Thursday, July 29, 2010

9 Healthy Reasons to Adopt Chinese Food Habits

Photo: Been There

We all have to eat food every day. But do we always employ the healthiest habits and enjoy our food in the way best suited to our bodies?

I enjoy many kinds of food, and after much experimentation, I have found that the healthiest food habits often have their roots in ancient Chinese customs. The Chinese customs of preparing and eating food are among the healthiest of those of all cultures. Here are some reasons why I think they are healthier:

1. Chinese use chopsticks to pick up food. Their hands never directly touch the food (the way Americans often touch hamburgers or Indians touch nan bread), so there is no risk of bacteria transmitting from the hands to the mouth.

2. Using chopsticks allows you to filter the food a second time. If there is a piece of unhealthy food such as a pig fat, or any non-edible item mistakenly mixed in, you have a second chance to filter these out by using chopsticks. On the other hand, if you are eating a sandwich, often the fat is already mixed in to the ham and it is hard to pull apart a whole sandwich.

3. Chinese food is well-prepared which means it is often chopped into small pieces prior to presentation and consumption. Because of this advanced preparation, there is no risk of dangerous incidents such as cutting your fingers with a knife while eating because the food has already been cut and there is no need for a knife. Similarly, a big piece of meat can pose a problem if it is not well-cooked inside (risking exposure to bacteria) and/or if it is burned on the outside (potential exposure to carcinogens).

4. Most Chinese food is meant to be eaten when it’s warm or it will lose its taste. The heat also keeps the bacteria away. When food becomes cold, bacteria can thrive and grow.

5. Another benefit of eating food when it’s warm is that the Chinese believe in the importance of making sure the temperature of the food and that of your body are similar. Eating cold food can be like putting cold water in fish tank; it can harm the fish. Cold food can cause stomach pains or similar discomforts. Food eaten warm, at body temperature, is natural and healthier.

6. Chinese never eat food without either rice or noodles. A bowl of rice or noodles ensures that you fulfill one of the 6-11 recommended daily servings of starches or grains in the food pyramid.

7. Chinese add vegetables to most meat or seafood dishes to ensure that you are getting your recommended daily servings of vegetables.

8. Chinese really take time to prepare soup. They prefer to obtain their vitamins the natural way. For example, a pig-bone soup takes a long time to cook to ensure that all the calcium from the bone is passed on into the soup.

9. Many Chinese foods include Chinese herbs which can help your body. Soups such as Huang Qi Chicken soup contain the Chinese herb Huang Qi, which will help you recover faster from a cold in the winter.

Among all the different styles of Chinese food, I prefer Shang Hai cuisine. Shang Hai cuisine is lightly seasoned and requires less oil. It’s not as strongly seasoned as Cantonese style, or as spicy as Hunan and Sichuan cuisine, nor is it as sweet as Beijing cooking. Shang Hai cuisine focuses on the natural taste of the food instead of seasoning or sauce. Most seasonings and sauces are full of extra salt and sugar which we all know is not healthy. Based on the above evidence, I conclude that learning the Chinese way of preparing and eating food, along with your daily Tai Chi will make your life healthier and more peaceful.

Copyright 2010 Huan's Tai Chi

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