For our fourth class with OACC, we focused on the medicinal properties of ingredients, and the health benefits of certain dishes.

*The recipe for this dish is the same as a previous class we had where we made salmon Sinigang, but instead we used pork.  One of our students is allergic to seafood, which is why we made the substitution. The recipe for this dish allows for either pork, fish, or shrimp as protein options all with the same cooking technique. The main difference for this class was that the pork takes a longer time to stew in order to get the meat as tender as possible (the texture should be that the meat is almost falling off the bone).

No one knows the exact origin of this dish, but according to Inside Manila (2017) “some said that sinigang may have been derived from a Malaysian dish that even spells near of Sinigang. The tamarind soup dish is called ‘Singgang’ known in Terengganu, Malaysia which is rich in fishing villages that may have developed the dish into various ways–Ikan (fish,) Udang (shrimp,) Ayam (chicken,) and Daging (beef) Singgang.”

One the key highlights in the medicinal properties of the pork version of this soup is that it is cooked with the bones of the pork, and the calcium is extracted from the souring agent of the tamarind.  According to Grace Hwang Lynch in her 2017 article in NPR regarding recipes that help new moms recover from childbirth, “the vinegar probably leeches out the calcium from the bones. That’s what you need, the calcium. Women will have loss of bone mass from breastfeeding.”

This dish is not only a hearty and home-y soup often regarded as a quintessential Filipino comfort food, but can also help in boosting your immune system with Vitamin C from the tamarind base, treating constipation (since it is fiber rich), energy boosting from the protein, and packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents from the ginger.

In a study done by UCSF in 2012, they found that “Pacific Islanders, South Asians and Filipinos had the highest diabetes prevalence (18.3 percent, 15.9 percent, and 16.1 percent respectively) and incidence (19.9, 17.2, 14.7 cases per 1000-person years, respectively) among all racial/ethnic groups, including minorities traditionally considered high risk, such as African Americans, Latinos and Native Americans.”  Healing from diseases which impact our community involves going back to traditional diets and understanding the medicinal properties of our cuisines to combat these diseases. Sinigang is one of those dishes which helps fight diabetes.

Below are the list of medicinal properties of some of the main ingredients in this dish:


  • Tamarind:  an excellent source of vitamin B, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, thiamine, phosphorus, riboflavin, and fiber. Tamarind has been a long-time folk remedy with a long list of uses, including treatment of sore throats and sunstroke. It may also have antibiotic and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Ginger: Ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional/alternative medicine. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few. Gingerol is the main bioactive compound in ginger, responsible for much of its medicinal properties. It has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects (1). Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.
  • Tomatoes: great source of vitamin C (antioxidant), potassium (blood pressure control to prevent cardiovascular diseases), Vitamin K1 (blood coagulation and bone health) and Folate (B9) which is one of the B-vitamins, important for normal tissue growth and cell function (6). It is particularly important for pregnant women
  • Radish: high levels of potassium, Vitamin C and fiber. Detoxifies liver and stomach, controls damage to red blood cells and increases oxygen in blood supply.  A good source for anthocyanins which reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases. Source of  potassium, which can help lower your blood pressure.  Also good for skin health and hydration.
  • Taro: rich source of nutrients, which include potassium, calcium magnesium, phosphorus, folate and fiber.12 It contains good amounts of antioxidants, as well as vitamins C, B and E.13 Perhaps the most standout quality of this root crop is its high fiber content.  This ingredient helps reduce the risk of diabetes, bolsters your immunity, improves the function of vision, skin, and heart.
  • Kangkong or Water Spinach: reduces cholesterol, treatment of jaundice and liver problems, rich in iron (treatment of anaemia), rich in fiber (aids digestion and treats constipation), protection against heart disease and diabetes, high content of carotenoids, vitamin A and lutein (helps with eye health), green leafy vegetables helps boost body’s immune system


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