Thursday, February 27, 2014

"I've Got Filipino Phood On My Mind"

We have seen many diet mania over the years. It seems like one or two will make the scene every other week. But do they really work? Honestly. Do you really take the time to pick one out, follow the guidelines and actually see results?

I'm sure that many of you have been very successful and to that, a big congratulations. But, for those who have fallen off the wagon, get up and don't give up. Getting up is the first step. But giving up on the dream to loose those extra pounds always opens up to the possibility of trying out the  latest weight loss dietary supplements that are up for grabs in your grocery stores.

The social media have been flooded with these supplements promising to make you loose weight in as little as one week. In an era of instant gratification, one cannot escape the marketing strategies of these tempting come on ads. I myself have been a victim one way or another. It's hard not too.

What caught my attention was the latest Garcinia Cambogia that was featured at The Dr Oz Show. Reason? It was said that the main ingredient in this supplement came from a tamarind like fruit from Indonesia and other Asian countries. 

Then I started thinking, Really? From Asia? Tamarind? I love tamarind. 

I remember eating fresh tamarind back home growing up in the Philippines. Bushels of this sweet and tangy fruit are always for sale in the market, they practically give them away. Mind you, these were the fresh ones. Not the candied ones you can buy from the oriental market here in the states. 

Freshly harvested tamarind fruit

Candied Tamarind...yummmmmmm

As the wheels in my head started turning, I was roused to reminisce of the savory food I grew up eating. My mouth is starting to water as I am writing this post. I can remember the flavor of a single bite as I envision sinking my teeth into each and every delicacy I can think of at the moment. Memories of my growing years in the Philippines starts tickling my senses and I cannot help but to feel like I am there all over again. Don't you just love daydreaming ?

Anyway, back to the post. I figured I can feature some Filipino fruits and vegetables with its corresponding health benefit that may serve useful now or later. Here are what's on my list.


I love papaya. It's rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. It also has properties which aid weight loss. Papaya contains the enzymes papain and chymonpapain, which helps the body’s digestion process. It is also an excellent source of fiber.Oh yeah, I remember now. Papaya always does it for me.

Like other fruits, mangoes are flavorful, but low in calories. Mangoes are also rich in Vitamin A, which is not just beneficial to eye health, but also to weight loss. Because mangoes are high in Vitamin C, they can also help promote a higher rate of fat burning during exercise.

Pineapples are common in a lot of diets because of its nutritional properties. One cup of pineapple contains 2.3 grams of fiber, which is important in weight control. Pin-ya as we fondly call this mouth watering fruit has a legendary myth  on how it acquired those multiple "eyes" as the covering for the fruit. 

Lansones, its delightfully sour and sweet taste, is now considered as priority High Value Commercial Crops of the Philippines. This mouth watering fruit is rich in vitamin A, which helps form and maintain healthy skin, teeth, skeletal and soft tissue.


"Buko" or Coconuts are highly valued for their health benefits. Coconut water, for instance, is often referred to as “nature’s sports drink” because of its electrolyte potassium content. I remember walking through the streets of Manila and buying fresh coconut fruit from the sidewalk vendor as he skillfully opens the coconut.

Malunggay or Moringga

A well-known backyard plant in the Philippines, it has been gaining international attention for being a "superfood" rich in nutrients and minerals. For every pound, malunggay has seven times more Vitamin C than oranges, three times more potassium that bananas, four times more Vitamin A than carrots, two times more protein and four times more calcium than milk.

"Kangkong" or water spinach
A high source of iron, calcium, vitamin B and C. Mild in flavor, all parts of young kangkong are preferred, edible from the shoot (stem) to the leaves. Great for stir fry meat and soup. Cook these like how you would spinach. Can't go wrong.

"Repolyo" or cabbage. 

Hey...we all know about this. Cabbage provide cholesterol-lowering benefits if you cook it by steaming. The fiber-related components in cabbage do a better job of binding together with bile acids in your digestive tract when they've been steamed. When this binding process takes place, it's easier for bile acids to be excreted, and the result is a lowering of your cholesterol levels.

"Ampalaya" or Bittermelon

Ampalaya has been a folkloric cure for generations but has now been proven to be an effective herbal medicine for many ailments. Ampalaya is widely used by Filipinos  as an alternative herbal medicine for liver problems. Research about Ampalaya has shown that this vegetable increases the production of beta cells in the pancreas, thereby improving the body’s ability to produce insulin. I used to remember my grandmother telling me to eat the Ampalaya dish she cooked. "Masarap 'yan at magaling para sa diabetes." It tastes good and good for your diabetes. Was she on to something?

 I also would  like to share with you a link to a few sites where you can find featured recipes with pictures of some delectable and scrumptuous Filipino dishes.

These are only a fraction of what the Filipino cuisine has to offer. With its rich natural resources, Philippines is packed with variety of food sources  in many different forms. The flavors of the Philippines, so rich and decadent is still embedded in my taste buds despite being away from there 27 years and counting. 

Just like any other cuisines in the world, the Filipino menu offers a unique taste of what the country is really all about. Yet, I do remember now that flavors only count for a part of the whole experience. It is the memory of how we were able to buy the food, watch my mother or grandmother cook, and sitting down around the table enjoying the fabulous feeling of being together. 

Food gives our body the nourishment it needs. Yet, sometimes it 'll also give you more than what your body will really need. No matter what food can offer you, the most important thing to remember is to eat in moderation, exercise, and take good care of yourself. 

If you find yourself picking up a bottle or two of that latest diet supplement, check with your physician first. As nurses, we like to emphasize patients' safety. It's time that we think about our safety as well.

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