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Why You Should Eat More Black Foods, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

Updated: Nov 21, 2023

Why You Should Eat More Black Foods, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, different colors of foods have different effects on the body. Each color is associated with a different internal organ, and incorporating each color into your diet is essential to keeping the body healthy and happy.

Black-colored foods are used in traditional Chinese medicine to strengthen and protect the kidneys, as well as to promote longevity. As the organ that stores jing (essence), the kidneys are very important to maintaining our health and vitality. Jing is also responsible for birth, growth, and reproduction, so it is crucial that our kidneys function optimally and remain healthy. Foods with black colors can strengthen and protect the organs.

Examples of black foods include blueberries, black beans, black sesame seeds, mulberries, kelp, black garlic and black rice. Men can especially benefit from incorporating black foods into their diet.

Health Benefits of Black Foods, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, the kidneys are associated with the color black, with black-colored food believed to nourish and strengthen them, as well as to promote bone strength, libido, and longevity.

Black foods are also known to be loaded with healthy compounds. Some studies show that pigments abundant in black, blue, and purple foods, known as anthocyanins, may help lower your risk of heart disease and certain types of cancer, as well as promote weight loss and benefit your skin. Below are some examples of how eating black-colored foods can benefit your diet:

They Can Be High in Antioxidants

Some black-colored foods are extremely high in antioxidants, which may protect your cells against free radicals, and lower risks of heart disease, cancer and other diseases. Black foods that are especially high in antioxidants include black sesame seeds, blueberries, cacao, blackberries, mulberries and plums.

Health Benefits of Black Foods, According to Traditional Chinese Medicine

They May Boost Your Immune System

Blackberries, shiitake mushrooms, black garlic, elderberry extracts, and squid ink have all been shown to be great for your body’s immunity, largely due to high amounts of Vitamin A and promoting the growth of white blood cells, which results in a higher immune response.

They May Benefit the Digestive System

Juniper berries are commonly used to treat digestive issues due to their powerful anti-inflammatory effects. Activated charcoal is also used to treat bloating, constipation, and indigestion, as well as prevent the development of kidney stones.

They Are Highly Anti-inflammatory

Coffee, juniper berries, chia seeds, black garlic, and black rice all have anti-inflammatory properties, which may lower the risk of heart disease, obesity, arthritis, Alzheimer's, psoriasis, and other ailments.

Some Black Foods May Lower the Risk of Certain Cancers

Squid ink, black rice, and black beans have all been shown to potentially lower the risk of certain cancers forming in the body.

They Are Beneficial to Kidney Health

As supported by traditional Chinese medicine, black-colored foods can be extremely good for overall kidney health. Some of the most popular examples include eggplants, plums, figs, black sesame seeds, black and kidney beans, wood ear mushrooms, dates, and seaweed.

A bowl of beans

A Summary of Food Colors in Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, each color represents a different function when it comes to foods.

Black foods are connected to the kidneys, as well as maintaining "essence" or jing in the body. The kidneys are represented by the water element, as water cleanses, heals, and transforms in the same way that the kidneys do.

White foods benefit the lungs, which are represented by the metal element. The lungs maintain an unobstructed circulation of Qi throughout the body. Furthermore, the lungs are the site of Qi exchange and regulation. Examples of white foods include white beans, garlic, cauliflower, and potatoes.

Yellow foods serve the digestive tract and are represented by the earth element. Yellow foods include soy, egg yolk, yellow peppers, and lemons.

Red and orange foods are best for the heart, and they are represented by the fire element. Red foods like Crataegus and Goji berries have been shown to benefit the heart and prevent heart disease, and orange foods like carrots and sweet potatoes contain carotenoids, which are essential to good cardiovascular health.

Green foods benefit the liver and are represented by the wood element. Most green foods have cooling properties and are high in magnesium, potassium, and vitamins A, B and C. Examples include spinach, broccoli, green beans and avocado.

A Summary of Food Colors in Traditional Chinese Medicine

Final Thoughts

Black-colored foods can be excellent for reducing the risks of heart disease, certain cancers, digestive issues, and kidney disease. Incorporating black foods into your meal plan is an excellent way to boost your health and live a long, full life.

However, it is important to remember that eating a healthy diet that contains every one of the color groups is essential to maintaining your wellness.

Book a 30-minute traditional Chinese medicine consultation with Yair Danon, our natural health specialist, for advice on how you can start incorporating more black foods into a healthy and nutritious diet.


This blog is intended to provide general information regarding health and related topics. The information and other materials offered in this blog, website, or any other linked materials are not meant to be used in place of professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should not be regarded as such. Please consult with a medical doctor or natural health specialist before starting a new medication, treatment, or natural supplement.


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