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C6 Tuesday, September 10, 2013

FITNESS & WELL-BEING

THE MUNCH BUNCH C

ommon they may be, but these basic ingredients still manage to boast some extraordinary nutritional powers. Curry powder A blend of various herbs and spices, curry powder adds flavour to food and forms the base of many spicy South Asian dishes. According to dietician Fion Chow from Tetra Nutritional Consultation Centre, curry powder is an excellent source of dietary fibre, iron and manganese. But what makes curry powder a standout is its high antioxidant content, thanks to its main component, turmeric. This contains a phytonutrient called curcumin, which is thought to reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, strengthen the immune system, and reduce risk of developing chronic diseases, such as heart disease. Many curry dishes tend to be high in saturated fat, however,

which may negate their health benefits, so Chow suggests looking for ways to reduce their fat content – for example, replacing coconut milk with low-fat yogurt and fatty meats with lean meats. Cheddar cheese It’s rich in calcium and phosphorus, which work together for healthy bone and teeth formation. Phosphorus is also essential for the production and regulation of hormones, and the proper functioning of the kidneys, helping them expel toxins from the body. If you are low on energy, this mineral can also give you a boost as it assists digestion and helps your body use energy more efficiently. As a source of protein, cheddar cheese is a definite winner, with as much as 30g in a 100g serving. But Caitlin Reid, a Sydneybased dietician from Health & the City warns that cheddar cheese is high in saturated fat and salt, which are not good for the heart. She suggests choosing

the reduced-fat variety and to stick to small portions. Marmalade Marmalade can be a healthy addition to your diet, if it has real fruit and no added sugar. Reid says that this thick and sticky orange jam contains a good amount of pectin, which is a type of soluble fibre that lowers cholesterol levels and improves bowel health. As it contains orange peel, marmalade is also rich in antioxidants, which help fight free radicals and are thought to keep the immune system healthy. It’s great on toast for breakfast as it gives you the fuel you need to go about your morning, but it contains more than 50 per cent natural sugar so don’t go overboard, Reid advises. Just a thin layer on your toast should do the trick. Popcorn Don’t give up your favourite movie snack just yet. Depending on how it is prepared – ideally, without added oil, butter or salt –

these puffed kernels of corn can be good for you. Kellie Wood, a nutritionist and kinesiologist from Centred Living in Sydney, says that corn offers a variety of health benefits due to its rich concentration of phytonutrients, such as carotenoids and phenolics, which function as powerful antioxidants to promote health and prevent disease. Corn is also packed with vitamins B1 and B5 and folic acid, which are essential for energy production and healthy nerve and cell function. To flavour your air-popped corn, sprinkle it with dried herbs and spices. Chicken bones The healing benefits of chicken soup are thought to come from the chicken bones that go into making the stock. But according to freelance dietitian Daphne Wu, it is not true that boiling down the bones releases nutrients into the soup. “There are actually not many nutrients in the soup itself,” she says. “The way to get the calcium

Curry powder is an excellent source of dietary fibre, iron and manganese from chicken bones is to cook the bones with vinegar for a long time. The vinegar softens the bones and helps release the nutrients.” When making chicken soup this way, remember to remove the layer of chicken fat on the surface, as it is high in artery-clogging saturated fat. In addition to boosting their calcium content, chicken bones also add flavour and richness to soups. Liver Chow says that one benefit of liver is that it contains large quantities of vitamins B6 and B12, and folic acid. These

