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Herb & Food Facts



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B


BANANA

Nutritional Properties

Bananas are high in potassium.

Precaution

Eating unripe bananas may cause gas in digestive tracks.

Banana Facts

There are several varieties of bananas. In tropical regions, bananas are available throughout the year. Normally, farmers pick bananas while the fruits are still raw and they slowly turn ripe during the transportation. As a result, bananas are not quite ripe when arrive at grocery stores. It would be better to leave them at the room temperature until ripe.

Raw bananas have one kind of starch that the small intestine cannot digest. The starch may dissolve in the big intestine and causes gas. Because most starch will turn into sugar when bananas are ripe, ripe bananas provide a yummy sweet taste and also easy to digest and do not cause allergy. Hence, ripe bananas are suitable for baby as an addition to milk. [Back to Top]


C


CHILI

Nutritional & Herbal Properties

Chili is high in vitamin C, beta carotene, and bioflavonoid. Chili may help reduce congestion in the nose.

Precaution

Chili may irritate the bowel and digestive system, especially for people who have ulcer. Chopping or touching chili may cause burn or irritation of skin in some people who have sensitive skin. It will cause sharp burning pain if chili got into eyes.

Chili Facts

Chili is rich in vitamin C that our body needs for maintaining healthy skin, tendons and bones. One cup (10 table spoon) of bird chili or goat pepper provides enough of daily vitamin C requirement for the body. Red chilis or peppers provide two times more vitamin C than the green ones do. Chili or pepper is also high in beta-carotene and bioflavonoid: they are believed to have anti-oxidation quality.

Normally, we only use chili for adding spiciness to our food. The spiciness of chili comes from a substance called capsaicin, which is mostly contained in the core (white part) of the chili and its seeds. Like other vegetable, part of its nutritional value gets destroyed from cooking. Often, Thai people use fresh sliced or pounded chili in their salad dishes or sauces. One of the popular and easy to make Thai chili sauce (or salsa) recipes, our vegetarian version, is mixing skinned roasted and mashed chilis or hot peppers with a bit of finely chopped ginger, soy sauce or salt and lime. Optionally, you can add some fine pieces of roasted seaweed or roasted textured-soy-protein (TVP) bits to the chili sauce. This sauce is good with corn chips, deep fried or baked snacks, rice, and fresh vegetable. [Back to Top]


G


GALANGA

Nutritional & Herbal Properties

Galanga is rich in vitamin C. It helps get rid of gas in the stomach and intestines. Galanga has properties in treating some skin diseases caused by bacterias and rash from allergy, and expelling phlegm.

Galanga Facts

We can use almost every part of galanga for cooking. The fully-grown galanga root is a good spice in chili or curry pastes, Tom Yam, galanga soup, galanga chili sauce, etc. Young galanga roots and flowers can be eaten fresh as part of Thai salad dish or with Thai chili sauces.

The medicinal properties come from the essential oil in the galanga. Galanga tea is a good remedy for treating gas in digestive system, reducing fat, and treating inflammation in the respiratory track. Smash or slice fresh galanga root in 2-3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and drink after meal. For treating skin problems, soak sliced or ground galanga roots in rice wine over night. Apply the galanga mixture 3-4 time daily on the skin areas until cured and continue using the mixture for another 7 days.

There is scientific proof that galanga can help expelling phlegms from animals. Putting more galanga in Tom Yam soup may help people who are having a cold or dry coughs. [Back to Top]


M


MULBERRY

Nutritional & Herbal Properties

Examples of mulberry's medicinal properties are reducing blood serum glucose, lowering blood cholesterol and lipids levels, fighting arterial plaques and antiphlogistic, diuretic and expectorant effects. Various compounds present in mulberry that attribute to such therapeutic benefits are GABA, phytosterol, DNJ, flavonoids, alkaloids, steroids, etc. The nutritional values of 100g dry mulberry leafs are: Ca 2,699mg., Fe 44mg., Na 3.4mg., K 3,101mg., beta carotine 7.4mg., vitamin A 4,230 IU, vitamin B1 0.6mg., vitamin B2 1.4mg., vitamin C 32mg., and fiber 52g.

