Where foreigners turn to vitamins, Chinese turn to food therapy: especially women who are vulnerable or concerned about their beauty.
Chinese medicine claims that there are a great variety of foods that have a positive effect on female beauty. The most popular are yams, jujubes, almonds, brown sugar and goji berries, also known as wolfberries.
Yams are believed to protect kidney health, according to traditional medicine. The kidneys and their associated meridians are considered one of the most important elements in a women’s body. Yams contain glycoprotein and other proteins that improve skin elasticity and fight aging. They are also believed to cleanse the lungs – a concern for anyone living in the capital. Yams are usually boiled in porridge or steamed; they are also skewered and used to make sweet tanghulu during winter.
Jujubes are well known for their nutritional value. They are often folded into steamed bread or eaten in Laba porridge, a traditional food of the Laba Festival. They can also be soaked in baijiu or other strong alcohol to make drunken dates, a popular treat in northern China. Red jujubes contain more proteins and vitamins than their green cousins, but both are believed to enrich blood. Red jujube is a common ingredient in women’s healthcare products.
There are two kinds of almonds, and both are considered a health aid unless you eat too many. Sweet almonds can be eaten directly as a good source of unsaturated fatty acids. They are popular in summer because of their purported whitening effect. Many trace elements in sweet almond can also aid in weight loss. Bitter almond is used in medicines to fight coughs and clean the lungs.
Goji berries are a precious medicine and nutritional supplement. They are believed to “brighten” the eyes and soothe the nerves. Orange goji berries also contain natural carotene that improves the skin and eyes. People usually add individual berries to their porridge or tea.
Brown sugar is made of pure sugar cane. Since it is not refined, brown sugar contains all the other nutritious elements of cane sugar. It is easier for the body to absorb and contains many essential elements like calcium and iron that are lost during a woman’s menstrual period. Women often drink ginger water sweetened with brown sugar to fight off menstrual cramps.