The Nanfang / Blog


Avoid Cancer By Passing On These Famous Chinese Dishes

Posted: 07/23/2014 9:04 am

lamb skewersCancer: there’s good news, and there’s bad news.

The good news is that the People’s Daily reports that a whopping 60 percent of all cancer is preventable in China. The report said a balanced diet is the key to prevention, adding that 43.3 percent of all cancerous tumors in Chinese patients grow in the digestive tract.

The report states:

  • inadequate fruit consumption causes 13 percent of cancer deaths
  • inadequate vegetable consumption causes 3.6 percent of cancer deaths
  • inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption combined causes 14 percent of stomach cancer deaths

And yet, the price of a healthy lifestyle comes at a heavy cost.

The bad news is that the Tumor Department of the Academy of Chinese Medical Science says there are specific foods that one should leave out of one’s diet. They are:

  1. Pickled foods like salted vegetables, salted fish
  2. Barbecued foods like chuanr (lamb kebabs), roast meat, roast duck, roast goose, and roast pork
  3. Smoked foods like smoked tofu, smoked eggs, and smoked fish
  4. Deep-fried foods
  5. Fermented foods like thousand year eggs and stinky tofu
  6. Leftover foods and reboiled water

New expats to China may be unfamiliar with some of these while seasoned expats may have already come to dislike some of them. But long-term expats will immediately see the significance of this list: it represents many of China’s most famous culinary accomplishments.

Your diet may be very different from a local Chinese who doesn’t go for Tex-Mex on the weekends, or indulges in a hamburger at the sports bar after work. But by living long-term in China, you start to appreciate the roots of Chinese cuisine. You see how many Chinese foods belong to the categories of pickled, barbecued, deep-fried, fermented, and the like.

A wonderful eye-opener to Chinese cuisine is the popular documentary “A Bite of China” *. It’s great to see people passionate about the preparation of food, but one thing the documentary does is explain all the wonderful things that Chinese civilization has created through fermentation. A brief list of fermented items include:

beef bitter melon black bean

  • anything with black bean sauce
  • anything with doubanjiang, a spicy, salty paste
  • soy sauce
  • stinky tofu
  • fermented bean curd
  • fermented bean paste
  • fermented fish
  • rice vinegar
  • Chinese pickles
  • thousand year-old eggs
  • rice wine
  • baijiu

This list and one encapsulating all of the Chinese foods that are pickled, roasted, deep-fried and smoked makes us worry if there’s any fun and delicious Chinese foods left that are safe to eat.

Based upon what the Academy suggests, we’d think that eating a nice salad may be the way to go, but uncooked foods are a rarity in China, a place where most everything gets cooked in a wok.

spring rolls

The Academy advises people to mainly concentrate their diets upon staple foods like rice, then focus upon fruits and vegetables with smaller portions of meat. However, what sounds like a good lifestyle choice is interrupting a patriotic stomach’s need for lamb skewers and deep-fried spring rolls.

We can only hope there is a mutual compromise available between a love for country and a love for food.



* The first season is much, much better than the second season, you’ve been warned.

Photo: just putzingtummy tales, Serious Eats, shinshin foods, Flickr

  • Amanda Roberts-Anderson

    Nothing pickled, fried, smoked, or BBQed? WTF are we supposed to eat?!!? We’re all screwed.

  • The master of none

    I take no advice from the locals regards health.
    Everyone i have known here are ill on a regular basis. Always a monthly visit for a drip feed of death.
    Me one visit to hospital in 9 years to pull a tooth.
    My Chinglish diet works for me.

  • Jagan

    Those who paranoid about what to eat will die even earlier than those who consume that listed foods in mediation. Mediation is the key, not complete avoidance.

  • Pingback: Newspaper Blows Lid Off Fake Lamb Skewer Industry In China | TheNanfang

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