When it comes to nutrition, we often hear about the benefits of colourful fruits and vegetables, but what about the unsung heroes of the culinary world—black foods? Let's delve into what makes them so good for you.
Black foods are often overlooked in favour of their colourful counterparts, but their dark hue can be a strong indicator of their impressive nutritional value. From fermented foods to whole grains, there are a range of powerhouse foods worth adding to your plate. Let’s take a look at 5 black foods you can easily incorporate into your meals – and why you’ll want to.
Black garlic is regular garlic that has undergone a transformation through a slow fermentation process involving heat and humidity. This process results in cloves that are dark, sweet, and syrupy, along with boosting their health benefits to peak antioxidant levels.
Rich in antioxidants: Black garlic contains high levels of antioxidants, which help combat free radicals in the body, reducing the risk of chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Heart health: Black garlic has been linked to improved heart health, as its powerful nutrients have been found to help lower the 'bad' LDL cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure.
Anti-inflammatory: The compounds in black garlic exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which can help with various inflammatory conditions like arthritis and eczema.
Immune support: Black garlic supports a strong immune system due to its antioxidants and antimicrobial properties.
So, add some black garlic to your soups and even spread it on your toast for a nutrient boost.
Buying black garlic can set you back quite a few dollars, so here’s a simple recipe for you to try at home:
Homemade Black Garlic
- 10 whole garlic bulbs
- Rice cooker or slow cooker with a "warm" setting
- Aluminium foil
- A small towel
- Prepare the Garlic: Start with whole garlic bulbs. Make sure they are clean and free from any mould or damage. You can use as many bulbs as you like, depending on the quantity of black garlic you want to make.
- Arrange in Cooker: Place the whole garlic bulbs in the rice cooker or slow cooker. Make sure they fit without touching the sides to allow for even heat distribution.
- Set the Cooker: Turn on the rice cooker or slow cooker and select the "warm" setting. This setting provides the ideal low and consistent temperature needed for fermentation. Do not use the "cook" setting as it will not work for black garlic.
- Cover and Leave It: Close the lid of the cooker and leave it undisturbed for about 2-3 weeks. During this time, the garlic will undergo a Maillard reaction, which is responsible for the colour and flavour change.
- Check and Rotate: Periodically check the garlic to ensure it's progressing. You'll notice the cloves gradually turn darker and become soft and spreadable. Depending on your cooker and the size of the garlic bulbs, it can take anywhere from 2-3 weeks for the transformation to occur.
- Patience: The key to successful black garlic is patience. Do not rush the process. Allow it to ferment for the full duration to achieve the best results.
- Store: Once the garlic has turned dark and soft, remove it from the cooker and let it cool. Then store the black garlic bulbs in an airtight container in the refrigerator. They can be used as needed for various recipes.
Nigella sativa, also known as black cumin, is an ancient spice known for its distinct flavour and numerous health benefits.
Digestive health: Black cumin has been used for centuries to aid digestion, reduce bloating, and relieve indigestion.
Anti-inflammatory: It has potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties, and has been linked to improving conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Allergy relief: Some studies suggest that black cumin may help alleviate allergy symptoms.
Weight management: Nigella sativa may assist in weight management by supporting fat loss and reducing appetite.
Immune system boost: It enhances the immune system's response and helps the body fight infections.
Black Sesame Seeds
Black sesame seeds are tiny but packed with nutrition – when compared to their white counterparts, they pack a far more impressive dose of antioxidants. These antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, may help protect cells from oxidative damage and reduce inflammation. When it comes to their taste, they have a rich, nutty flavour that works both for savoury and sweet – black sesame ice cream is a classic example.
Nutrient-dense: Black sesame seeds are a good source of essential nutrients like iron, calcium, magnesium, and healthy fats.
Bone health: Their high calcium content is beneficial for bone health, reducing the risk of osteoporosis.
Skin and hair: Black sesame seeds are believed to promote healthy skin and hair due to their rich mineral and antioxidant content.
Cardiovascular health: They can help maintain a healthy heart by reducing cholesterol levels and supporting circulation.
Brain function: The nutrients in black sesame seeds support cognitive function and may help prevent age-related cognitive decline.
Black rice, also known as forbidden rice or purple rice, is a type of whole grain rice with a dark black or deep purple hue.
Antioxidant-rich: Black rice is packed with antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, which have anti-inflammatory properties and protect cells from damage.
Heart health: The antioxidants in black rice may help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering bad cholesterol levels and supporting healthy blood vessels.
High fibre: It's an excellent source of dietary fibre, promoting digestive health and helping regulate blood sugar levels.
Vitamin and mineral powerhouse: Black rice contains essential nutrients like iron, zinc, and B vitamins, contributing to overall health.
Weight management: The fibre in black rice can help with weight management by promoting feelings of fullness.
Black beans are a satisfying legume commonly used in Latin American dishes, but you really can’t go wrong when adding them to your soups, curries and chillis. Yum! Not to mention the impressive health benefits:
Protein-packed: Black beans are a great source of plant-based protein, making them an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans.
Blood sugar control: They have a low glycaemic index and are high in fibre, helping regulate blood sugar levels and reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
Heart-healthy: The fibre, potassium, and antioxidants in black beans support heart health by lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Digestive health: Their high fibre content aids in digestion and may help prevent constipation.
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