Thursday, January 19, 2012

KOREAN FOOD: Korean Perilla (Ggaennip or Kkaennip) (2)

NUTRITIONAL FACTS & HEALTH BENEFITS:  Eat Cancer-Fighting Korean Perilla Leaves 

     You can grow Korean perilla plants in pots 
     (not  only in your garden).  Just sow 2~3 
     seeds per pot.  The seeds require light to 
     germinate.  Keep the soil moist during the 
     germination immediately after sowing and 
     until they start to germinate.  You can also 
     sow the seeds in disposable plastic cups 
     then transplant them in the pots after
     germination occurs.

Cancer-Fighting or Preventing Benefits

Korean research has shown that Korean perilla leaves are full of active substances that can eliminate from our body sodium nitrite in cured meats (such as bacon, ham, or sausage) that may be linked to cancer.  They are also rich in chlorophyll which has been known to offer protection against cancer (Park et al, 2007).1  In fact, chlorophyll may well deserve the nickname of “Green Miracle” as it exhibits antioxidant activity and prevents cell mutations, the major initial cause of cancer.  Antioxidants protect your cells against the effects of free radicals, which are potentially damaging by-products of the body’s metabolism. Free radicals can damage cells, which may lead to the development of cancer and cardiovascular disease.  It was confirmed, in a recent Western study (McQuistan et al, 2011), that chlorophyll protects against the formation and growth of tumors.  Their research results show chlorophyll blocks carcinogen absorption and use by the cells.2   Korean perilla leaves are loaded with anthocyanins (contained in the purple reverse side), flavonoids, and pytols as well that also exhibit anticancer activities. 

Since Korean perilla leaves contain high levels of vitamin A and C, they are nicknamed “Ultimate Remedy on the Table” in Korea.  Smokers (and also people under stress) need 35 mg more vitamin C per day than nonsmokers.  Just like chlorophyll, vitamin A and C may help keep your blood vessels clear and combat abnormal blood clotting by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized, and help boost your immune system.  And dietary fiber contained in Korean perilla leaves will help improve the process of digestion and help the body rid of toxic waste product by achieving normal bowel movement. 

Studies have shown that if you eat burnt or charbroiled (red) meat (such as steak, galbi, (갈비, “barbecued short ribs”) or bulgogi (불고기, “grilled beef”)) on a regular basis, then you will have a 60 percent higher risk of pancreatic or colon cancer.  It’s due to benzo[a]pyrene that is found in coal tar, fumes, smokes, and charred/burnt meats.  So it is a wise thing to eat galbi or bulgogi as Koreans do – always eat it wrapped in Korean perilla leaves and/or lettuce along with sliced gochu (고추, “Korean pepper”) and sliced maneul (마늘, “garlic”).  For all these vegetables are fully loaded with all the antioxidant, anticancer, and internal body cleansing substances mentioned above.  

Eat like a Korean

Korean perilla leaves' essential oils are called alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  ALA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid and can be used to prevent or fight breast and colon cancer as it exhibits antioxidant activity, prevents cell mutations, the major initial cause of cancer, inhibits cancer formation, suppress the cancer cell proliferation, and help boost your immune system.  In breast cancer studies, it was proven the higher the level of ALA in breast tissue, the less likely the cancer was to spread into the lymph nodes of the armpit or to be invasive.  (Beware ALA may actually raise some men’s risk of getting prostate cancer though.)

1.  Park, K. Y. et al. Amul Iginun Hangukine Eumsik 54 Gaji (54 Korean Foods that Fight Cancer). Yonhap News Press. 2007, 83.

2.  Note that the researchers found out that when carcinogen exposure was significantly increased, the results were just the opposite - chlorophyll increased the number of tumors at very high carcinogen exposure levels. However, they described this level of toxin exposure as “unrealistic.” (McQuistan et al. Cancer chemoprevention by dietary chlorophylls: A 12,000-animal dose-dose matrix biomarker and tumor study. Food and Chemical Toxicology. 2011 Nov 3.)

