Mediterranean Diet VS Hansik

Have you heard of a saying that if you want to stay healthy, you should change to a Mediterranean diet?

The Mediterranean diet is synonymous with healthy eating in the Western world, originating from people’s diet in Mediterranean countries like Italy and Greece where people eat less milk products, meat, poultry and saturated fat but eat more vegetables, fruit, fish,olive oil, grains and nuts.

In February 2010, a Columbia University research team, in the US, found that the Mediterranean diet reduced the risk of stroke, dementia and heart disease. In addition, other research conducted by a medical journal discovered that people on a Mediterranean diet had a 30 % less chance of becoming depressed than those on an ordinary diet. It is not surprising that the Mediterranean diet is known as the king of all healthy diets because it is good for people’s mental and physical health.

However, do you know about Hansik, the Korean food, which is a healthy diet better than the Mediterranean diet?

The nature of Hansik is based on health. In Korea, there is a saying that the roots of ‘medicine’ and ‘food’ are the same so if you eat well, it will be like taking a good medicine. In the past, Koreans think first of people’s health when they prepare food. For example, if you look at the ingredients of major Korean dishes like Bibimbap, Japchae and Galbijjim, you will see that the ratio of animal and vegetable foods is 20 to 80, keeping in harmony. Historically, Koreans thought that food was the link between nature and man so they developed recipes which could bring out the natural flavor and taste of the ingredients when they prepare food. “Namul”, or wild vegetables, is a popular Korean dish prepared to bring out its natural flavor by
simply mixing or boiling the vegetables without damaging the nutrients of the original ingredients.

Korean food also reflects the profound philosophy of the ‘Yin-yang and the Five Elements’ refers to the philosophy that all things can be divided into yin and yang. In Hansik, vegetables with roots in the soil
are regarded as ‘yin’ while vegetables which bear fruits above soil, animals or fish are ‘yang’. Moreover, according to this philosophy, all things are composed of the Five Elements, metal, wood, water, fire
and earth. It means that 5 colors’ tastes and recipes must be considered when cooking.

For example, Bibimbap is the most popular food, Hansik, reflected well of Yin-yang and the Five
Elements. The ingredients of Bibimbap are rice, red pepper paste, wild vegetables, water parsley, bean sprouts and Korean-style raw beef. In this way, the yin-yang of the ingredients are in harmony with
the Obangsaek(5 colors), yellow (middle), blue (east), white (west), red (south) and black (north).

Today, many researchers at home and abroad are studying Hansik with ‘nature’, ‘health’ and ‘Oriental philosophy’ as its ingredients. ‘Health,’ an American health journal has designated Kimchi, the main Korean dish, as one of the Five Healthiest Foods in the world.

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