The China Food Science & Technology Net has just posted its top ten list of foods for women in their thirties.
|Pig blood - recommended for anaemic female bus drivers|
Just as in the British media, there’s no shortage in China of articles telling women how to stay looking young and beautiful by choosing the right foods. A big difference, though, is the kinds of food that health experts recommend, and the reasoning behind those choices, which says a lot about how food fits within Chinese culture.
Here’s the list in full, with edited highlights of the justifications for each choice.
- Honey. This moistens the lungs and promotes healthy bowel movements, is an antiseptic, and good for the complexion. Drink a cup of honey-water each morning on an empty stomach to cleanse your system and make you beautiful.
- Carrot. The Chinese call the orange carrot the ‘barbarian radish’, as it was unknown in China until introduced from Europe. It’s prized for its ability to attach itself to lead and mercury ions in the bloodstream, and is recommended for women who suffer from skin blemishes caused by using cosmetics with too much heavy metal content. This says as much about the danger of using Chinese cosmetics as it does about the properties of the humble carrot.
- Seaweed. Rich in iodine to expel unwanted substances from the blood, and sulphate polysaccharides to rid the body of cholesterol.
- Tree fungus. These “wood ears”, a kind of crinkly, black mushroom, contain highly absorbent plant colloids which soak up dirt and debris in the gut and excrete them. They’re said to be very good for women who work in environments with lots of air-borne dust pollutants. Legislation might have put an end to this in the UK, but there are millions of women in China who work in very dirty, unregulated industries where this is a real concern to them.
- Bitter gourd. Very good for the complexion. These very knobbly, very bitter-tasting cucumbers are believed to contain proteins with anti-cancer properties, which boost the immune system and rid the body of dangerous toxins. They also help regulate and ease menstruation, which mean they well deserve their place on the list.
- Lychees. The ideal food for relieving internal heat and stopping diarrhoea, lychees are also good for detoxifying the blood and improving the complexion. They nourish the kidneys, improve liver function, and keep skin supple. Women, the article notes, often suffer from rough, dry skin caused by weak kidneys that result from too many late nights.
- Pig blood. Think of it as black pudding without the added fat and rusk. The Chinese eat this in soups and rice porridge as solidified cubes with the consistency of an opaque, pale-brown jelly. It’s actually quite tasteless, and personally I can take it or leave it. Women, though, will definitely benefit from its high iron levels. It also gets broken down, apparently, by human stomach acids into byproducts which detoxify and cleanse the gut and help the body to excrete metals and debris. Like tree fungus, pig blood is recommended for women who’re exposed to lots of pollutants at work, for example drivers who spend their day breathing in China’s appalling traffic fumes.
- Mung beans. These detoxify the blood and promote the metabolism. Many women these days eat too many fatty, fried foods, which can give them itchy, blotchy and spotty skin. Mung beans are good at counteracting this, and also lower cholesterol, strengthen the liver, and dampen the allergic response. Try mung beans with honey for a detox beauty treatment.
- Tea. No surprise that the Chinese recommend their national drink for female health! It’s good for alertness and bright eyes, and is refreshing and thirst-quenching. Tea polyphenols are natural antioxidants which detoxify the body.
- Cucumber. A bit of a left-field choice, these are said to contain what I can only translate as “cucumber acids”, which are said to be good for metabolism. They have high vitamin C levels, which give women a beautiful, white complexion and elastic skin, and which inhibit melanin production (in the Far East in general, a tan is a sign of being a peasant, while pale skin is an indicator of leisure and wealth). Cucumber acids are also claimed to inhibit the metabolism of sugars into fats, to keep you slim.
Bon appetit! Qing manyong!