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TOPICS: Pheasants; Origins of tofu; Ginseng; Overheating oil; Chinese herbals

by Jacqueline M. Newman

Newman's News and Notes

Fall Volume: 1996 Issue: 3(3) page(s): 12

PHEASANT FACTS: Did you know that pheasants came to the United States in 1881 thanks to the American Consul-General of Shanghai? At the time he shipped twenty-eight Ringneck pheasants to the Willamette Vallet in Oregon. Each year about eight million of the ancestors of these birds are shot for sport and table. Actually, today's pheasant is a tri-part composite of this species and the English Ringneck, and the Mongolian pheasant.

The Chinese prefer to eat the female because the hen pheasant is smaller, in the two to three pound range. The male can weigh up to five pounds and is the more colorful of the two when alive. I recall a delicious pheasant dish eaten in Beijing. Never had one cooked Chinese style in the United States. Anyone have a great recipe I can try?

TOFU'S ORIGIN: Help settle a disagreement, please. While the origin of the pheasant can easily be traced, the origins of tofu are less clear. Tsai and colleagues in 1981, in the Journal of Food Science reported that tofu was invented about two thousand years ago by Liu-An, a Chinese king of the Hsi-Han Dynasty. They go on to advise that it was first introduced to Japan in the year 1183 CE. Anyone have better information? If so, send it on and we'll advise our readers.

MORE ON GINSENG: For thousands of years, an extract of ginseng has been used by the Chinese and other Asian peoples to elevate mood and reduce fatigue. Recently, in five Finnish health centers, a double blind placebo-controlled study of the effectiveness of ginseng was reported. Groups taking 100mg and 200mg of ginseng daily reported improved mood, vigor, well-being, and better psychomotor performance compared to those in a group that received the placebo. Get a copy of Diabetes Care's Volume 18(10) on pages 1373-1375, from October 1995. There, learn the details or write to Dr. E.A. Sotaniemi at the Department of Internal Medicine, University of Oulu, in Oulu, Finland 90220 for a copy of the article.

OVERHEATED COOKING OIL: Be aware that Chinese women who do not smoke have a high incidence of lung cancer. It is attributed to high temperature wok cooking with unrefined oils. Susan Asanovic, one of our Editorial Advisors told me about an article that discusses this published in the June 7, 1995 issue of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, Volume 87 on pages 836-841. The emission of 1,3-butadiene and benzene from the unrefined oils was 22-fold and 12-fold higher, respectively, that from peanut oil. The authors (Shields and colleagues) advise lowering the cooking temperature or using an oil with an anti-oxidant to decrease these volatile emissions.

MORE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF CHINESE HERBAL MEDICINES: Chan and Critchley, in Human and Experimental Toxicology in Volume 15(1) on pages 5-12, in the January 1996 issue, tells us that although the vast majority of Chinese herbal medicines are safe, the use of toxic herbs, especially preparations containing aconitine or anticholinergics, has led to a number of cases of poisonings. They point out that improper manufacturing, poor quality control, and lack of standardization are all potential causative factors.

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