Dinner is a Date with the Doctor: 5 Asian Superfoods

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Medicine doesn’t always come in a pill. In fact some of the most powerful medicines are delicious and can be found at your local supermarket or “farmacy”. Healing foods have been used for centuries in Asia as part of the cuisine. In Asia food and medicine are often the same thing.

Here are five foods you may never have heard of but can be found at most Asian markets and even places like Whole Foods. Try them. You might be surprised by their unique and extraordinary good taste. And they may help you lose weight, reverse diabetes, lower cholesterol and prevent cancer.

Konjac: The Asian Super Fiber

Long used to make konnyaku, a jelly prepared in Japan for over 1,500 years whose medicinal properties were appreciated as early as the 6th century, konjac fiber or glucomannan has multiple benefits. Konjac is much more viscous than usual fibers, retaining up to 17 times its weight in water.

Expanding in the stomach and the small and large intestine, it absorbs fat, accelerates elimination, reduces cholesterol, blunts sugar absorption, and facilitates weight loss, in part by increasing feelings of satiety. You have it as jelly or noodles called shirataki.

Arame: A Wonder of the Sea

Arame is a marine brown algae, or sea vegetable, that can be added to soups, stir fries, or even made into a sea vegetable salad. It is rich in minerals calcium, iron, zinc, manganese, folate, vitamins A & K, and iodine. It also boosts immunity and helps bind toxins in your body. Some even say it helps boost sex drive.

Shitake Mushrooms: Healing from the Earth

The earthy shitake, or Chinese black mushrooms, boost immunity through special polysaccharide molecules and can help prevent cancer. They are also full of minerals, especially iron, and they appear to decrease binding of immune cells to your arterial wall preventing atherosclerosis. Aside from exposure to the sun and eating herring, mushrooms are one of the few ways you can get vitamin D. Think of them as the sunshine food.

Daikon: The Other White Meat

Daikon is a mildly flavored large East Asian white radish. It looks like a giant white carrot. It contains digestive enzymes that help you break down food and they contain myrosinase that boosts detoxification of environmental chemicals. Daikon is high in vitamin C and folate. Like its relatives broccoli, cabbage, and kale, daikon is a cruciferous vegetable that offers cancer-protecting potential. It can be grated and eaten raw in salads, in stir-frys, or in soups.

Umeboshi Plums: A New Kind of Pickle

These red little Japanese plums add a perky taste to stir fries and soups. Besides their scintillating flavor, Japanese pickled plums have remarkable medicinal qualities. Their acidity has a paradoxical alkalinizing effect on the body, helping with fatigue, enhancing digestion, and boosting the elimination of toxins. This is the Far Eastern equivalent to both aspirin and apples; it is a great hangover remedy for mornings after; and an umeboshi a day is considered one of the best preventive medicines around.

To learn more about the power of food as medicine, see www.drhyman.com.

Now I’d like to hear from you …

What are your favorite super foods?

Have you eaten any of the super foods discussed in this article? What do you think of them?

How have you used food as medicine recently?

Please leave your thoughts by adding a comment below – but remember, we can’t offer personal medical advice online, so be sure to limit your comments to those about taking back our health!

To your good health,

Mark Hyman, MD

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7 Responses to Dinner is a Date with the Doctor: 5 Asian Superfoods

  1. Avatar of Claudia Graham
    Claudia Graham March 13, 2013 at 5:24 pm #

    I love all these super foods. May I eat as much as I like on the Advance Plan?

  2. Shu-Hui Kirkpatrick March 8, 2014 at 12:02 am #

    My favorite way of making daikon dish is threading & picking it before I add to my salad. Delicious! Shitake mushrooms taste every good when I stirred fry them.

  3. nancy hayes April 28, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    DEAR DR HYMAN , after going to drs, for 10 yrs with no results and the lahey clinic in boston , only to be told i have IBS put me on valium/ and anit spasmodic.s nothing helped.
    FINALLY found this organic nutritionist , and she told me i had gluten and yeast disorder.
    she put me on all good whole food. no breads. etc. and probiotics . i have now enjoyed 20 yrs of health. we must get this message out to the people. some do not want to listen.
    WHEN I READ ABOUT PEOPLE IN THE HYMALAHIA’S LIVING TO 115 YRS OLD. WITH GOOD EYESIGHT… AND NO CANCER, AND IT WOKE ME UP.. ITS THE FOOD AND ENVIORNMENT, WE ARE EXPOSED TO.
    AND DR HYMAN.. HOW CAN WE GET HEALTHY WATER ?????? ITS ALL DEPLEATED. OF MINERALS AND OR IN PLASTIC.?? THANK YOU

  4. juan carlos August 7, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Dear Dr Hyman:

    Dear Dr HYMAN:

    I have a friend with hepatis C, would recommend you eliminate from your diet?
    is there any substitute for refined sugar?
    integral sugar, agave and fruit are good choices?
    Thanks for your time and kindness
    forgive me for the bad translation

    • Avatar of Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff
      Dr. Hyman Nutrition Staff August 7, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

      Hi Juan,
      To optimize health, Dr. Hyman recommends reducing or eliminating all forms of sweeteners – natural and artificial! Instead, enjoy the natural sweetness of fruits and vegetables which are full of vitamins and minerals too!
      Wishing you the best of health,
      Dr. Hyman Staff

  5. juan carlos August 11, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    thank you for your fast response

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