Midnight tours a breath of fresh air ................................................ Ben Sin life@scmp.com Hong Kong doesn’t have a good reputation among cyclists. Local cycling activist Martin Turner is constantly championing cyclists’ rights in a city he feels doesn’t support the pastime. There are Hong Kong travel pieces in The Guardian and on CBS News that specifically discourage cycling, and even David Byrne, the front man of Talking Heads (and an avid cyclist), called Hong Kong “the worst city for cyclists that I have encountered in the whole world”. A young couple in Hong Kong hope to help change that perception with Bike The Moment, a tour they hope will promote night cycling. For a fee, they’ll provide a bike, and lead riders through Hong Kong island. The latter is a big draw in itself – most Hongkongers have only cycled along bike paths, almost all of which can only be found in the New Territories. To ride on Hong Kong island means to ride on the road, which is completely foreign to most of us because, well, have you seen how narrow Hong Kong’s roads are? Not to worry, Bike the Moment’s founders are adventurous, not crazy. Their night tours start after midnight, because any time before that, Hong Kong’s roads are dominated by cars and probably too dangerous for anyone who’s not an expert cyclist. The after-hours approach not only works on a practical level – the roads are less crowded – but also fits what cofounders Hughes Lau Kai-hin and Queenie Chu have in mind. “We are not serious, competitive riders,” Lau, 27,

Bike the Moment organise adventurous night rides in the city. Photo: Bike the Moment

says. “We both live on Hong Kong island and enjoy exploring the city by doing something alternative, so we each bought a bike and started riding.” The “doing something alternative” part was what sold me on Bike the Moment. I love Hong Kong, but its relatively tiny size and lack of open space (at least compared to my native California) has often left me feeling like there isn’t much to do at night, other than the movie or bar routine. So cycling through the city at night is literally a breath of fresh air. Plus, it’s romantic, so I invite a girl I have a crush on to participate in the ride. We arrive at Sai Wan Ho – where

Chu lives – at midnight and find the couple waiting for us with four bikes. We have a choice of either a full-sized Mini Cooper 7 speeder, a smaller, foldable Mini Cooper, or two Stridas, a funky looking brand of triangle-shaped foldable bikes. As interesting as the Strida looks, my friend and I both choose the Mini Cooper. The ride starts off easily enough. We leave the Tai On Building in Sai Wan Ho and cycle towards the Shau Kei Wan Typhoon Centre, passing by the SoHo East stretch of bars along the way. That part of town is relatively quiet, even during the day, so at night, it’s an easy ride. Then Lau curls out towards Shau Kei Wan Road, the main thoroughfare on that part of the island, and rides west towards Causeway Bay. I’ve cycled on the road in London, New York, and Los Angeles before, but that first minute or two riding on the main road in Hong Kong still leaves me nervous. Although we ride mostly on the side of the road, venturing out to the middle lane only to make turns or avoid stopped buses, Hong Kong’s narrow roads have me riding closer to vehicles moving full speed than at any point in my life. But with

Our rides are casual, with as much emphasis on the view as the ride LAU KAI-HIN, BIKE THE MOMENT

Lau, and my brave female friend seemingly unfazed, I ride on. We turn into Tai Koo Shing and ride through Cityplaza, venturing onto the Via Flori, a private landscape where Swire Properties hold music and art performances during the day. “Yeah, we’re not really allowed to ride through here,” Lau says. “But who cares, it’s late.” We reach the Quarry Bay Promenade by the Eastern Corridor. Lau says he and Chu came up with the idea to start Bike the Moment last autumn, and they spent several nights trying combinations of routes to find the best one. “We’re not really about challenging rides,” he says as we hop off our bikes to admire the view. “Our rides are casual, with as much emphasis on the view as the ride.” After the brief stop, we

venture back onto King’s Road and ride to Causeway Bay, stopping by North Point, for some late night desserts, and a visit to Victoria Park along the way. Inside the dark and empty park, Lau encourages us to let loose and ride full speed through the deserted football fields. It is there that I realise that Hong Kong does have empty space – I just have to explore after hours. We continue riding through Times Square to Tai Hang, then through Hong Kong Stadium to Happy Valley before making the return ride. Here are roads and iconic spots I have frequented hundreds, if not thousands, of times. Yet riding through them offers a new perspective. By the time we return to Sai Wan Ho after the 13-kilometre ride, it is nearly 4am. As Lau bids us farewell, my friend and I, both exhausted and drenched in sweat, look at each other. “That was fun,” she says. “That was different,” I reply. Bike the Moment offers night tours from Sai Wan Ho to Causeway Bay and Causeway Bay to Kennedy Town. Visit bikethemoment.com for booking details

