When we talk about food, one of the most exotic colors we can find is black. Have you ever been surprised with a black pasta or rice? It’s a curious experience! Today, we are going to talk about this precious and rare food color; specifically, about 22 delicious foods that are black.
Black foods are perfect to surprise your guests with something new and unique. This color is not very common in food, so it is always a shock to the eyesight, in a positive way. Moreover, as we will show, the benefits of black food are not limited to aesthetics. They are also antioxidants, delay aging and prevent all kinds of diseases.
But the first thing to know is what makes these foods black. Let’s get started!
What makes foods black?
The common thread that runs through all black foods is antioxidants. The main characteristic of these compounds is that they slow down the aging process by delaying the oxidation of cells.
Antioxidants are present in almost all black or deep purple foods. It is common in our diets to emphasize green foods as the key to healthy eating, but black foods, which are just as nutritious, are often overlooked.
These plant pigments are abundant in black foods. This family of pigments is responsible for the deep colors of blackberries, red cherries and blueberries.
Most foods containing anthocyanins are dark blue or almost black. The darker the food is, the greater the amount of anthocyanins it contains. These molecules prevent UV damage and oxidation of the plant. The highest recorded concentration of anthocyanins is in the casing of black soybeans.
Anthocyanins prevent the onset of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer, and protect the body against free radicals.
The List: 22 Black Foods
1. Black Bean
A variety of beans whose shell is shiny black, this is one of the most popular bean colors in the world. This type of bean is usually sold in bulk in the markets. There are different types of black beans and they are used in a diverse range of cooking preparations. For example, in the northern parts of Mexico, people make black bean tamales, while in countries like Japan, they are used as a filling for sweets and candy.
The blackberry, also known as the black mulberry or Morus nigra, is a fruit tree belonging to the Moraceae family. Known mainly for its fruit, it also offers many therapeutic virtues as it contains flavonoids and anthocyanosides. These have been shown to have a powerful effect on eye healing, particularly cataracts and macular degeneration.
Other parts of the plant also have a strong history in traditional medicine. It has hypoglycemic properties, and the leaves of this plant may be used in the treatment of diabetes. They are also rich in calcium carbonate.
3. Black Bread
Black bread is trending across the globe, from black burger buns to black pizza! The ingredient responsible for the color of the bread is squid or cuttlefish ink. It is mixed with water and salt, subjected to a thermal process, and then frozen, before being used as a cooking ingredient.
Contrary to popular belief, the ink is not toxic: even in venomous species of octopus, the venom and the ink are separate. However, some people with a seafood allergy might react to squid ink.
4. Black Caviar
Caviar is the roe, or eggs, of certain species of fish, and some are cheaper than others. Black caviar, specifically, comes from the sturgeon, an animal in danger of extinction and that takes a long time to produce its roe. Together, these two factors make black caviar a rare and expensive delicacy.
5. Black Corn
Corn is one of Mexico’s culinary treasures. This specific variety is grown mainly in the highlands of Chiapas and is used to make tortillas, pinole, drinks, and tamales. The flavor is a little more alkaline and has several benefits: it contains a large number of antioxidants such as anthocyanins, which help prevent cardiovascular disease and improve the circulatory system.
6. Black Garlic
This ingredient is prevalent in Asian cuisine. It is obtained by fermenting regular garlic bulbs at high temperatures and has a characteristic sweet flavor with balsamic notes. Allicin is one of its main components, which strengthens the immune system and increases the body’s defenses, especially during allergic processes.
7. Black Lentils
Also called Beluga or caviar lentils because of their small size and characteristic color, these seeds attract attention when found in a shop window.
This legume has more protein, between 20% and 30% more, than any other similar one that we can find. While its color is black on the outside, its flesh, the albumen, is yellowish on the inside. In addition to the large amount of protein, they also contain a high amount of complex carbohydrates, around 50%, and approximately 10% fiber.
Together, these properties make black lentils a healthy source of protein with a low glycemic index. This makes them an ideal choice for a healthy diet, as well as being vegetarian- and vegan-friendly.
8. Black Olives
Black olives are full of protein and fiber. Experts from the American National Academy of Medicine recommend eating a daily amount of up to seven olives (about 37 kcal) to get all the protein and fiber needed in a day.
Black olives protect eye health and the immune system thanks to its vitamin A content. They also contain vitamin E, making black olives a powerful natural antioxidant that you can add to your diet. This can help prevent cellular aging and maintain healthy skin. The phosphorus in olives promotes brain health, increasing your mental capacity and ability to concentrate.
9. Black Potatoes
The black canary potato is one of the best potatoes in Spain. It belongs to the subspecies Solanum chaucha or black egg yolk potato, which arrived in Tenerife from Peru more than 400 years ago.
On the outside, it has a brown-black tone and rounded shape, somewhat irregular, with some purplish holes. When cut, it shows a yellow pulp. Its texture is fleshy and creamy at the same time. It has a very peculiar and pronounced flavor, slightly sweet, and reminiscent of chestnut.
10. Black Rice
Black rice is a variety of rice found in different areas of Asia. Its color is due to its high content of anthocyanins, a powerful natural colorant. This rice is usually marketed as brown without removing the husk. The husk is very dark, but the grain itself has a rather dark brown color.
