Calling Birds and Black Food

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Black Beans are one of the many healthy black foods.

Did you know that the “calling birds” in the 12 Days of Christmas are really “colly birds”? Colly birds are black birds, “black as coal.” Did you also know that most black foods are really good for you? We often promote color in foods, and as dietitians we suggest a rainbow of colors for your fruits and vegetables: red, orange, yellow, green, purple and even white. But what about black foods?

Black Beans are a protein considered part of the meat and bean group AND the vegetable group. A half cup is a serving and has about 110 calories, 7 grams of fiber, 8 grams of protein and almost no fat. Canned beans are my favorite, but you can use dried too. If you use canned, drain and rinse them to cut the sodium.  Black beans are also loaded with antioxidants, the highest of all the beans. Rocco Dispirito has a great brownie recipe that uses black beans. They are good!

Black Tea is as good as green tea, just different. They are the same plant, but black tea is dried a bit longer than green tea. Black tea is also high in antioxidants and contain no calories! Black tea has flavonoids, which are so good for your heart. Have it hot or cold, and if you can, without added sugar.

Black Olives have benefits too. Black olives are the ripe fruit of the olive tree. Often considered high in calories, olives average 7 calories each. Most of their calories come from monounsaturated fat (the good stuff). They also contain vitamin E. Oh, yes they are also a good source of flavonoids. More information: California Ripe Olives.

Black Grapes are not seen as often as green and red grapes, but they have benefits too. One guess what the component is that make them healthy. Yep, flavonoids. They also contain resveratrol, another phytonutrient that helps your heart. One serving of 10 grapes = 35 calories.

Blackberries are another fruit high in antioxidants. In fact, blackberries are one of the top ranked fruits in antioxidants. A half cup = about 30 calories and nearly 4 grams of fiber.

Black Walnuts are not the same as English walnuts, which is what most of us use. Black walnuts cannot be mistaken for English walnuts, because they are black and have a distinct flavor. Another plant source of protein, a ¼ cup of black walnuts are about 200 calories, 8 grams of protein, 2 grams of fiber, and about 1 gram of saturated fat (18 grams total fat, but the other 17 grams are unsaturated). Walnuts are one of the few plant sources of omega-3 fats, the kind found in salmon and other cold water, fatty fish.

Black Rice! Yep, if you have not yet heard of black rice, get on board. It is making its appearance in the US as one of the newest food trends. High in fiber and iron, oh and antioxidants. Look for this in the grocery store in 2011, if it isn’t there now. Read more here about black rice. 

So, remember the colors in your food, but make sure you include black foods too! There are plenty more than those listed here! What is your favorite black food?

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