(NaturalNews) Striking on any plate, squid ink-infused cuisine is much more than a pretty edible - new research indicates that these unconventional foods are brimming with health advantages. Whether arroz negro of Spain or Venetian fettuccine al nero di seppia, the dark color of these dishes represents a hearty dose of antioxidants and beneficial nutrients. And now researchers have discovered that squid ink protects white blood cell production, which ultimately gives immunity a helpful boost. Moreover, several studies have found that the ink possesses antitumor and antibacterial characteristics.
Black is the new green
Green superfoods have been all the rage for a number of years now, yet health-conscious folks are beginning to discover the equally impressive benefits of black foods - in this case, squid ink. Traditionally used in the cuisine of Japan, Italy and Spain, most commercially available ink is actually from the cuttlefish - a larger, thick-fleshed relative of the squid. But for scientific inquiry (and culinary purposes), the classification is generally squid.
The ink itself is composed mainly of melanin (the pigment that influences skin color), but it also contains proteins, lipids, minerals (especially iron) and the amino acid taurine, as well as dopamine - a neurotransmitter associated with positive mental states.
Not only nutrient-dense, squid ink also has substantial therapeutic value. In one instance, researchers at the Department of Preclinical Medicine in Shenyang, China, found that squid ink encourages natural killer cell activity in lab mice, thereby significantly curbing tumor growth. 
And a study in the Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition discovered that squid ink offers notable radio-protective qualities in animal tests.  Furthermore, researchers at the Modern Biochemistry Center and the College of Food Science and Technology in Zhanjiang, China, established that squid ink protects white blood cell production in mice exposed to the widely used chemotherapy drug cyclophosphamide. 
The ink also demonstrates considerable antibacterial activity against several antibiotic-resistant pathogens, such as Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus epidermidis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.  Additionally, an animal study at Cairo University in Egypt found that squid ink provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. 
1. "Studies of sepia influence on NK cells activity and effect on inhibition tumor in mice" Department of Preclinical medicine, China Medical University, Shenyang, China. Retrieved on November 18, 2013, from: http://en.cnki.com.cn
2. "Study of the radio-protective effect of cuttlefish ink on hemopoietic injury" Lei M, Wang J, Wang Y, Pang L, Wang Y, Xu W, Xue C. College of Food Science and Technology, Ocean University of China, Shandong, China. Retrieved on November 18, 2013, from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
3. "Protective Effects of Squid Ink Extract Towards Hemopoietic Injuries Induced by Cyclophosphamine" Jie-Ping Zhong, Guang Wang, Jiang-Hua Shang, Jiang-Qiu Pan, Kun Li, Yan Huang, and Hua-Zhong Liu. Mar Drugs. 2009 March; 7(1): 9-18. Retrieved on November 18, 2013, from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
4. "Effect of pharaoh's cuttlefish ink against bacterial pathogens" M. Nithya., V. Ambikapathy, A. Panneerselvam. Research Department of Botany and Microbiology, Pushpam College(Autonomous), Poondi, India. Retrieved on November 18, 2013, from: http://www.pelagiaresearchlibrary.com
5. "In vitro antioxidant, analgesic and cytotoxic activities of Sepia officinalis ink and Coelatura aegyptiaca extracts" Sohair R. Fahmy, Amel M. Soliman. Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, Cairo University, Egypt, African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Vol. 7(22), pp. 1512-1522, 15 June, 2013. Retrieved on November 18, 2013, from: http://www.academicjournals.org
About the author: Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through her website www.Thrive-Living.net, she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision.