts to banana bread.
- Sprinkle on carrot cake.
- Eat them with yogurt and honey.
- Blend into a paste with garlic and basil and enjoy with pasta.
- Add them to salads, desserts, and sauce to get a crunchy, earthy flavor.
Humans have enjoyed these tiny morsels for thousands of years. Blackberries were even found on the preserved remains of a Danish woman from 2500 years ago. These small fruits contain anthocyanins and have many antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
Blackberries, an excellent source of fiber, improve digestion and ease bowel movement, which is critical to bowel health. Also, they are helpful in diabetes management as they have a positive impact on insulin resistance and triglyceride levels. Moreover, they are also rich in vitamins C, E, K, calcium, and manganese. They increase insulin sensitivity, help the body burn fat effectively, and reduce obesity.
- Combine them with raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries to make a delicious salad.
- Add them to milk or yogurt to create a smoothie.
- Top them over romaine lettuce and goat cheese to make a delightful salad.
- And mix them with yogurt, granola, and lemon in a parfait.
#3. Black Rice
Beautiful to look black rice is also healthy and delicious. This deep purple-colored rice was a favorite of wealthy people in the past, and its culinary use dates back to 7000 to 9000 years ago. Black rice is a good source of vitamin E, betacarotene, niacin, riboflavin, calcium, iron, and potassium.
Anthocyanins present in black rice fight inflammation and boost cardiovascular health. Along with anthocyanins, black rice also contains zeaxanthin and lutein. These carotenoids support eye health and protect them from the harmful effects of ultraviolet radiation. Also, it improves insulin sensitivity and helps in diabetes management.
- Mix honey and black rice to make a delicious pudding.
- Enjoy black rice with mushrooms and broccoli.
- Make black rice soup and enjoy with Thai chicken.
- Combine coconut milk, black rice, and mango to make a tasty parfait.
#4. Black Olives
Olives or stone fruits have a very high vitamin E content and antioxidants. These black jewels are also rich in copper, calcium, iron, sodium, and beneficial antioxidants.
Olives contain around 75 percent of fats in the form of oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid. This healthy fat has several health benefits, such as reduced inflammation, cancer-fighting properties, and reduced risk of heart disease.
Studies say that olives protect against osteoporosis which causes bones to become brittle and weak. Rich in vitamin E, olive oil makes skin soft, supple, and plump. Moreover, olives lower cancer risk, including breast cancer, reduce Alzheimer’s disease, and aids in diabetes prevention by controlling blood sugar levels.
- Slice olives and use them as a pizza topping or over sandwiches.
- Add olives to pasta.
- Stuff olives with cheese and enjoy it as an appetizer.
#5. Black Dal
Also known as urad dal, black dal had its origins in India, and today, it is still an essential ingredient in Indian cuisine. Black dal is oval-shaped and 1/4 inch in length.
It is rich in iron, calcium, and vitamin B and helps increase bone mineral density. Likewise, the fiber content effectively controls glucose levels and helps prevent diabetes.
Enriched with potassium and magnesium, it effectively boosts heart health. Urad dal being a diuretic helps maintain healthy kidneys and is also suitable for the nervous system.
- Make dal makhani, an Indian dish that includes light coconut milk, black dal, Basmati rice, and kidney beans.
- Try a Mediterranean version and make a black lentil salad.
- Use it with feta and cucumber and enjoy a tasty salad.
#6. Black Sesame Seeds
Having its origins in Asia, black sesame gained popularity worldwide because of its nutritional benefits. The seeds are rich in protein, fiber, calcium, magnesium, copper, phosphorus, and iron.
Black sesame seeds are usually left whole, so they are crunchier and have a strong flavor. Emerging research shows these nutritious seeds have more lignans and beneficial unsaturated fatty acids than their hulled counterparts.
Black sesame seeds are rich in antioxidants and fight oxidative stress. Chronic oxidative stress could lead to conditions of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Also, black sesame seeds may help improve blood pressure.
Sesamol and sesamin present in Black sesame seeds have anti-cancer properties. Sesame seed oil may help promote healthy hair and skin since they contain beneficial nutrients such as iron, zinc, antioxidants, and fatty acids.
Try adding sesame seeds to steamed broccoli, stir fry, crackers, smoothies, yogurt, hummus, and bread and muffins.
#7. Black Grapes
Mainly cultivated for making wine, black grapes also form a delicious healthy snack. These juicy fruits have been grown for over 6000 years in Asia and the Americas. Black grapes are rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, manganese, and copper.
Likewise, they are rich in an antioxidant called resveratrol which effectively enhances brain and heart health. Antioxidants protect against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, and heart disease.
Resveratrol reduces cholesterol, stabilizes blood pressure, and lowers the risk of heart disease, thus improving cardiovascular health.
