Culinary Wisdom for Brain Health
Wednesday, October 18th, 2023
Culinary Wisdom: Nourishing Asian-Pacific Traditions for Brain Health
Asian ingredients are known for their nutritive properties. Consumers worldwide are increasingly knowledgeable about food, and the health and wellness trend has always dominated the food industry. Based on this, B2B businesses can capitalise on the health benefits and unique flavours of Asian ingredients by incorporating them into various products. Food writer and environmentalist, Sam Bowman, takes us through some Asian ingredients and their benefits.
Maintaining a healthy diet full of nourishing foods is important for your overall health. What you eat can impact your heart, your gut, your immune system — as well as your brain. Brain health is perhaps the most important since it is the epicenter of all other functions in your body.
While there are foods from all over the world that are nutrient-rich and full of healthy vitamins and minerals, perhaps one of the best diets that is continually shown to have numerous health benefits is the Asian diet, especially Asian-Pacific cuisine.
The Benefits of an Asian-Pacific Diet
Asia is rich with foods consisting of nourishing ingredients that are vital to maintaining a healthy body and mind. One study by the Journal of Ethnic Foods looked specifically at the traditional foods consumed in the Asian-Pacific region, with the conclusion that these foods are “not only rich in nutrition but also have substantial disease-preventing and health-promoting effects.”
The foods studied also showed to have curative properties that help in fighting diseases, such as anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. They also have prebiotic and probiotic agents that play a crucial role in the management and prevention of several diseases.
- Lower risk of heart disease;
- Improved gut health;
- Reduced risk of certain cancers;
- Fewer issues with chronic illness;
- Reduced risk of obesity;
- Lower risk of hypertension.
And, of course, the Asian-Pacific diet is also rich in nutrients that promote healthy brain function, which is especially important for aging individuals. As you age, your cognitive abilities naturally decline, but a diet rich with ingredients that stem from traditional Asian-Pacific foods may help keep the brain healthy and strong for much longer.
Brands can highlight the natural and clean label attributes of Asian ingredients. Many consumers today are looking for products with minimal processing and additives. Align your product offerings with current health and wellness trends, such as plant-based, gluten-free, or low-sugar options, using Asian ingredients that fit these trends.
Asian-Pacific Foods and Ingredients to Add to Your Diet for Better Brain Health
Whether you’re a member of the Asian-Pacific community, someone who enjoys cooking Asian cuisine, or a health-conscious individual, incorporating the following foods into your diet can help you strengthen your cognitive abilities and maintain healthier overall brain function.
Fermented foods have a close connection to gut function. The process of fermentation creates healthy bacteria that are essential to maintaining a healthy gut microbiome. And different Asian-Pacific cultures are known for enjoying several fermented foods, such as burong mustasa (mustard leaf), ca muoi (eggplant), khalpi (cucumber), sinki (radish), and soidon (bamboo shoot).
These are just a few of the many fruits and vegetables that are often fermented in traditional Asian-Pacific food practices. While the direct benefit of eating these foods is to the gut, there’s a strong connection between gut health and brain function.
Ginko biloba is one of the oldest herbal remedies used in traditional Asian medicine, and today, it’s increasingly used to improve neurofunction. It can help with memory and cognition, reduce brain cell death, and may even slow the progression of dementia. It also increases blood circulation, which is essential for healthy brain function.
Ginseng is another popular herb used in Asian recipes and medicines and is often referred to as the ‘cure-all root’. The ginsenosides compounds found in ginseng root hold the properties responsible for improving brain function. Consuming ginseng increases the release of neurochemicals in the brain and boosts blood circulation, which improves mental energy and enhances cognitive function in turn.
Turmeric is often found in a variety of curry dishes and has been vastly studied as an herbal remedy to help treat several health issues.
The primary compound in turmeric, curcumin, works as a powerful antioxidant and has antiseptic properties that protect the digestive tract. It has also been shown to stimulate the repair of neural cells and can help specifically with diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Curcumin can even work as a form of anti-depressant, increasing the release of dopamine.
The Omega-3 acids found in the oils of fatty fishes, like salmon, have been reported by numerous sources as one of the best foods for brain health — and fish is a staple in many Asian cuisines. Fatty fishes are often associated with lower levels of beta-amyloid, a protein that can cause cell damage in the brain.
Fatty fishes also contain docosahexaenoic (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic (EPA), acids known for supporting myelin production and healthy brain cell membrane composition. Omega-3s also have anti-oxidative stress and anti-inflammatory properties.
Several Asian-Pacific greens, particularly leafy greens, are rich in vitamins and minerals that support healthier brain function, such as vitamins E and K, lutein, beta carotene, and folate.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps in reducing oxidative stress. Vitamin K supports healthy blood processes and is essential for producing sphingolipids, which support healthy brain cell membranes. Lutein is a carotenoid that helps with both eye health and cognitive function. And beta carotene is another antioxidant that supports cognitive health.
A few common Asian greens that are rich in these vitamins and minerals include bok choy, mustard greens, cabbage, choy sum, water spinach, lotus roots, snow pea shoots, and chrysanthemum leaves.
Ginger is a common ingredient used in Asian cuisine. It is known to have a number of health benefits such as aiding digestion and relieving nausea. Ginger is also said to increase serotonin and dopamine levels. This can reduce inflammation, which will in turn reduce the risk of developing depression.
Nourishing Foods and the Asian-Pacific Community
The Journal of Ethnic Foods study discusses not only the health benefits of Asian-Pacific foods, but also the importance of these traditional foods in supporting stronger communities — specifically different Asian communities.
Food has long been touted as a shared commonality that brings people together and helps make communities stronger. Communal eating, for example, has been shown to boost well-being, happiness, social connection, and community connection. Food serves as a universal medium that breaks down barriers and brings people together through shared experiences.
Sharing food is particularly important within Asian communities, where there has been a loss of generational knowledge about traditional food practices. When these traditions are lost, research has shown that it can lead to shrinking dietary diversity, as well as declining social acceptance and health awareness.
In contrast, when nourishing foods and knowledge of traditional food practices are shared and kept alive, it can strengthen bonds and better support the health, social connection, and economic growth of the community.
Consuming more foods from the Asian-Pacific region can provide a wealth of health benefits for the brain — but what’s more, this can also help bring back knowledge of traditional food practices that are slowly declining. Keeping these food practices alive can help support the Asian-Pacific community, as well as help anyone who wants to understand different diverse cultural food practices and reap the health benefits that they provide.
MORE FOR YOU:
Fukushima Nuclear Wastewater Fears
Mengniu Yoghurt Pouch Designed for Recyclability in China
Supporting Women’s Health Needs with the Right Ingredients
Edible Packaging — Cups You Can Eat
e-Commerce Packaging: More Than Just a Box
Breaking Down the Benefits of Inclusive Packaging
Sustainability in the International Supply Chain
Plant-based Beverages and Frozen Desserts
Sustainability at the Core
The Demand for Immune Boosting Foods
SHARE WITH FRIENDS: