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The Darker The Food, The Better It Is!

So while we humans practice racism and prefer fair skins to dark ones, mother nature plays it’s own game and grants more healing powers to darker foods

Photo Credit : Shutterstock

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You must have often heard that one should eat a rainbow which implies that we should include foods of all different colors to ensure variety of nutrients for our body. Fruits and veggies get their color from various antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent damage from free-radicals, slow down ageing & protect the immune system. And the darker and deeper the hue, the higher the concentration of antioxidants & polyphenols. 

For instance, lycopene is an antioxidant present in red colored fruits & veggies. Carotene is present in deep yellow produce. The purple pigment in foods like purple cabbage, mulberries, black carrots, black grapes, blueberries, purple potatoes & yam, even black rice is due to the presence of anthocyanins, another kind of antioxidant. Anthocyanins protect purple vegetables from sunlight damage, cold temperatures, and other stressors. And they attract pollinators, like bees and butterflies. 

These antioxidants can help fight lifestyle diseases like diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular and neurological issues. Consuming purple/ dark colored foods can help cure stomach ulcers due to their anti-inflammatory effect. They have been used in the form of dried leaves, berries and roots to formulate herbal medicines since centuries. Such medicines have been implemental in treating hypertension, liver disorders, kidney stones, UTIs and common cold.

Fruits like black currants and bilberries can help reduce LDL(bad cholesterol) and boost HDL(good cholesterol). Black rice has the highest content of anthocyanins than any other known food. It was also known as “forbidden rice” in China as this rice was reserved to be eaten only by Chinese royalty to ensure their longevity and good health owing to it’s high nutrient profile. In India too, its eaten in a few eastern states like Odisha, Jharkhand, Assam & Manipur. Additionally, black rice also contains important antioxidant Vitamin E, which promotes eye, skin and immune health in addition to other important functions. Being a wholegrain, the fibre binds to waste and toxins within the digestive tract, helping to pull them out and to contribute to regular bowel function, thereby preventing constipation. 

Fruits with a vivid violet hue also contain resveratrol (yes, the same compound that makes red wine a “healthier” drink over other forms of alcohol !). Resveratrol helps lower blood pressure  (now you know why you feel relaxed while sipping your wine J ), relax arterial walls, reduces the pressure in arteries and aids better circulation. It’s considered a potent anti-cancer compound as it induces cancer cell death in cases of prostate, breast, skin, liver, lung and blood cancer.

Beets owe their color to another pigment, Betalain, which is color pigment in plants. The deep red color of beets, amaranth, bougainvillea  and many cacti results from the presence of betalain pigments.The particular shades of red to purple are distinctive and unlike that of anthocyanin pigments found in most plants.

Athletes in particular should include dark-colored foods to fight free radicals that can causemuscle soreness, inflammation of joints, fatigue and premature cellular ageing. Swapping lighter-colored foods with a darker variant of the same can dramatically upgrade the antioxidant content and boost the immune system.

Dark leafy greens have more chlorophyll and less water content as compared to lighter greens. That’s the reason darker greens like spinach, mustard and kale have more intense flavors too. Chlorophyll is rich in vitamins & minerals and help improve eye health, reduce cholesterol and prevent certain cancers.

Black beans with darker skins as compared to other legumes have high levels of iron and soluble fibre, which may help lower cholesterol and improve immune function.

Even your favorite dessert, the tempting chocolate is better in it’s dark avatar. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa solids, less or no milk solids and lesser sugar. That explains it’s slight bitter taste. Cocoa is a fabulous source of flavanoids that help improve insulin sensitivity , lipid profile and regulate blood pressure. 

A good dark chocolate would be one with at least 65 per cent cocoa. Dark chocolate is also a good source of magnesium which  is involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body, particularly , in the metabolic process that converts food to energy. Magnesium is also essential for muscles and nerves to function correctly -- including regulating heart rate -- and it helps immune and skeletal systems stay strong.

So, while we humans practice racism and prefer fair skins to dark ones, mother nature plays it’s own game and grants more healing powers to darker foods. After all, a mother cannot be racist.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.


Mansi Chaudhary

Mansi Chaudhary is a practicing Nutritionist, Certified Diabetes Educator, Nutrigenomics Expert & a Holistic Cancer Coach. Her integrative approach towards health & Nutrition helps patients learn about Mindful Eating and manage lifestyle diseases, autoimmune conditions as well as manage weight effectively

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