Another compound, pterostilbene present in black grapes along with resveratrol, fights against obesity. Also, these compounds enhance energy levels and promote the growth of good bacteria in the gut.
- Add them to fruit salad.
- Use black grapes to enhance the color and sweetness of the cheese plate.
- Slice them and add to chicken or tuna salad.
- Toss them into a green salad along with pineapple, blue cheese, pecans, and strawberries.
#8. Black Garlic
Black garlic has been in use for centuries. Fresh garlic gets changed into its black version by a reaction called the Maillard reaction. During this process, the cloves of garlic achieve a distinct black color and become softer, sweeter, and chewier.
While black garlic may contain less of its active compound allicin, it has a higher concentration of beneficial nutrients, antioxidants, and beneficial compounds.
Black garlic can help manage blood sugar levels and help prevent kidney dysfunction, diabetes, and more. Likewise, it reduces triglycerides and cholesterol levels and lowers the risk of heart disease.
Studies have found that antioxidants in black garlic reduce colon cancer cells’ growth and even block free radicals in the body. Also, the antioxidants fight inflammation and improve brain health. It prevents conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, black garlic may rebalance liver cells size and reduce fatty deposits in the liver.
- Mash black garlic with potatoes or spread it on a toast.
- Substitute fresh garlic with black ones in your favorite recipes for a smokier flavor.
#9. Black Dates
These Middle Eastern treasures have an attractive oval to a cylindrical shape. And range from bright red to yellow when raw and soon turn black once they’re ripe. They have zero cholesterol, very little fat, and highly beneficial nutrients such as vitamins A, C, B1, B2, B3, and B5. Likewise, they contain minerals such as calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, and sulfur and are rich in protein.
Black dates contain both soluble and insoluble sugar, which increases good bacteria in the gut. The insoluble fiber eases digestion while the soluble fiber reduces cholesterol levels. These black fruits are rich in carbohydrates and natural sugars, boosting your energy levels and forming the best pre-workout food you can depend on. Also, black dates prevent anemia, promote brain health, and strengthen bones. Also, they are suitable for your hair and scalp. Eating a couple of dates a day increases hair volume, shine, and strength.
- Enjoy a sweetness tucked banana dates smoothie.
- Make tahini date salted caramels.
- Add dates to delicious kale and quinoa salad with citrus and almond dressing.
- Try Mandarin orange tarts with almond date crust.
- Enjoy a simple vegan chocolate date smoothie.
#10. Black Figs
Available in early spring through early winter, black figs boast of a host of beneficial nutrients. Since ancient times, they’ve been associated with health and fertility and have been symbolically associated with the Greek god of fertility and agriculture. Not only do they satisfy your sweet cravings, but they also have a host of health benefits.
Figs being high in potassium reduces sodium imbalance and lowers high blood pressure. In addition to their high fiber content, figs are also rich in prebiotics and help improve your gut health.
Being rich sources of calcium and potassium, they increase bone density and prevent conditions such as osteoporosis. They are naturally fat-free, cholesterol-free food and are rich in Vitamins A, C, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium.
- Enjoy figs fresh as a snack, or toss them into a salad or sandwich.
- Slice figs lengthwise, season them with honey and bake for 40 minutes to enjoy them as a tasty side dish.
- Prepare figs by cutting them into small pieces and mixing them into the dough. Use tase prepared figs in loaves of bread, muffins, and cookies.
#11. Black Chocolate
Black chocolate has no added milk solids. The less sugar and more cocoa the dark chocolate has, the more bitter it tastes and is touted as a healthful snack. High-quality black chocolate has a host of nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese.
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants such as polyphenols, catechins, and flavonols. Since they are a powerful source of antioxidants, they fight free radicals. The flavonoids in dark chocolate stimulate the endothelium to produce nitric oxide, which relaxes arteries, improves blood flow, and reduces blood pressure.
Studies show that cocoa powder reduces bad cholesterol and increases good cholesterol. A study found that eating dark chocolate twice or more times a week reduced calcified plaque in arteries, thus reducing the risk of heart disease.
High flavonoid content in cocoa increases blood flow to the brain and improves brain function. Likewise, the substances like caffeine and theobromine present in dark chocolate help boost brain function. Eating black chocolate could increase your beauty. The bioactive compounds in cocoa protect skin from sun damage, improve blood flow, and increase skin density and hydration.
- Try salted dark chocolate tart, hot cocoa, dark chocolate pumpkin truffles, and shortbread hearts.
- Top dark chocolate over pomegranate seeds
- Make chocolate mint sandwich cookies and dark chocolate pudding.
Try including these nutritious black foods in your diet and enjoy all the benefits they offer.