Saturday, June 15, 2013

Food Facts: Black is good!

When mini-man was 4 years old, we went to a BBQ. When my friend put a bowl of salad on the table, mini-man reached into the bowl, grabbed some nice dark lettuce leaves, and shoved them into his tiny mouth. My friend stood there with her mouth draped open. I was embarrassed, and said,
"Mini-man, you hafta wait. Get a plate, 
put some salad on your plate, 
and then eat it ...with a fork."
My friend looked at me, and said, "Did you see that?" Okay, was she gonna make a big deal about my son's awful table manners? He's four, he's learning. I stood there and smiled apologetically. She went on, "Did you see that?" Now I was really starting to feel defensive, but I just continued to smile and nodded, as if to say, "Uh-huh." Then my friend said, "I can't believe your son grabbed a bunch of dark green leaves and ate them!" (I thought, REALLY? WTF?) Then, she went on,
"That's so great. How did you get him to like salad?"
"Oooooh, yeah ..." realizing she was not judging me for my son's dreadful table manners. I laughed, and shrugged (coolly, like ice on a hot summer day, not at all like the loser Mom I thought I was seconds before), and went on, "Maybe it's 'cause I make a salad every night?"
I really don't have an answer.
If I did, I'd know how to get him to eat the tomatoes in the salad, too!
Food trends always fascinate me. We go from from grains to "SUPER" grains, fruits to "SUPER" fruits, and now, from Greens to Black.
What?
Yup, and here's what's on the horizon: black rice, black lentils, blackberries, black beans black soybeans, black tea, and black birds (just kidding)!
And here's why...
Black rice contains lots of vitamin E and anthocyanins.
Black Rice Salad

Vitamin E can bolster the immune system, 
act as an anti-inflammatory (an endurance athlete's Got To Know) and an antioxidant to help protect your cells from free radicals (those awful boogers involved in the development of cancer, and cognitive decline), helps to prevent or delay coronary artery disease, eye problems like cataracts, inhibits LDL cholesterol (the bad kind), and prevents formation of blood clots. 
As for the anthocyanins,
their proposed health benefits include antioxidant potential too, plus the capacity to enhance memory and visual acuity, reduce cognitive decline, strengthen capillaries, reduce clot formation, and enhance nitric oxide release (another GTK for runners).

Black lentils are loaded with iron and soluble fiber.
Black Beluga Lentil Salad
I'd add cooked beets for extra Nitric Oxide power!
One cup of these lovely little black gems has 8 milligrams of iron, 
almost as much 1/2  the RDA value for women. As a runner, it's important we get enough iron to help our blood carry oxygen - and it's good to know plant sources, instead of just relying on red meat.
Soluble fiber 
has been in the news a lot lately because it can help lower cholesterol, and slows the absorption of carbohydrates - helping to control blood sugar.

Blackberries have polyphenols, Vitamin C and lots of fiber.
Blackberry & Spinach Smoothie
Polyphenols are the most abundant antioxidants in the diet.
Flavanoids are the most abundant type of polyphenols. Anthocyanin (re: black rice) is a type of flavanoid. So, you would expect that polyphenols have similar benefits like the anthocyanins, and they do. Polyphenols reduce inflammation, help prevent cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline and cancer.
One cup of blackberries provides about 1/2 RDA of Vitamin C 
(which also helps protect our immune system and lower the risk of cancer) and 8 grams of fiber, about 1/4 of the RDA. As runners, we all know what too much insoluble fiber can do, because of its known laxative effect. Some say that because insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of food through the gut, it helps rid the body of toxins. (That's where the whole colon cleanse idea originates).

Black beans contain bioflavanoids.
Black beans with rice
Like anthocyanins, bioflavanoids are a type of polyphenol, and like the other polyphenols, bioflavanoids offer antioxidant and anti inflammatory properties, help protect against atherosclerosis and cancer.

Black Soybeans provide alpha-linolenic acid, a type of Omega-3.
Mediterranean Quinoa Salad with Black Soybeans
I've only seen black soybeans in a can, but after a little looking, I found Handy Pantry Organic Black Soybeans on Amazon. Don't you love Amazon? I love how everything has a review, too. Omega-3 has been in the news so much lately for its ability to reduce inflammation and lower the risk of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3 has also been shown to help reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression.

Black Tea supplies theaflavins.
PG Tips, move over!
As a Rutgers, alum,
I am proud to say that a recent study from Rutgers University showed that black tea contains theaflavins, which may help improve recovery from muscle soreness after intense exercise. Cool! I love my tea after dinner! Who'd of thought I was helping my muscles recover by sipping on some tea? Another GTK! Theaflavins, are also polyphenols, so they too have anti-inflammatory, heart protective and cancer preventative potential. There's more, theaflavins are really unique. They have been found to help reduce cholesterol, and inhibit proteins responsible for Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease.

I've heard of "eating the rainbow" to make sure there's balance in your diet, and to make sure you get a little of this nutrient, and a little of that, so you don't short yourself on any one nutrient - but never before did I ever think of adding black to my wheelehouse! Especially black soybeans!
Have you ever had black soybeans?
Do you like them?
Do you have any other recipes to share?
Always looking to add them to my Dropbox ;D
Train Smart Today!
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