In terms of taste and composition, it is reminiscent of brown basmati. It contains practically the same amount of fiber and has that characteristic nutty flavor that brown rice imparts. In addition to its flavor, we love this rice for its appearance. It is aesthetically unique and will surprise your guests.
11. Black Sesame Seeds
These seeds are a good source of energy due to their high content of healthy fats such as omega-6. They can also reduce the risk of heart disease and other conditions such as cancer. Black sesame contains phosphorus, fiber, iron, magnesium, and calcium.
12. Black Soybean
Black soybeans are rich in protein, minerals, and fiber. The lipids present in it help lower bad cholesterol levels and prevent type 2 diabetes. The use of black soybeans is widespread in macrobiotic diets, as it helps to avoid many intestinal and urinary problems.
Black soybeans are also the key ingredient in salty soy sauce and sweet soy sauce, used in a wide variety of Asian cuisine!
13. Black Spaghetti
Black spaghetti is prepared with cuttlefish ink. The color of this dish is critical as it creates an impact when you first see it. The contrast of the black spaghetti with the ingredients you put on it makes it an exotic dish for pasta fans.
Depending on how picky you want to be, you can prepare this recipe in different ways. If you make the pasta yourself, it will taste very fresh. However, if you prefer a more practical option, you can buy ready-made black spaghetti or even regular spaghetti and change the color with squid ink.
14. Black Tea
Tea contains theaflavins, which are antioxidant that help muscles recover after intense exercise, according to a study by Rutgers University in New Jersey. As well as relieving post-exercise pain, a cup of black tea could also reduce the risk of a heart attack.
15. Black Sapote
Sapote, or zapote, is a rounded fruit with bright green and smooth skin, measuring between 5 and 7 centimeters. The pulp of this fruit is dark brown or black when ripe, and it has a soft texture and sweet flavor. It can only be eaten when it is very ripe. It is mainly used to prepare zapotada, a candy prepared with black sapote pulp, orange juice, and sugar. In the Western Mexico state of Michoacán, they usually make ice cream with it.
16. Chaga Mushrooms
This unusual black fungus can be found on the bark of birch trees, mainly in the colder regions of North America, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Countries such as China, Russia or Korea have been using this mushroom for thousands of years, and now it is spreading to the rest of the world due to its enormous benefits.
This mushroom has the ability to reduce cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. It also has antioxidant properties and strengthens the immune system. It is recommended to treat inflammation of the pancreas and to prevent colorectal, breast and even uterine cancer.
Activated charcoal is a substance obtained by heating materials such as wood, coconut shells or sawdust at very high temperatures to take advantage of its properties. It should not be confused with the charcoal generated by burning food or wood chips!
While not strictly a food, this charcoal is taken by mouth to help absorb toxins in the stomach and digestive tract. It is particularly useful in cases of food poisoning, as it binds the toxins and keeps them in the digestive tract for excretion, rather than being absorbed.
This helps reduce the workload of the liver and kidneys, which otherwise would have to filter out the toxins. Research also shows that activated charcoal can reduce gastrointestinal damage and inflammation of the colon, so it is able to reduce intestinal gas, diarrhea, and the abdominal pains that this generates.
18. Chia Seeds
Chia is a plant that comes from countries such as Nicaragua, Guatemala, Mexico, El Salvador and Costa Rica. The black seeds of this plant are rich in carbohydrates, fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
The Mayans and Aztecs already used this seed for its enormous benefits, among which we can highlight that they are an important source of Omega 3, have a high fiber content so they are perfect for the management of constipation and reduce cholesterol levels. They also have high levels of alpha-linoleic acids that help with weight loss. Studies from 2017 have shown that they even serve to control the risk of type 2 diabetes.
19. Chilhuacle Chili
The black chilhuacle chili, or “ancient chili” is challenging to find because its production is exclusive to Cañada Chica in Oaxaca, Mexico. Due to its scarcity, it is usually sold at high prices. The black chilhuacle is 8 centimeters long. It has a matte black color and is used to prepare Oaxacan black mole or chichilo. It can be substituted with guajillo chile, although it will never have the same flavor.
Dark chocolate, also called bitter or pure chocolate, is much healthier for your body than its full milk or sweetened counterpart! It is obtained by mixing two products from cocoa beans: the paste and the butter, a solid and fatty material to which no milk or sugar is added.
This superfood is good for the brain, heart, and mood. It is also a good choice for people who want to lose weight, as it can satisfy sweet cravings without the heavy sugar content. The bitterness makes you less likely to overeat compared to regular versions.
To get the full benefit, make sure your dark chocolate has at least 70% cocoa, and be careful not to exceed the daily amount recommended by nutritionists.
Consuming a cup of black coffee a day stimulates attention, learning, memory and concentration. In addition, it reactivates blood circulation and the chlorogenic acid content in coffee reduces glucose absorption.
This beverage has many antioxidant properties. A 2005 study showed that drinking coffee daily improves memory and increases reflexes. It also reduces the risk of Type 2 diabetes and caffeine accelerates the metabolism helping to lose weight.
Among other great properties of coffee are the reduction of the risk of depression and Parkinson’s disease.
The fruit of a climbing orchid native to Mexico, vanilla is a green pod cut after a month and a half on the plant, then passed through boiling water and dried. At the end of this process, the pod and its seeds acquire a black or dark brown color.
The pod and its seeds are widely used in confectionery to flavor creams, cakes, ice creams, and syrups. It is also a key ingredient in cola soft drinks.