The Powerful Superfoods You Might Be Missing

When it comes to a balanced diet, you’ve most likely been taught to eat foods of all different colors. And when you’re eating fruits and veggies like purple potatoes, red pomegranates, and orange papayas, that’s generally true — the richer the color, the bigger the dose of cancer and disease-fighting phytochemicals.

But what about foods on the extreme side of the color spectrum: black foods? Although black might not seem like the healthiest color on the planet, dark-hued foods have been hailed as the newest superfoods because of their high levels of various antioxidants, compounds that protect against a number of diseases, including heart disease and cancer. You should still eat bright fruits and vegetables, but adding in black foods that pack a nutritional punch — like blackberries, black beans, and black soybeans — can give you an unexpected health boost, too.

Black BeansBlack Bean

Black beans should be part of every diet. They’re healthy foods that help prevent cancer because they’re filled with phytochemicals that protect your cells from damage — and black beans are thought to be even more packed with antioxidants than other varieties. Beans are also full of fiber, which has been found to lower the risk for colorectal cancer. A recent study at the Harvard School for Public Health even found that eating more beans and less rice can lower diabetes risk by as much as 35 percent.

Luckily, black beans are easy to add to your diet. Kathy Allen, RD, director of the department of nutrition at Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., recommends a great option for an easy dinner: Buy seasoned black beans in a can and mix them with long-grain brown rice. “It’s one of the healthiest, cheapest, and fastest meals,” she says. You can also add black beans to salads, chili, soups, tacos, or burritos.

BlackberriesGroup of blackberries isolated on white background.

Sprinkle blackberries on your cereal, add them to Greek yogurt, or fold them into whole-wheat waffle batter, and you’ll get a helping of polyphenols, an antioxidant that helps lower inflammation. Because they’re low in calories, blackberries are the perfect diet addition, and they might even boost your brain health. When researchers from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University fed older rats a blackberry-supplemented diet for eight weeks, the rats had better balance, coordination, and short-term memory than rats that were not fed blackberries.

Black Soybeans

Edamame (green soybeans) may be all the rage, but there are a variety of soybeans that may please your palate, including black soybeans, Allen says. Soybeans offer isoflavones, saponins, phytosterols, and other active ingredients that help fight cancer. Studies have also found that having this healthy food in your diet is good for your heart. In one South Korean study, researchers found that black soybean extract helped improve blood circulation and lowered the risk for cardiovascular problems.

Black Mushrooms

Most varieties of mushrooms are beneficial and contain cancer-fighting properties. Flavorful shiitake mushrooms, which are sometimes called black mushrooms, will help diversify your diet. In one study of 362 women, researchers concluded that eating mushrooms may lower risk of breast cancer for women after menopause. “Try a variety [of mushrooms] because they all have different flavors and textures,” Allen says. Add them to a salad, put them in a stir-fry, grill, or roast them. Because they have a mild flavor, they’re also great in combination with other foods, such as in chili or soup.

Black LentilsBlack Lentils

Nutritionally, there’s not much of a difference between black lentils, green lentils, or brown lentils, Allen notes, but they may offer some variety to your diet. Whatever the color, lentils offer plenty of dietary fiber, and studies have found that diets rich in fiber can help lower cholesterol. You can replace ground meat in meatloaf and chili with lentils, eat them over rice with a tomato sauce, or add them cold to salads, Allen suggests.

Black Tea

A study from the Boston University School of Medicine found that people who have heart disease and drink black tea have healthier blood vesselsthan people with heart disease who do not drink tea. Additionally, studies have found that drinking black tea may help lower the risk of a heart attack or stroke. Researchers think that tea’s flavonoids offer protection, and help to prevent the formation of plaques or blockages in artery walls. If you’re looking for ways to drink more tea, swap your morning coffee for black tea, or drink green, white, or black tea in place of sugary sodas.

Black Rice

The next time you sit down to a stir-fry, add black rice, a little-known healthy food, instead of brown or white. Why? Adding black rice to your diet may help with allergies and inflammation. In a laboratory study on mice, researchers found that injecting black rice bran into the rats’ skin lowered levels of inflammation. Researchers also found that mice that ate black rice bran had less swelling from skin allergies. Neither effect was found with brown rice bran.

Everyday Health Network
By Marie Suszynski

Medically reviewed by Niya Jones MD, MPH
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The Components of Green Tea

A tea leaf consists of 77 percent water and 23 percent solid matter. Of the latter, about one-third is made up of water-soluble components – including amino acids, polyphenol (includes catechins), polysaccharides, and vitamin C – and two-thirds consists of insoluble components – including crude fibers, cellulose, vitamin E, and carotene.

Each components has its own good qualities, and some, particularly the catechins that generate the astringency of tea, have many other benefits. Some nutrients that are not extracted when tea is used s a cooking ingredient.

Water Soluble Components :

  • Catechins
  • Caffeine
  • Polysaccharides
  • Flavonoids
  • Amino acids (theanine)
  • Saponin
  • y-Amino butyric acid
  • Vitamin C, vitamin B complex
  • Water – soluble dietary fibers
  • Fluoride
  • Others

 

Catechins: Catechins are the agents responsible of the astringency in tea, more commonly called “Tannin”.https://i0.wp.com/www.food-info.net/images/theaflavin.jpg

Catechins are related to flavonoids, have antibacterial and anti-oxidative functions, and are effective in reducing oxidation, inhibiting the spread of cancer and tumors, and lowering cholesterol levels in the blood. They also play a part in stabilizing blood pressure and blood sugar, resist, viruses, and have a deodorization function.

