Types of Black Foods and Surprising Health Benefits

Black foods are foods that contain a pigment known as anthocyanins1. These are pigments found in black, blue, and purple-colored foods. These pigments are highly beneficial because of their antimicrobial, anti-obesity, and anti-cancer properties2.

Many types of black foods have been available in the market in recent times and are loaded with benefits. Some of them are talked about below.

1. Best Black Foods Available in the Market

1.1 Black Rice

Black rice is a type of rice that is cultivated in the Southeast Asian belt. It has a deep black color and turns dark purple when cooked. It obtains a dark purple color when cooked due to the anthocyanin pigment present in it.

Just like brown rice, black rice contains a nutty flavor too when it’s cooked. This rice can be traced back to ancient Chinese civilizations. It was popularly known as the “forbidden rice” in China as this rice was only reserved for royalty & consumed by them.

Types of Black Foods
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In recent times people have started to prefer black rice instead of white rice in their meals, as it is loaded with antioxidants and contains more proteins and nutrients than both brown and white rice. Black rice has many health benefits such as improving eye and cardiovascular health, prevention and protection against certain kinds of cancers, and at the same time can help a great deal with weight loss.

At the same time, Black rice also has a shallow glycemic index3 which implies that it will slowly release sugar in the blood which can greatly prevent any sugar spikes. This property of black rice helps prevent diabetes and keeps the body healthy. Among all the rice varieties available black rice is the healthiest because of all the reasons stated above.

1.2 Black Dal/Black Gram

Black dal has its roots in South Asia and has been cultivated since ancient times. Black Dal has been used mostly in Indian cuisine since times immemorial. They are known for being loaded with proteins, iron, and folate and can be cooked into various kinds of delicious lip-smacking dishes.

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These have a very strong earthy flavor. There are various dishes which are made by boiling them or making a paste of the gram. One of the most famous dishes in Indian cuisine made out of the black gram is known as “Dal Makhani” and is widely enjoyed & consumed by Indians.

Black dal contains antioxidants that benefit the heart, liver, and kidneys. Similar to black rice, black gram also has a low glycemic index and can be very beneficial for weight loss and diabetic people.

1.3 Black Olives

Black Olives, also known as the California ripe olives are a type of olive which are dark in colour. Originated and invented in California it is obtained when they ripen over time. Initially, the olive is green; as they ripen they turn reddish, purplish, and finally black. They have a mild and salty flavor and can sometimes taste bitter.

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Black Olives are a rich source of iron which is essential for the blood cells to transport oxygen across the body. At the same time, black olives are rich in copper which is important for the body’s heart health.

The average Western diet lacks minerals such as copper and iron hence, adding black olives to your diet can make a significant difference to your health.

1.4 Black Grapes

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Black grapes are one of the most popularly loved black foods because of their distinct and sweet taste. These grapes are comparatively richer in antioxidants and are cultivated majorly in Southern and Northern America.

Research suggests that black grapes can help you heal from illness faster. They are said to have a juicy, sweet, and muscat flavor.

1.5 Black Garlic

Black garlic is quite a sight to look at because it still surprises a lot of people that garlic can be black as well but, black garlic has much more than looks to offer.

Even though these are not naturally formed but obtain a distinctive dark colour by undergoing a process where regular garlic is placed in a controlled environment having low heat and high humidity over several weeks.

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Black garlic is beneficiary for lowering cholesterol & triglycerides levels4 which in turn helps prevent any kind of cardiovascular disease. Recent research suggests that these possess properties that protect from cell damage and help reduce the risk of cancer. At the same time, Black garlic contains almost 2X times more high antioxidants than white garlic.

Black garlic has a very rich and creamy texture with hints of tanginess, and sweetness. In simple terms, it is usually described as having an earthy flavor and robustness. They are widely used in Asian cuisine.

1.6 Black Beans

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Black beans are one of the most beneficial black foods. They are loaded with all the essential nutrients required for the body to function properly. They are native to America and their existence dates over 7000 years.

During that period Black beans were a staple diet of South and Central America. They are soft & creamy textured at the same time have a very neutral flavor because of which they taste so good when cooked as they take on the properties of the salts and spices added to make a dish.

Black lentils or beans are rich in calcium, copper, and zinc which help with bone development, structure, and support. Additionally, black beans are low in sodium which makes them helpful for blood pressure regulation5. They also possess anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and many other health benefits.

1.7 Black Sesame Seeds

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Black sesame seeds have a distinctive dark color and are primarily produced in China and Southeast Asia. These seeds are obtained from the fruit pods of the Sesamum indicum plant also known as benne.

