Nutrition & Food
BLACK BERRIES are among the top ten antioxidant rich foods. Its polyphenol antioxidants regulate metabolism and keep you trim. They are an excellent source of vitamins C, A, E, K, minerals and fibre. So we have better digestive health, a strengthened immune defense, a reduced risk of Type II diabetes, prevention of heart disease and haemorrhoids. Polyphenols may help prevent breast and cervical cancer too, while anthocyanins in berries help memory retention. So indulge in this berry tasty, nutrient dense food – as a snack or dessert. They contain only 62 calories per cup. BLACK SQUID INK Well, you love your calamari. But did you know that squids produce ink as a defence mechanism. Add it to food to create a black sheen and deep flavor called umami. Squid ink is rich in antioxidants, iron, glutamic acid which prevent bad LDL buildup and lowers the risk of heart disease. Black Burger Buns have become all the rage in the Far East. The dough is mixed with bamboo charcoal and topped with black squid ink sauce. They are filled with paprika, tomato and beef and taste yum. BLACK PEPPER Yet another of the world’s 50 healthiest foods that is native to India. Pepper is today the most widely used spice in the world. It was once used as currency and presented to the Gods as an offering. Just as you sneeze if you sniff at a whole handful, black pepper seasoning stimulates you tastebuds and whizzes off an alert to your stomach to increase hydrochloric acid, essential to your digestion. So goodbye acidity, gas, constipation, diarrhoea. Healthful ingredients such as magnesium, iron, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin K and fibre not only add flavour to your meals (and preserves it too) but relieves respiratory disease, anemia, impotency, muscular strain, gum disease, vitiligo, insect bites. As an added bonus, it breaks down fat cells to keep you slim. It’s best to DIY. Grind whole peppercorns rather than buy readymade powder which not only lose their zing but may be adulterated.
BLACK / DARK CHOCOLATE (and we’re talking at least 75% to 90% cocoa content) bursts with arginine, the amino acid that controls weight and keeps hair shining. There are flavonoids too (8 times more than strawberries) which protect the body from aging by free radicals, which can also damage the heart. Nitric oxide (present in dark chocolate) relaxes Blood Pressure and lowers the bad LDL cholesterol by 10%. The fat saturated content oleic acid, palmitic acid and stearic acid surprisingly does not impact cholesterol. Dark chocolate lifts your spirits too, because it releases feel-good endorphins, happy serotonin, and the stimulant theobromine. Isn’t it amazing that something that tastes so good can be so good for you?
BLACK SESAME SEEDS The Chinese begin their day with a tonic made from ground black sesame seeds mixed with hot water as a little fountain of youth. Ayurveda uses sesame to arrest ageing and greying hair. They’re tiny cholesterol fighters, chockful of sesamin, sesamolin and dietary fibre. They support cardiovascular and respiratory health, reduce inflammation; protect against colon cancer and osteoporosis. A quarter cup offers these minerals: 125 mg of magnesium (32% of your daily requirement) 350 mg of calcium (with hulls) (35% of your daily requirement – and more than a cup of milk) 1.5 mg of copper (74% of your daily requirement) 2.5 mg of zinc (15% of your daily requirement) All these micronutrients regulate your blood pressure, lessen tension and migraine headaches, help regulate sleep patterns, and build collagen (the compound that keeps skin cells youthful and plump). The Japanese are using black sesame seeds in ice cream and crème brulee…
BLACK GRAPES Their dark hue comes from flavonoids. More vibrant the color a grape, higher is the percentage of flavonoids. Quercitin and resveratrol are the two flavonoid compounds which are believed to decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases. They work by decreasing the formation of blood clots in the arteries and platelet clumping and preventing oxidation of LDL cholesterol which is the main initiating factor for damaged and hardened arteries. Grapes also hike up nitric oxide levels which helps keep penile arteries supple. Grape skin is rich in phenolic compounds that help inhibit a group of enzymes called protein tyrosine kinases which maintains cell regulation and also hinders constriction of blood vessels thereby reducing the blood flow to the heart. Saponins – phytonutrient compounds present below the skin of grapes bind with cholesterol and prevent its absorption. They help to curb inflammatory pathways and protect against heart disease and cancer. Grapes also help to combat hypertension, protect against lung cancer, lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, and act as anti-aging agents. BLACK BEANS figure among the world’s 50 super faoods. Also known as pinto beans, they are rich in flavonoids, protein and fibre all the better to prevent Type 2 diabetes, keep your heart healthy, your arteries plaque free and prevent colon cancer. Soaking the beans in water and then throwing off the soaked water helps get rid of the indigestible starch called oligosaccharides that cause flatulence. After which you can cook the beans in fresh water over a stove or in a pressure cooker. But we in India, instinctively knew this didn’t we? In Brazil, which is the world’s biggest producer of pinto beans just beating India, people eat half a cup a day. Two cupfuls a week is good enough to derive all the health benefits black beans offer. BLACK RICE Three thousand years ago it was the food of the Emperor of China, but forbidden to the common man. With a nutty flavor, black rice which turns purple when cooked, contains vitamin B, niacin, vitamin E, calcium, iron and zinc in higher levels than the common white rice. It is rich in anthocyanin antioxidants, which are water soluble and so reach every nook ‘n’ cranny of your body. May help protect against cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. The health benefits are in the bran and it can be powdered and dusted on fish or pancakes. So is black going to be the new brown?