Caffeine: The caffeine content of tea leaves is three time higher in the top shoot than in the lower stalk. It is estimated that 1 pound (450 grams) of the leaves – sufficient to make 200 cups of tea – contain approximately 1/2 ounce (16 grams) of caffeine. However, the caffeine in green tea is supposedly milder than that in coffee. Caffeine counteracts fatigue and drowsiness, stimulates heart function, and also acts as a diuretic.

Polysaccharides: Effective in lowering blood sugar.

Fluoride: Protects the enamel of teeth and prevents cavities.

Vitamin B complex: Effective in regulating the metabolism of saccharine.

Vitamin E: Its effects include an anti-oxidation action and slowing of the aging process.

Vitamin C: Its effects include lessening stress and building up resistance to mild infections such as colds.

y-Amino butyric acid (Gava): Protects against hypertension.

Flavonoids: Their effect include strengthening the walls of blood vessels and preventing halitosis.

Theanine: One of several amino acids, which are responsible for the distinctive aroma and flavor of tea.

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Tea in China’s Hinterland

By William de Pace (Sociologist and Specialist in Perfumes and Wellness) from ‘Perfumes and Wellness

 

https://i1.wp.com/www.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/images/exbig_images/7d8a8c833ab1b226a009271041646ce8.jpg

The spiritual sense of teas is stressed by all ethnic groups of China, a rare occurrence in world dietary history.

The ethnic groups of southwest China live in compact communities in Yunnan, Guizhou, and Sichuan provinces. As original tea-growing areas, these places are rich in tea culture. In particular, when the traditional tea culture fell into decay in modern times in the central plains (comprising the middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River), many tea ceremonies an customs survived on the southwest because the simple folkway and the fact that local culture was deeply entrenched and less severely affected by outside forces or other historical events.

According to historical information, ethnic groups of southwest China knew much about tea, and both used and planted tea earlier than those ethnic groups of the Central Plains.

This can be proved by the story about Yao Bai, who planted tea and distributed land among the Jinuos (see picture) of Yunnan Province. Long ago, there lived an ancestress of the Jinuos, whose name was Yao Bai. She not only created heaven and earth, but also decided to distribute land to the ethnic groups. The Jinuos, however, failed to attend the meeting at which the land was distributed, for they anticipated the disputes among the various ethnic groups.

Angry as she was, Yao Bai was afraid that they would be badly off later without land. So she scattered a handful of seeds down from a mountain top. From that time, tea trees grew in Longpa Village, where the Jinuos started to plant and use tea. The high mountain where they lived became one of the six tea mountains of Yunnan provinces. The story about Yao Bai’s planting tea brought a history of tea planting to the first stage of human civilization.

Most tea historians hold that people successively used tea as herbs, food, and drink. The Jinuos have regarded tea as a “cold dish in sauce” to the present day. When you come to their villages, they will collect fresh tea leaves at once, crumple and knead them into soft and thin pieces, put them in a large bowl, and add some yellow fruit juice, sour bamboo shoots, sour ants, garlic, chili, and salt. Then they will ask you to taste their special “cold dish in sauce”.


Some ethnic groups, such as the Yi, Bai, Wa and Lahu, have the habit of drinking “roast tea”. This type of tea is roasted in pots or bamboo tubes, or on steel plates. For example, the Lahus roast tea by shaking an earthenware pot on a burning stove. When the tea turns brown, they pour boiling water into the pot. The tea roasted in this way gives off a rich fragrant smell. The Wa ethnic group roasts tea on a thin steel plate, and then puts the roasted tea into a pot and pours in boiling water.

The Bais (see picture here) have a way of roasting tea similar to that of the Lahus except that they add condiments such a sugar and puffed rice to the tea. They also endow the tea with cultural meaning such as sweetness first, bitterness second, and recollections last.

The bamboo tube tea, which is popular among some ethnic group in Yunnan province, is also noteworthy. Perhaps this tea is a transition from loose tea to lump tea by pressing against the cooking utensil while roasting.

The bamboo tube tea (here) of the Dais (see picture down) people is an example. When you climb into a bamboo building of the Dais, a girl in a tight skirt with a silver belt greets you at once, and the oldest man treats you to the bamboo tube, and the elderly man places it onto a tripod on the stove to soften, evaporate, and roast the tea indirectly instead of scorching it. In about six to seven minutes, the tea-maker will press the tea leaves in the bamboo tube with a stick, stuff in raw tea leaves, and continues to roast until the bamboo tube is filled. After the tea leaves get dry, the tube is cut open and the cylinder-shaped bamboo tube tea leaves are ready.

By breaking off some dry tea leaves, putting them into a bowl, and pouring some boiling water, the host can treat you to a bowl of tea with the fragrances of both bamboo and roasted tea leaves. From the process of producing roasted tea, we can see the custom of roasting tea left over by the Tang Dynasty, and the original form of “lump tea processed by pressing” as well.

The round tea cake (see picture down), popular in the Yangtze River in the Tang Dynasty, perhaps evolved from the roast tea of boundary ethnic groups, who processed tea with natural and primitive tools of bamboo tubes, while people in the central plains processed tea by pressing with molds. Tea arose in the Yunnan-Guzhou plateau, entered SIchuan Province along the Yangtze River, and then reached Hunan and Hubei provinces through the Three Gorges. People in tea’s original growing area must have had a special method of processing.

The sour-ant cold tea in sauce made by the boundary people was followed by tea used by people in the central plains as vegetables; tea roasted by the boundary people in pots or bamboo tubes or on steel plates as followed by tea roasted by Lu Yu and tea roasted after evaporation; the cylinder-shaped tea roasted and pressed in bamboo tubes was followed by the perforated tea of the Tang Dynasty, the cake-shaped tea of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, and the present-day brick-shaped tea and bowl-shaped tea.

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