Other Benefits of the Omega-3 Fatty Acid (ALA) & Chlorophyll

Okay.  I mentioned above that Korean perilla leaves are so rich in vitamin A and C that may help keep your blood vessels clear and combat abnormal blood clotting by preventing cholesterol from becoming oxidized. The omega-3 fatty acid ALA can be converted into EPA and DHA in your body, thus just like vitamin A and C work in our body, it can help prevent heart attacks, lower high blood pressure, reverse atherosclerosis, and probably lower cholesterol.  ALA is also known to help treat rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, diabetes, lupus, multiple sclerosis, renal disease, and ulcerative colitis. 

The omega-3 fatty acid ALA is essential for normal human growth and development; hence ALA deficiency can lead to a growth delay or growth disorder, infertility, or skin diseases.  Besides, ALA contributes not only to a strong brain and good vision, but probably to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). 

Chlorophyll richly loaded in Korean perilla leaves can also help prevent and combat the heart- and blood-related diseases.  Chlorophyll purifies blood, makes fresh and clean blood, heals wounds faster than penicillin or vitamin D, revive damaged cells, and functions as an anti-allergen.  It also can be used as a natural appetite stimulant or used in gastrointestinal disorders like diarrhea or constipation.

Benefits of Minerals

Korean perilla leaves are one of the best sources of alkaline foods that contain minerals such as calcium, iron, potassium, and phosphorous. Potassium is essential for human growth and maintenance. If you like salty foods, you’d better eat potassium-rich vegetables like Korean perilla for it helps eliminate excess sodium from your body and is necessary to keep a normal water balance between the cells and body fluids. It is essential for proper heart function as well. Potassium deficiency may lead to insomnia, irregular heartbeat, kidney/lung failure, muscle cramps, twitching and weakness.

Korean perilla leaves contain five times more calcium than spinach leaves.  And there’s 211 milligrams of iron in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of Korean perilla leaves while only 2.5 milligrams in the same amount of spinach leaves.  This means 30 grams (1.05 ounces) a day of Korean perilla leaves are a great vegetarian alternative for beef liver, hence a great home remedy for anemia.  FYI, when you use Korean perilla leaves in your cooking, make a salad with vinegar or lemon juice dressing to help increase calcium absorption.

Organic Korean perilla leaves: 1,000 won per pack (30g)
This much of perilla leaves a day keeps a doctor away.

Nutritional Components of Korean Perilla Leaves

Fat (g)
Protein (g)
Carbohydrates (g)
Dietary Fiber (g)
Perilla Leaves

Iron  (mg)
Calcium (g)
Phosphorous (mg)
Other Minerals (g)
Perilla Leaves

Vitamin A (IU)
Vitamin B2 (mg)
Vitamin C (mg)
Vitamin B3=Niacin (mg)
Perilla Leaves
(per 35g each, Korean Rural Development Administration)

Benefits of Vitamins

Korean perilla has almost 8 times more vitamin C, which is one of the most important of all vitamins, than lettuce leaves.  Vitamin C has also been considered an outstanding antioxidant and effective antiviral agent.  As I mentioned earlier, therefore, smokers need 35 mg more vitamin C per day than nonsmokers and also people under stress require a slightly more.1  In Korea, perilla leaves have been used to prevent and treat auricular neuralgia since vitamin C contained in them contribute to strengthening peripheral blood vessels.  When you use Korean perilla leaves in your cooking, eat them raw and uncut.  According to a Korean study, cutting the leaves resulted in as much as 40% loss of vitamin C.2  If necessary, try to cut the leaves just before you eat it.  For even more vitamin C will be lost by oxidation if you leave the cut leaves exposed to the air.

Vitamin K contained in Korean perilla leaves is fat soluble and contributes in the body to controlling blood clotting and synthesizing the liver protein that controls the clotting.  This is why Korean people have traditionally used the perilla patch to cure damaged skin.  It also regulates calcium levels in blood and activates (at least) three proteins involved in bone health.

2.  Choi, Young Hee, “Changes in Vitamin C and Minerals Content of Perilla Leaves by Different Cooking Methods.” The Journal of Korean Society of Food Science. Vol. 19, no. 2.  Oct., 2003: 174-180

Benefits of Flavonoids

Korean perilla leaves are loaded with flavonoids which are known for anti-wrinkle and anti-aging properties. Of course, flavonoids can fight skin cancer as well as migraine, depression, and other allergic and inflammatory conditions. So, if you want to keep your skin beautiful, healthy, and young, eat a diet that contains flavonoid-rich foods like Korean perilla leaves or dark chocolate.


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