5 Asian Power Foods
From the Eastern world, comes the 5 Asian Power Foods. What
power? Do they really make us powerful? As the term suggest,
they really do provide us with 'power' – the power to have a
healthier choice of food.
(Note: the foods are not ranked).
Power Food 1
Real name: Glycine max
Birth place: China
Ah, soya beans – the wonder bean. From it we get soya milk,
tofu, soya sauce, fermented soya products (e.g.: Tempe), soya
bean oil, soya protein supplements and vegetarian ‘meat’ (Soya
is used to make meat substitutes for non-vegetarians).
Consuming soya is said to lessen the risk of developing heart
attack and stroke. This is because the isoflavone-rich soya
protein in soya can help lower total cholesterol and LDL (bad)
cholesterol levels. It also increases HDL (good) cholesterol
level. Antioxidant isoflavones in soya can prevent cancers of
the breast, colon and prostate. Taking soy a can
also reduce post-menopausal symptoms. The soyabeans protein and
fibre will stabilize blood sugar level and lower high
triglyceride level. This helps control diabetes, especially type
Power Food 2
A polysaccharide (beta-glucan) called lentinan in
shiitake mushroom has anti-cancer and immune-regulating
properties. The substance is widely used in Japan, as an
additional treatment for cancer and AIDS. In traditional
medicine practice, shiitake is used to treat colds,
constipation, diabetes, gout, headaches and haemorrhoids.
Power Food 3
Real name: Zingiber officinale
Birth place: Tropical Asian countries
If you have to sit in a bus and being driven on a long
winding road, having some dried ginger could help ease
the 'head spinning effect' (nausea).
Native to tropical Asia, ginger roots (or rather
rhizome) is a popular culinary spice. Besides tickling
our taste buds, people have used ginger for relieving
digestive complaints, vomiting, poor appetite, colds,
cough and lowering high cholesterol levels. Gingerols,
compounds in ginger, can reduce osteoarthritis-related
pain and slow down the development of colorectal and
ovarian cancer cells. However, more studies are needed
to validate this claim.
Power Food 4
Real name: Brassica rapa var. pekinensis (heading type)
or var. chinensis (leafy type)
Nicknames: Chinese Broccoli, Chinese cabbage, kailan (Although kai-lan is often called ‘kale’ in English, but
they are actually from different cultivar)
Birth place: China
Fancy some Korean kimchi? Did you know that kimchi is
made from pickled Chinese cabbage? And it is high in
vitamin B (pickled that is). This cruciferous vegetable
has high levels of vitamin C, iron, phosphorus and
potassium. The best thing is that it has only 14 kcal
per 100 grams! Similar to other cruciferous vegetables,
Chinese cabbage has
glucosinolates (that will be broken down into indoles,
isothiocyanates and sulforaphane) of anti-tumour
properties. Pregnant women will benefit a lot from its
high calcium and high folate contents.
Power Food 5
Real name: Camellia sinensis
Birth place: China
Green, oolong or black – craving for a cup of tea
anyone? Taoism founder, Lao-Tzu said that tea is the
‘elixir of immortality’. From the leaves of C. sinensis
plant comes the globally-popular beverage named Tea.
Tea consumption has been linked to cancer-preventive
properties, thanks to tea leaves’ antioxidant;
polyphenols. Tea contains amino acid Ltheanine that
helps calm the mind and promote alertness. Theanine can
enhance anti-bacterial protein production, which will
boost our immune system (to fight infection).
Drinking black tea will help you recover from stress
quicker by decreasing stress hormone levels. Tea can
also lower your cholesterol levels (especially green
tea). Now, do not drink those bottled tea on supermarket
shelves, as they are contained with lots of sugar. Brew
your very own tea instead.