Mulberry Facts

Mulberry has been cultivated and used for around 5,000 years. There were four main varieties: black, red, white, mountain or wild mulberry. Over centuries, there have been over a hundred varieties and many hundreds more local sub-varieties. Because of its diversity, you can find a mulberry tree in almost any altitudes and climates in the world.

For thousands of year, mulberry trees have been cultivated for silk production because silk worms are fed on mulberry leaves. Often, human beings and animals also appreciate mulberry for its fruits and leaves. The berries are consumed fresh, in juice or preserves (like mulberry jam). Mulberry young leaves and stems are yummy vegetable. It also has medicinal properties in infusions such as mulberry leaf tea. Not until the past few decades, scientists started to pay great attention to the medicinal and nutritional qualities of mulberry plants.

There have been researches studying the components and benefits of mulberry leaves for human and animal consumption and pharmaceutical purposes. Studies found that mulberry leaves contain 15%-28% of protein, with essential amino acids, depending on varieties. Studies find that the leaves and young stems are high in mineral content and have no anti-nutritional factors or toxic compounds. Mulberry leaves have typical calcium content around 1.8-2.4% and phosphorus 0.14-0.24%. The values of potassium in leaves are 1.90-2.87% and 1.33-1.53% in young stems, and magnesium 0.47-0.63% and 0.26-0.35% in leaves and stems respectively. Indian scientists have suggested the use of the powdered of white mulberry leaves as a nutritious ingredient for paratha, one kind of Indian breads. In Korea, Japan and Thailand, mulberry fruit and leaves are used as functional food such as ice-cream and noodles, containing powdered mulberry leaves as an ingredient.

The use of the mulberry-leaf powder in ice-cream showed reducing of blood glucose level in consumers, instead of rising. Hence, mulberry-leaf powder could be used in a food item that contains a sugar content in order to maintain the blood sugar level. Reducing the blood serum glucose is only one of the healthy properties of mulberry mentioned in several traditional herbal books like the 'Shin Nou Honzou Gyou' (the Chinese original academic herbal book) 'Kissa Youjouki' written by Eisai Zen Monk in Japan, and the old Latins and folk medicine scripts.

Indigenous medicinal practitioners, for centuries, have used different parts of mulberry plant for treating diseases and symptoms such as high-blood pressure, high blood cholesterol and lipids levels, arterial plaques, diuresis, diabetes, constipation, cough-phlegm, cold, anemia, etc. Scientific researches have confirmed these healing qualities of mulberry plant. Several clinical studies found that mulberry leaf contains GABA (Gamma Aminobutyric Acid), phytosterol, DNJ (Dioxiogirimycin), vitamins and minerals. GABA helps maintain the normal blood pressure. Phytosterol helps reduce cholesterol in blood vessels. DNJ helps reduce sugar in the blood stream: lowers the risk of getting heart disease. DNJ also stimulates the blood circulation and increases the fluid in the body.

A 5-year research conducted in Kanagawa, Japan found that mulberry leaves have various preventive effects on adult diseases. Some of the effects are:

    • Suppressing hypertension

    • Lowering cholesterol level

    • Preventing cancer (liver)

    • Reducing level of blood sugar

    • Suppressing mutagenesis of carcinogens.

Fun with Mulberry

Mulberry fruits are definitely a source of natural dye. They are great to be eaten fresh. Sitting leisurely on a patio chair or mat under a mulberry tree with a glass or juice or a bowl of ice-cream, and waiting for mulberry fruits to fall in your bowl will sure give you pleasant feeling on a warm day. Mulberry jam is also a great topping on your ice-cream. [Back to Top]


P


PINEAPPLE

Nutritional & Herbal Properties

Pineapples provide us some vitamin C and fiber.

Precaution

Some people may get allergic symptoms.

Pineapple Facts

Pineapple is a tropical fruit that is unique in its appearance. No other fruit looks like pineapple. Pineapples provide certain amount of vitamin C, around one-third of our body's daily requirement in 100g of pineapple. The same amount of pineapple provides around 50 calories of energy. However, canned pineapples will not provide the same nutritional and medicinal values as fresh ones because the nutritions are destroyed during the canning and preserving processes. Some canned pineapples will give much higher calories due to added sugar.

