Health and Wellness Help Propel Asian Ingredients into Mainstream
The U.S. market for health and wellness was estimated to be worth $167 billion in 2017. As consumers continue to look for the next superfood to improve their health with nutrition, more and more Asian ingredients are making their way to the mainstream market.
The quest to find secret remedies for health issues has brought new customers to Asian markets across the U.S.—for instance, a Chinese herbal supplement, Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, recently became a hot item after the WSJ reported on claims that Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa could stop coughing. In a recent visit to an Asian market, I overheard a shopper asking for “jujubes.” The shopper said her friend recommended daily consumption of the “herb” for health benefits.
But what is “jujube”? What health benefits does it offer?
How to Use Asian Herbs and Spices to Gain Health Benefits
For those of you who are interested in learning more about Asian herbs and spices and their health benefits, we have identified five commonly used ingredients in Asian cuisines (and tea) for your reference:
Jujube (ziziphus jujuba), a.k.a. Red Date
Jujube, or more commonly known as red date, is an edible fruit with a high antioxidant content. You may find it in dried form at Asian supermarkets. The Chinese believe that jujube is blood-nourishing (as it is rich in iron) and therefore a “good food” for women and older adults. Other nutrients found in jujubes include flavonoids, which can help improve insomnia, and vitamin C, a vital antioxidant that boosts the body’s immune system.
Patients with diabetes are recommended not to have jujubes, as the fruit is high in sugar.
How to use:
- Nourishing Red Dates Tea
- Date and Chrysanthemum Porridge – The mildly sweet congee is great for liver and eye health.
Goji Berry, a.k.a. Wolfberry
Dried goji berry is considered a high-protein snack that offers fiber and lots of minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B2 and iron. The most notable health benefit goji berry offers is its ability to protect the eyes. According to research by the American Academy of Optometry, goji berry is high in zeaxanthin, an antioxidant that benefits vision. Daily consumption of the berry for up to 90 days can protect older adults from macular degeneration.
But WebMD warns that people on blood thinners or who take drugs for diabetes and/or high blood pressure should avoid eating goji berry, as it can interact with their medications.
How to use:
- Goji Berry-Ginger Tea
- Chinese Spinach Soup With Wolfberries and Garlic – The herbal broth is rich in iron and can help lower blood pressure.
Dried chrysanthemum is one of the most popular herbal tea ingredients. High in vitamin A, chrysanthemum is great for liver health and can lower cholesterol levels. Research also finds that chrysanthemum has anti-inflammatory properties. But if you are diabetic and on insulin, do not use chrysanthemum, as it will interact with your medication. People who are allergic to daisies should avoid taking chrysanthemum.
How to use:
- Chrysanthemum Tea
- Chrysanthemum Tea Jelly – A popular dessert in China, the jelly is low in calories but rich in fiber, making it a great “detox dessert.”
Besides being a common kitchen spice, ginger is also used for medicinal purposes in Asia. Ginger is a diaphoretic herb with anti-inflammatory compounds that help relieve pain; it is also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, magnesium and copper. Do not take ginger, however, if you are on blood-thinning medicines or have a fever.
How to use:
- Boiled Coke With Ginger and Lemon – It’s the most delicious cold remedy. If you don’t like Coca-Cola, you may replace it with water and honey.
- Carrot and Ginger Juice – Packed with vitamins A and C, this juice will give your immune system a boost!
American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) and Asian (red) ginseng (Panax ginseng) are two of the most popular types of ginseng. American ginseng is rich in ginsenosides that can relieve stress and enhance neurocognitive function; in other words, it is a great brain food that may save your memory. Asian (red) ginseng is considered to be stronger than its American cousin and is used to boost physical stamina and the immune system.
If you have cardiac disease or are currently taking medication for a health condition, discuss with your doctor before taking ginseng.
How to use:
- Ginseng Tea
- Ginseng Chicken Soup – Koreans consider this soup an energy booster and believe it to be the most effective if consumed during the hottest days of summer.