The Lunar New Year is a celebration over many days involving much tradition. The food, as well as each meal of the celebration, has substantial meaning in the Chinese culture. Many of the foods are consumed for luck in the coming year, and the preparation and manner of serving additionally reflects the meaning of good luck.
There are many delicacies and types of food that are eaten during the Lunar New Year. These traditional foods often symbolises certain meaning along with many health benefits for athletes and runners, which some of us might not know.
Today we explore the health benefits of the 11 types of commonly eaten food during this joyful festive occasion.
1. Whole Fish
Whole fish is always served completely intact, the whole fish is a symbol of life and luck. The word 魚 (yú), meaning ‘fish’, has the same pronunciation as the word 余, which is ‘remain’ or ‘surplus’, ‘having leftovers of money’, an increase in prosperity.
Fish are packed with Omega 3 fatty acids. Health benefits from these fatty acids are numerous, but the major aid is as an anti-inflammatory. Relieving joint pain associated with running and also reducing stress-induced asthma, which can impact runners at later stages of endurance limits. 100 calories per serving, may vary on type of fish.
Though it is fast becoming one of the ocean’s most endangered animals, it is still a primary demand in Asia. The abalone, in addition, is prized for its name – Bao Yu, intonated differently, can also mean ‘assurance of surplus’ and across the Asia, people believe it is good luck to eat them.
Abalone meat is high in protein and low in fat, making the sea snail an excellent food for sustaining stamina. It is a good source of selenium that has shown to be effective as a mood enhancer. (Selenium is an especially important nutrient for men, since sperm contains a high percentage of the mineral.) Abalone is also a good source of magnesium and contains B12 vitamins, which can be helpful in raising metabolism. 89 calories per serving.
3. Chinese Dumplings (Jiaozi)
Chinese dumplings are traditionally made on New Year’s Eve in the shape of a coin, the meaning is wealth. Stuffed with cabbage or pork and served with a sauce of vinegar or soy sauce. The wrapper and the cabbage provide fiber, manganese, folic acid, and also Vitamin K for bone strength. The vinegar is a natural toxin reducer, assisting to cleanse the body and remove acidic build up causing joint pain or muscle aches. 45 calories per portion.
4. Spring or Egg Rolls
Spring or egg rolls represent money, wealth, and gold because of the shape of a gold bar. These give runners Vitamin K from both cabbage and carrots along with fiber from the vegetables. Protein from any meat that may be additional in the filling and the wrapper will be made from whole grains which in themselves have numerous health benefits. Fiber, antioxidants, minerals, vitamins, and healthy fats are all found in whole grain. 200 calories per serving.
5. Mandarin Oranges and Fresh Fruit
Gold and wealth are again symbolised with the mandarin orange, and the additional fruits are for health and wellness. Vitamin C is the largest benefit to runners with this meal. Free radical reduction is huge and vitamin C plays a large part in boosting the immune system in order to reduce such cancer-causing and illness-inducing free radicals. Fiber is also abundant in fresh fruits and very beneficial to colon health. 35 calories per serving.
6. Nian Gao (Rice cake)
A cake made of glutenous rice flour, brown sugar, coconut or sesame oil, traditionally means safety and good fortune. Nian Gao benefits runners because it is free of animal products, truly a vegan dish with no refined products or processed foods. Complex carbohydrates along with fatty acids from natural oils benefit good cholesterol levels and better vitamin and mineral absorption. 250 calories per serving.
7. Lotus Roots and Seeds
Lotus roots and seeds represent a full wallet and the blessing of many male offspring. They have several benefits for runners. The fiber aids digestion and reduces constipation issues, complex carbohydrates help reduce blood cholesterol levels, high levels of Vitamin B complex includes folic acids, niacin, and riboflavin which all help reduce tension and heart attack. The seeds are especially high in Vitamin C which lessens viral infections, speeds wound healing, and also aids in the removal of free radicals.
The roots are rich with copper, zinc, magnesium and manganese all of which benefit the health and regeneration of red blood cells. The root has sodium and potassium, the sodium gives sweetness and the potassium counteracts the sodium to regulate blood pressure. 5 calories per root slice.
8. Long Noodles
Long noodles are famous for its symbolic of long life. Provide the benefits gained from whole grains and complex carbohydrates. Best eaten after a hard workout or long run to replace lost energy and regain optimal blood sugar levels. 150 calories per serving.
Considered sweets and traditionally found in cookie pockets called gok jai, along with peanuts and sesame- symbolises togetherness and benefits runners with a great source of natural fiber, antioxidants, potassium, and electrolytes. Restoring lost energy, raising good cholesterol, and leveling out blood sugars and pressure. 200 calories per 3 cookies.
10. Long Leafy Greens and Long Beans
Chinese broccoli symbolises long life and close family ties. They benefit runners with fiber and copious amounts of vitamins and minerals. Vitamin K, Vitamin E, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, and also nutrients of beta-carotene and lutein. Many of these have been previously discussed; however leafy greens add benefits for eyesight and cell protection. 20 calories per serving.
Vegetarian dish made with sea moss, lotus seeds, lily buds, noodles, and black mushrooms. It symbolises longevity and benefits runners on a broad scale. Lotus seeds and noodle benefits shown previously. The addition of sea moss, lily buds, and black mushrooms adds cancer protection properties of lignans and iron for blood health both found in plant compounds. 45 calories per serving.
In conclusion, stay happy, healthy, and enjoy the benefits of all foods. Consume not only good flavors, but foods that are good for you in order to maintain a balance of nutrient and calorific input for your needed energy output. Healthy foods are necessary and delicious but do remember to keep moderation in mind too.
RunSociety wishes everyone that celebrates the Lunar New Year, a very happy, healthy and prosperous year of the snake!