These black seeds have numerous nutritional benefits as they are rich in antioxidants, promote healthy hair, reduce inflammation, and even have anti-cancer properties. Black sesame has a mildly bitter taste. Because of its distinctive flavor, black sesame is popular for use in a lot of dishes.

Black sesame seeds were predominantly utilized in Asia, but in recent years they have gained popularity and are now being used in cuisines around the world. Most people are aware of the white sesame seeds but black sesame seeds are proven to have more nutritional value than their white counterparts.

1.9 Black Corn

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Black corn is starchy and chewy and has glossy black skin. It is tasty, but not as sweet as contemporary types of regular corn (Yellow corn). Even though the origins of black corn are unclear it is an old variety of corn that was utilized in ancient times in places all over South America and was first grown about 2,000 years ago.

Black Corn has a pigment in it called anthocyanins, which is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help with things such as high blood pressure, diabetes, etc. It also contains essential nutrients such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorus.

1.10 Black Tomatoes

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Black tomatoes also referred to as blue tomatoes sometimes have significant antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative6, and hypnotic benefits. Additionally, they improve sperm motility and count.

Black tomatoes typically have a bit less acid compared to red tomatoes and are said to have an earthy, almost smoky sweetness to them.

1.11 Black Mission Figs

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Black Mission Figs are native to the Balearic Islands, Spain it was brought to America in the 1520s. Figs are one of the most nutritious black foods out there.

Figs make a filling meal because they have a low-calorie count and a lot of fiber. Incorporating foods like black figs in your meal may promote weight loss as it would help you stay full in between meals and avoid having any extra food. Black figs have a deep earthy flavor & are incredibly delicious and tender.

1.12 Black Pepper

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Black pepper is one of the most common condiments in the kitchen and is used by home cooks as well as professional chefs to create their finest world cuisines.

Black pepper has countless benefits as it is rich in antioxidants, helps with cholesterol, and is proven to reduce inflammation. Additionally, it is said to benefit your brain and also improve blood sugar control.

Black pepper has a distinct woody, piney flavor and a pungent, penetrating scent. It tastes bitter and hot.

1.13 Black Coffee

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Black coffee is one of the most common beverages in the West without which some people cannot perform their day-to-day activities properly. The history of coffee cultivation dates back to the Ethiopian plateau.

Black coffee is simply coffee that hasn’t had any additional sweeteners, cream, milk, or flavorings added when it’s been traditionally brewed.

Black coffee is a powerhouse of antioxidants. Although a strong cup of black coffee has a little bitter flavor compared to when it is flavored with additions, many people enjoy it. It is a regular element of some people’s diets.

1.14 Black Carrots

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Black carrots come in a few different colors, from deep purple to completely black. Some of them are completely black inside out. Others have centers that are orange or light. They all have the same crunch. When compared to the orange carrot, Black Carrot has a very distinctive flavor.

They leave behind a little spicy aftertaste and a trace of sweetness. The Black Carrot is native to India and has been cultivated there since ancient times. Like many other black foods, black carrots are also rich in antioxidants, and anti-cancer properties and can greatly improve health.

1.15 Black Seaweed

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Due to its salty flavor and chewy texture, this particular variety of algae is frequently utilized in Japanese cuisine. Surprisingly, you can also use it to thicken food naturally or to give it more nutrition.

Black seaweed pearls are also available for purchase. They resemble tapioca pearls in texture and are a vegan substitute for caviar. Black seaweed is said to have originated from China and is primarily used in Japanese cuisine.

It is the best nutritional source of iodine, which supports the thyroid gland. It also contains antioxidants that help shield your cells from oxidative stress, along with additional vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, B vitamins, zinc, and iron.

1.16 Black Caviar

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Black caviar is mainly made using sturgeon eggs. Sturgeon fish roe is referred to as black caviar because the eggs are frequently deeper in hue. It’s a relatively pricey delicacy that either tastes great or awful to most people. There are black varieties of caviar. However, the sturgeon kind of caviar is what most people refer to as “black caviar.” Black caviar incorporates various buttery, nutty, sweet, and salty flavors.

One of the world’s healthiest foods is caviar. It contains a large number of vitamins, minerals, and fats. Additionally, because of its rich omega-3 content, which improves mood, it is advantageous for those who suffer from depression.