BLACK OLIVES One gentleman who prided himself on being something of a gourmet, decided to refine his son’s tastebuds by offering him black olives as a treat or reward. Within a couple of months, when asked to choose between olives and sweets, the boy plumped for the former. “Healthy and elegant!” exclaimed his delighted dad. The difference between green and black olives is that the black are allowed to ripen fully before being harvested and processed. Black olives burst with flavonoids, polyphenols, vitamin E, mono unsaturated fats, fibre and iron. Don’t be worried about the salty flavor, because it is within the recommended range. So what do we have here? A flavourful anti-inflammatory food which lowers cholesterol and strengthens your cardiovascular system. The ancient Chinese used them to treat coughs. Heart healthy olive oil is made from pressed black olives. You can use it for Greek salads, pizzas, tapenade spread; bake them into your bread – or into any Continental dish that you want to make special. BLACK VINEGAR originated in China and spread across Asia. It is made by fermenting brown rice, wheat and sorghum, and allowing it to age to release a complex rich mellow smoky flavor. The acids reduce hypertension, LDL (bad) cholesterol, improve blood circulation and may protect against cancer. The Japanese made a lighter version called kuroza which can be drunk.
(shiitake) are yet another super food among the world’s 50 healthiest. They have been used medicinally by the Chinese for 6000 years and are a symbol of longevity in Asia. Black shiitake mushrooms are believed to have anti tumour, anti-viral properties and may help relieve arthritis and allergies because they are abrim with B vitamins, iron, selenium and copper. They can protect against cardiovascular disease (including hardening of the arteries). To keep their nutritional goodies intact don’t overcook. Just sauté for seven minutes and relish the rich smoky flavor. BLACK CURRANTS come from a shrub, and have a pleasant tart taste. The high levels of anthocyanins and vitamin C (3 times more than oranges) make them a disease busting antioxidant powerhouse – anti diuretic, anti diarrhoea, anti rheumatic, anti uric acid, anti exhaustion, anti menopausal symptoms, anti heart diseases. Dried black currants are high protein, low fat, high fibre with copper, manganese and potassium, too. They help lower the risk of type-2 diabetes, cholesterol, digestive disorders and osteoporosis. Make a tonic of one tsp of dried black currants and 250 ml of water. Cook till it bubbles for 30 minutes. Drink up in a day. It is great for your skin. BLACK TEA It’s a super food too, made from oxidized leaves which are fermented and dried, after which they turn black. Black tea was used as currency in Asia because it keeps its flavour and colour for years. It contains antioxidants called catechins which protect the artery walls against damage and prevent the formation of blood clots, and pushes up good HDL cholesterol; manganese which helps cardiac function; polyphenols which prevent the formation of carcinogens (specially of oral, stomach, prostate, breast cancers) and kills malignant cells, leaving normal cells alone. They stop Irritable Bowel Syndrome, banish acne better than harsh benzoyl peroxide, and build stronger bones. New research suggests that black tea may protect against Parkinson’s Disease too. Together with polyphenols, tannins in black tea fight infection, have a therapeutic effect on gastric and intestinal disease, act as antibiotics to prevent tooth decay and keep the breath sweet. Unlike coffee, the small amount of caffeine in black tea regulates blood flow to the brain without overstimulating it. The theophytin perks up energy. Theamine helps you to relax and concentrate and reduces levels of the stress hormone cortisol. You will see results after quaffing 4 cups daily for a month. So drink up knowing black tea is a healthful brew.
So you’re aware that wearing black makes a guy look trim and dandy and a gal sexy ‘n’ svelte. But did you know it is also the glossy colour of tasty and nutritious foods, which have been around forever, but have been rediscovered as a particularly...