Food Harmony: Medicine or Poison?
Food Harmony: Medicine or Poison?
  • 홍소영 기자
  • 승인 2011.03.04 20:54
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What do you think is the most important thing in life? Although different people value different things, it is undeniable that health is one of the most important considerations. We all try to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat well in order to maintain wellness. Eating well can mean many things, but when it comes to health it means to eat a well-balanced nutritious and proportional amount of food regularly. However, in modern living avoiding junk and processed foods is becoming more difficult. Given the fast pace of modern life it is not easy to remove these foods from our lives. We need to find balance in our diet, so it is important to understand harmonies in connection with food as well as between foods.

To begin with we have to understand why food harmony is important. First, it helps us to grow and maintain muscle. When we consume insufficient carbohydrates, it is good to eat protein for muscle growth as well as a source of sustainable energy. Second, harmony is complementary to nutrition. For example, it is good to add some vegetables that are full of vitamins to a meal of meat and fish that are the main sources of protein. Finally, food digests more easily if you incorporate nutrients and enzymes that work together to breakdown the food you eat.

Foods that harmonize with each other
Now that we have established the basis for why food harmony is important we can now look at what foods harmonize well with each other. ‘Patjuk’ (red bean soup) contains red bean and small dumplings and is generally eaten during the winter solstice. The small dumplings are nutritious, but they do not contain vitamin B1. The red beans supply vitamin B1. Another case of good food harmony is pork and shiitake mushrooms. Pork is a rich source of protein, but the cholesterol in pork can cause heart disease, high blood pressure, or the hardening of arteries. That is why it is good to eat shiitake mushrooms with pork, because the fiber in the mushrooms can reduce the cholesterol count and prevent various adult onset diseases. Eating pumpkins with egg is also effective in providing nourishment and strength. Additionally, its harmony settles your nerves and the vitamin C and dietary fiber that is lacking in eggs is found in pumpkins. Finally, there is ramyun and vinegar. Foam generated in boiling ramyun retains a poisonous substance. Therefore, if you add vinegar when you boil the noodles, it will control the toxicity.
On the other hand, there are many things that do not harmonize well together. Laver is a type of seaweed, and when a coat of oil is applied to a sheet of dried laver, it can be stored for a long period of time. However this process can produce the lipid peroxide which can cause skin to prematurely age due oxidation as it reacts with the sun and air. Therefore, when eating laver, it is a good idea to dip it in soy sauce. Eating tomatoes with sugar is another example of bad food harmony. In this case, the vitamin B1 in tomatoes cannot join in glycol-metabolism, and is used to dissolve the sugar. The same applies to anchovies and spinach. Spinach contains a high amount of oxalic acid which interferes with the absorption of the calcium found in anchovies. Therefore, when making soup with spinach, using an anchovy base is not appropriate. Finally, let’s look at cucumbers and carrots. Cucumbers are abundant in vitamin C and chlorophyll. Ascorbinase, an enzyme found in carrots, destroys vitamin C. In this case, vinegar can prevent the destruction of the vitamin C in cucumbers.

Harmony with food and drinks
There is also harmony to be found with food and drinks. A common mistake is that many people drink water when they eat spicy foods. However, the spicy sensation of food is generally caused by oils. Oil does not mix with water, nor is it dissolved by water so this is a good example of bad harmony. Instead of water it is better to drink milk because casein (a protein ingredient) blends and removes the fat. There are also many harmonious relationships between alcoholic beverages and different kinds of food. For example, soju and cucumbers; cucumber absorbs the alcohol and makes the taste of soju milder. Cucumber supplement calcium that is excreted by the diuretic effect that occurs after drinking soju and cleans the body. Many people reach for of peanuts when they want a snack to go with beer, but eating too many peanuts while drinking heavily can cause stomachaches due to the oil in peanuts. Eating carrots while drinking can also be bad because the carotenoid found in carrots creates a toxin in the liver when mixed with alcohol. Furthermore, both beer and carrots lower body temperature, so they can cause diarrhea. Thus, other munchies are recommended for beer. There is also harmony to be found with carbonated beverages. We often drink coke with hamburgers, but this combination is bad. Coke contains carbonic acid and inorganic-phosphorus. The phosphoric acid of coke has properties that combine it with the calcium in the body. Therefore, coke breaks down the calcium and minerals found in hamburgers, and can cause bones to get weak. Milk and chocolate don’t go well together either. Both of them contain a lot of saturated fat, so if you consume them together, you may raise your cholesterol level. Therefore, even though they taste good it is not a good idea to drink beverages like hot chocolate and cafe mocha too often.

Harmony between food and containers

Finally, there can also be bad matches between food and containers. Bibimbap and brassware is a good example of harmony between food and containers. Brassware is the best container for bibimbap because it maintains the optimal temperature of 65˚C. Salad should be kept in glassware because it has low heat conductively which is good for retaining freshness. It is also best to store fried food in a wooden bowl. Wooden bowls allow fried foods to keep their crispy texture by absorbing excess fat. An example of bad food and container harmony is nickel-silver pots. They can produce a toxic substance when they are used for a long time. It's good to avoid boiling kimchi stew in a nickel-silver pot because acidic food such as kimchi brings out the toxin. If cooking oil is kept in a plastic container, it may release the chemicals in the oil. Therefore, it is best to store oil in glass bottles instead of plastic containers.

We usually eat three meals a day to keep fit. It is difficult to think of all the various food harmonies at every meal, but it is important to practice step by step. The more we are aware of the science behind food harmonies and how they positively and negatively affect our health, the easier it will be to become accustomed to making the right choices.

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