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In Japan, eating special soba noodles on New Year's Eve is a popular custom. This delectable dish is called "toshikoshi (literally "year-passing) soba" and it symbolizes, as the name indicates, the previous year's passing.
But having soba only for New Year's Eve is not nearly enough if you want to have a healthy happy body. Do you know that soba can help you keep those unwanted pounds off and that it's good for you, too? In this month's issue, I'll introduce you to the health benefits of soba. Let's enjoy this peek into the mysterious world of your new friend, the soba noodle!
Soba noodles are native Japanese noodles made of buckwheat flour. They are roughly as thick as spaghetti, and they are prepared in a variety of hot and cold dishes. The most basic soba dish is "zaru soba", in which boiled, cold soba noodles are served with a dipping sauce. Like pasta, soba noodles are available in dried form in supermarkets, but they taste best if freshly made by hand from flour and water. Recently soba making has also become a popular attraction. Last year the Asahikawa International Committee held a workshop for soba making with some volunteer translators in Etambetsu, a small rural area on the edge of Asahikawa.
Nutritionally buckwheat provides vitamins B1 and B2, several minerals, and nearly twice the amount of proteins found in rice. Rutin, a kind of bioflavonoid that includes the catechins of green tea and the polyphenols of red wine, is not found in other grains or beans, but is contained in great quantity in buckwheat. This bioflavonoid strengthens capillaries and so helps people suffering from arteriosclerosis and high blood pressure. Recent studies indicate that rutin is also a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals, which are responsible for many cancers.
Buckwheat also contains choline. Choline, a compound in the vitamin B complex that plays an important role in metabolism, lowers blood pressure, and decreases cholesterol.
The following is the summary of the major health benefits of buckwheat.
Lowers blood pressure
Reduces fat accumulation
Promotes healthy bowel movements
Fits a well-balanced and low-calorie diet
See? We have more and more reasons to eat soba in December as well as throughout the year. So keep your new friend soba by your SOBA! ...For those of you who are not up to date on my humour, "soba" also means "side" in Japanese...
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