Pineapples has an enzyme called bromelain, which helps dissolve clotting blood in vessels. As a result, it is useful in treating heart disease. Bromelain is used in people who have problems in digesting protein. Taking bromelain tablets between meals can help the body digest protein in the food. Bromelain is also useful for treating osteoarthritis and rheumatoid. Some studies also found that bromelain in pineapples could help treat inflammation in sinus and infection in urine track, and have antibiotic quality.

Indigenous people have used fresh pineapples for several medicinal purposes. For example, pineapple juice is good and used for gargling when having a sore throat. It is believed that eating pineapples can help relieve arthritis, inflammation in respiratory track and digestive problems. [Back to Top]


T


TAMARIND

Nutritional & Herbal Properties

Tamarind provides vitamin C. The medicinal properties of its flesh are cleansing and reducing heat from the body. Tamarind seeds help get rid of parasites. The roots of tamarinds can treat dysentery and leprosy. Tamarind shells are can be used for treating running stomach.

Tamarind Facts

Tamarind is a very useful plant. We can use every part of a tamarind tree. It flowers are edible and have sour taste. Tamarind leaves are used in some Thai soup dishes. Tamarind fruits contain tartaric acid and citric acid that can help increase bowel movement. In many cultures, tamarind fruits are used in cooking. We use tamarind in several Thai dishes like dipping sauces, Tom Yam soup, papaya salad, galanga soup, Kaeng Som or sour soup, etc. Because they provide sour taste, we can sometime substitute limes or lemons with tamarinds. Adding some sugar and salt in boiling tamarinds and some ice cubes afterwards gives you a nice glass of refreshing tamarind juice, especially on a hot day.

Tamarind seed is a snack for many local Thai people. The seeds can be roasted and cracked open. After soaking the inside (kernels) in salt water, they are good for munching. They are also used as herbal medicine for ridding parasites. Ground tamarind seed, also called TKP (tamarind kernel powder), is used as food or for making glue because it contains jellose (polysaccharide).

Tamarind has its origin in Africa. It spread to South Asia and to South East Asia around 700 years ago. The original variety provides sour fruits. Around 200 years ago, the tamarind plants in one district of northern central area of Thailand had developed into new varieties that provide sweet tamarind fruits. That's why these days you can find sweet tamarinds eaten as snacks and sour tamarinds mainly used for cooking. [Back to Top]


TURMERIC

Herbal Properties

Turmeric helps reduce gas in the digestive system, cures rashes and wounds on the skin, heals ulcer, may help destroy viruses in the digestive system, and may help prevent cancer in the intestine system.

Turmeric Facts

Turmeric is a very useful herb. It is used in cooking, as medicine and dying colour. Turmeric mainly comprises of a substance called curcumin and essential oil which provides medicinal benefits. The orange yellow colour of turmeric, used for dying, comes from the curcumin.

Thai people, especially in the south, like to use turmeric roots to enhance the flavour and colour of their cuisine such as yellow curry, fish curry and turmeric fried chicken. Turmeric leaves and flowers can be eaten fresh and used in some Thai salad dishes. Fresh white turmeric is popular in several Thai dishes like I-San (northeastern) sausages and chili sauces. White turmeric contains phosphorus which helps strengthen bones, and iron which helps the body build red blood cells.

Turmeric has been a popular herbal medicine for reducing gas and treating diseases in the digestive system, treating skin diseases (e.g., rash, chronic wound, etc.) and inflammation from insect bite, and cleansing since the ancient time. Scientific researches have confirmed many medicinal benefits of turmeric as believed by ancient herbal practitioners. Also, researches have found new medicinal qualities of turmeric in such as preventing liver from being destroyed by toxins, killing some bacterias and viruses, preventing cancer and healing wounds in stomach and intestines, and treating stones in gallbladder.

Fun with Turmeric

Turmeric usually gives out yellow or orange colour when used for dying. It gives red colour when you mix it with limes or lemons. If mix it with Acacia Concinna (Willd.) DC. (scientific name), it will provide green colour. [Back to Top]



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