1.17 Black Sapote

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Black Sapote also referred to as chocolate pudding fruit, is native to Mexico and is cultivated in places like Australia and other tropical countries usually as a minor crop. Black sapote fruit has a scoopable, papaya-like flesh with a flavor that is a rich blend of sweet caramel, chocolate, and persimmon when it is fully ripe. It is a very rich source of vitamin C. A 100g serving of this fruit contains 19mg, which is more than 6 times the daily requirement.

Black sapote’s antioxidant properties eliminate free radicals and defend against cancer, heart disease, stroke, and other illnesses but, one point to keep in mind is that unripened Black Sapote fruits are inedible. Only when Black sapote fruit has reached full maturity, it can be consumed raw or prepared in a variety of recipes.

1.19 Chia Seeds

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Chia seeds are an environmentally friendly, nutritious way to nourish your body. For ages, the Mayans and Aztecs used them for their nutritional advantages. Chia seeds have a moderate flavor and amplify the flavor of any food or drink to which they are added.

They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids7, fiber, and antioxidants. They can also be incorporated into any recipe. Increase the nutrient content of drinks or meals by adding them.

2. Benefits of Black Foods

2.1. Beneficial for Heart Health

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Black foods are primarily known for their property of improving cardiovascular health. Black foods contain a fiber known as “Lignan” which is known to reduce the risk of phenomena such as breast cancer, osteoporosis, and heart disease in addition is it also proven to normalize blood pressure and cholesterol.

2.2. Helps With Teeth whitening

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The majority of people are insecure or conscious about the fact that their teeth have a yellow tint to them and hesitate to show them whether it be smiling in pictures or just smiling while having a conversation.

Black foods contain activated charcoal which is said to be a natural cleanser so, as the name suggests it helps whiten the teeth naturally.

2.3. Contains Anti-Cancer Properties

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Black foods contain pigments known as anthocyanins which are prone to reduce the risk of cancer. These pigments are also found in blue and purple-colored foods. They play a key role in increasing immunity and helping the immune system.

2.4. Prone to be a Natural Detox

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One of the most common ingredients used for black foods is “Activated Charcoal”. This is a powder that is obtained by heating ingredients such as coconut shells, bamboo, or sawdust at very high temperatures.

Activated Charcoal is known for its natural detox and cleansing capabilities. It helps get rid of hangovers and primarily are known for its quality of detoxifying the body and removing all the impurities present in it by the regular bowels.

2.5. Helps Keep Eyes Healthy

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Black foods such as Black gram contain a good amount of zinc in them. Zinc is one of the most essential minerals which helps produce a protective melanin layer in the retina. The melanin that is produced helps the cells from oxidative stress8. Hence, having black foods such as Black gram in your diet could significantly improve eye health.

3. The Bottom Line

In conclusion, a variety of black foods have unexpected health advantages. Antioxidant-rich black fruits and vegetables can benefit heart and brain health. Black grains help with digestion and offer vital minerals. Garlic and other black spices, like pepper, may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Although it has cleansing qualities, activated charcoal should be used with caution. Although incorporating black foods within a varied diet might improve well-being overall, it’s important to take into account each person’s unique nutritional requirements. It is advisable to seek professional advice.

Well, now that you know the health benefits of black foods, when are you adding them to your daily diet?

  1. Castañeda-Ovando, Araceli, et al. “Chemical studies of anthocyanins: A review.” Food chemistry 113.4 (2009): 859-871. ↩︎
  2. Chung, Min-Yu, et al. “The anti-cancer effects of red-pigmented foods: Biomarker modulation and mechanisms underlying cancer progression.” Applied Sciences 12.5 (2022): 2584. ↩︎
  3. Wolever, Thomas M., et al. “The glycemic index: methodology and clinical implications.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 54.5 (1991): 846-854. ↩︎
  4. De Biase, Simone Grigoletto, et al. “Vegetarian diet and cholesterol and triglycerides levels.” Arquivos brasileiros de cardiologia 88 (2007): 35-39. ↩︎
  5. Hanson, Matthew G., et al. “Lentil consumption reduces resistance artery remodeling and restores arterial compliance in the spontaneously hypertensive rats.” The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry 37 (2016): 30-38. ↩︎
  6. D’Angelo, Costantino. “Evaluation of anti-proliferative and antioxidant potential of tomato extract against melanoma.” (2021). ↩︎
  7. Covington, Maggie B. “Omega-3 fatty acids.” American family physician 70.1 (2004): 133-140. ↩︎
  8. Storz, Gisela, and James A. Imlayt. “Oxidative stress.” Current opinion in microbiology 2.2 (1999): 188-194. ↩︎

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Chaitanya Vaddiparti

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