Charcoal has been a part of the health scene for a very long time due to its health benefits. Commonly used as a detox agent, as long as the charcoal is ‘activated’. Activated charcoal, also known as coconut ash or activated carbon, is basically wood or coconut shell burnt at high temperatures (which removes all oxygen and other compounds), later processed with steam at the same high temperature. What is left is a very porous, very absorbent compound that binds very well with heavy metals, chemicals and toxins.
When it first came into the food industry, it took social media by storm due to its color. Now it’s popularly used as an aesthetic, its striking appearance making for a very good post. Instagram was flooded with pictures of black food, and many eateries adopted the trend and profited heavily due to the customer traffic it bought.
This was the perfect goth response to the rainbow food fad, many content creators giving their two cents about the trend in blogs and vlogs. Some articles reading:
I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For… Black Ice Cream?
Black bagels for breakfast!
As basic the lack of the inky colour in food is, many have argued about the health benefits the food trend brings. Charcoal is good, but just how good is yet to be seen. Lets see the facts as we know them:
Like mentioned above, the compound is very absorbent and porous, and has the ability to bind itself to other compounds very well. This is true, but it lacks context. It can help boost energy, due to its detoxifying effects, by getting rid of toxins and such.
What charcoal is not good at is figuring out which chemicals are toxic and which are not. So it actually ends up absorbing all micronutrients in the food, like all the calcium and potassium (among other things) in ice cream. While it doesn’t change the flavour of the food when mixed or alter any compounds, it doesn’t actually make anything healthy. Au contraire, it takes away all the things that make the food healthy.
It can help reduce your hangover, absorbing all the alcohol. And help de-bloat your stomach by cleansing out the intestines and colon.
While it is claimed to be beneficial to health, and it is to an extent, the actual properties and its link to health is a bit blurry and inconclusive.
So the next time you have a goth ice cream, remember it’s cool and detoxifying, but it might not be a great idea to eat too much.