Nutritionists are pushing some unlikely ingredients as the latest superfoods, writes Sasha Gonzales

vitamins reduce the levels of homocysteine in the blood – high levels are said to increase the risk of heart attack, stroke and blood clots. Liver is therefore good for cardiovascular health. In addition, liver contains vitamin A and is a rich source of protein. Chow advises consuming no more than 30g of liver a day, however, because the food is very high in cholesterol. Grilling it and adding it to congee are good ways to indulge in it. Stay clear of fried liver as this only adds unnecessary fat. Kimchi This low-fat fermented Korean pickle is very high in fibre and is loaded with vitamins A, B and C, says Reid. It also is an excellent source of probiotics, healthy bacteria that keeps the gut healthy, strengthens the immune system and assists with digestion. These bacteria are formed as a result of the fermentation process. Kimchi is best enjoyed as a side dish to rice or noodles, but stay away

from varieties to which MSG has been added. Chocolate milk This is not just for kids. Goodquality chocolate milk contains decent levels of cocoa, which is packed with antioxidants called flavonoids and polyphenols. Studies have shown that these antioxidants may reduce blood pressure, diminish platelet function for improved blood flow, reduce inflammation, and maintain cardiovascular health, says Wu. Not all commercially produced chocolate milks are healthy. Chocolate-flavoured milk is likely to contain more sugar and saturated fat, compared to chocolate milk. The ingredients are listed according to weight, so if the label has sugar and whole milk at the start of the list, skip it. Wu recommends making your own chocolate milk with skimmed milk and quality cocoa powder, so you get the benefits without the extra fat or sugar. life@scmp.com

HEALTH BITES Purple sweet potatoes are to dye for As demand for natural food colourings from consumers grows, manufacturers are increasingly turning to root vegetables to replace traditional synthetic colours and colours derived from beetles. Purple sweet potatoes, black and purple carrots are being grown specifically for the natural colours industry. In addition to adding eye appeal to foods and beverages, natural colourings add natural plant-based antioxidant compounds that may have a beneficial effect on health, says Stephen T. Talcott of Texas A&M University, speaking at this week’s American Chemical Society meeting in Indianapolis. Mini water-purification plant saves many lives Diarrhoea from contaminated drinking water is second only to pneumonia as a cause of childhood deaths worldwide. But since 2004, an estimated 32,000 lives have been saved by an innovative waterpurification plant the size of a fast-food ketchup packet. In collaboration with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, consumer goods company Proctor & Gamble developed and has been distributing the packets to developing countries. In May, it reached a milestone: providing its 6th billion quart (5.7 billion litres) of clean drinking water. The non-profit programme, called Children’s Safe Drinking Water, aims to produce 1.9 billion litres of clean water every year in developing countries by 2020. The packet is simple to use: pour one into a bucket of about 10 litres of water and stir. Dirt, parasites and other materials drop to the bottom and disease-causing microbes die. Drink up.

Science supports more nourishing food for a growing world With the world’s population projected to rise from 7 billion today to 9 billion by 2050, food scientists are researching ways to not only increase the food supply sustainably but also ensure it’s nutritious. In North America alone, the diets of people have shed almost 680 million kilograms of unhealthy saturated fat and trans fat – linked with heart disease and diabetes – over the past six years thanks to a new phase in an ongoing agricultural revolution, according to an expert from biotech company Dow AgroSciences. They used advanced breeding to produce canola, soya bean and sunflower plants that are lower in saturated fats, those linked to heart disease, and high in healthier monounsaturated fats. Oils made from them, such as omega-9 oils, are trans-fat free, says Daniel Kittle, speaking at this week’s American Chemical Society meeting in Indianapolis. jeanette.wang@scmp.com


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