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Perfect color, flavor and texture are usually the highest compliments for a chef. According to traditional Chinese medicine, the color of food also acts as a guide to the ways of health reinforcement.

Ancient Chinese divided all things on the Earth into the five elements - fire, wood, earth, metal and water - to describe their characteristics. The fundamental TCM book "Huang Di Nei Jing," or "The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor," states five colors, five organs, five seasons, five moods and five flavors correspond with the five elements:

Five colors - green, red, yellow, white and black;

Five organs - liver, heart, spleen, lungs and kidneys;

Five seasons - spring, summer, late summer, autumn and winter;

Five moods - anger, happiness, thinking, sad and fear;

Five flavors - sour, bitter, sweet, spicy and salty.

"The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor" says that the corresponding relationship among all the "fives" provides us hints about maintaining health in different seasons. Black foods are the best for winter, green foods for spring, red foods for summer, yellow foods for late summer and white foods for autumn.

Black foods including sesame, champignon, black beans and longan correspond with water, which is linked to winter (season), fear (mood), saltiness (flavor), kidneys (organ) and bladder.

Winter is the best season to store energy, and kidneys play a role in this. Poor kidneys will waste the many reinforcing foods people eat in winter. Therefore, eating more black foods is highly recommended in winter under the five elements theory of TCM.

Modern research found most black foods rich in inorganic salt and melanin. The inorganic salt can help promote fluid metabolism and dispel toxins; while melanin can help restrict nitrosamine and thus preventing cancer.

Black foods:

Fowl, soft-shell turtle, snakehead, black beans, sesame, black fungus, mushrooms, kelp, purple seaweed and ebony.

Black beans:

"Neutral" black beans can help reinforce kidneys, boost the urinary tract, promote circulation, dispel toxins and nourish skin.

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