When I see or hear the word “charcoal,” I immediately think of those black briquettes that are used for grilling (if you don’t have a gas grill). At one time, the only way to grill or barbecue was to buy charcoal briquettes, splash some lighter fluid on them, and light a match. Your food might taste a bit like kerosene, but, who cared?
Now here we are in 2017, and charcoal is one of the top food trends for this year.
And no, it’s not the same as the barbecue briquettes.
Also known as activated charcoal, this pitch-black powder is made from heated coconut shells (coconut anything is another big trend), which is harmless and different from consuming charred foods. If this sounds familiar to you, it is because activated charcoal is used in your water filter for purification and in your hospital for poison absorption. In fact, my daughter Alex told me she first got familiar with charcoal as an ingredient in facial masks that remove toxins and impurities from your skin.
As far as trends go, charcoal is everywhere from bread and baked goods to ice cream, and from juices and smoothies to cocktails. But I’m still skeptical.
Last week, Alex and I walked into my local Nekter Juice Bar after a hard workout. She pointed out, “Oh, look. They’re sampling charcoal juice! Want a taste?”
Did I want a drink of charcoal juice? Alex, you must be kidding!
After a bit of questioning, I tried a small sip of the blackish-gray liquid. It wasn’t so bad!
As it turns out, according to a March 2015 Time Magazine article and a September 2016 POPSUGAR article, not a lot of scientific research has been done on the health benefits of drinking charcoal drinks. But when mixed with other green juice drinks, it seems to be safe enough. Plus, the green drink cocktail masks the chalky, gritty taste of the charcoal.
When I went back to the Nekter Juice Bar last night for my regular green drink, I asked how the charcoal drink blends are selling. I was told that they are very popular and they were sold out!
Instinctively, it makes sense that, if you want to detox your body, a green drink with charcoal would help with detoxing. (You can even make your own!) But as one of the articles warned, don’t have a big charcoal drink within a couple of hours of taking medicine. Also, too much of a good thing might have the opposite effect on your digestion.
For me, I will probably just stick to “the Greenie,” made with a base of kale, parsley, cucumber, and celery with a little apple and lemon for flavor. My naturopath tells me I need to drink at least one green drink a day to help make my body less acidic (more alkaline). This will help reduce any inflammation.
For those of us who have recommitted to healthier habits in the new year, consider just making one small change at a time. So, one of my first commitments for 2017 is to eat more greens. And a green drink at my local juice bar requires no preparation on my part and tastes amazing.
As for charcoal juice, it’s not for me but that should not stop you. Try it and see!