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The Web Editor
updated Jan. 2007

Fighting Malnutrition with Accurate Data, Correct Information and Innovative Technologies



Charina A. Javier, RUMD.
FNRI-DOST S&T Media Service 2006

Who could not recognize the song Bahay Kubo? A classic Filipino nursery song with lyrics of which mention many different local vegetables (...Ang halaman doon ay sari-sari...). Filipinos use, mix and cook vegetables in different methods and call them in different terms. Want to start singing the song?

Filipinos like vegetables cooked most often through sauteing (gisa), boiling, or cook with coconut milk (ginataan). Across the country, there are similarities among the dishes served at home and in canteens or restaurants.

For example, dinengdeng, and law-uy, are two dishes of Ilocano and Visayan origin, respectively. These vegetable dishes, however, both include several leafy and fruit vegetables as ingredients, cooked by boiling and without the use of cooking oil. For dinengdeng, leafy vegetables (e.g. saluyot, ampalaya leaves, squash flower, stringbeans tops, malunggay, etc.) are mixed together. Grilled fish is commonly added and fish paste (bagoong) is used to taste the dish. As for law-uy, leafy and fruit vegetables (okra, eggplant, alugbati, kangkong, etc.) are mixed, and fish is also often added using salt to taste.

Ginisa is a much used method of cooking by Tagalogs in preparing vegetables. Fruit vegetables such as upo, sitaw, kalabasa, puso ng saging, sayote and carrots, among others are often sauteed. Vegetables are cooked in a small portion of oil with garlic and a small amount of meat, shrimp or small fish then seasoned with salt or fish sauce to taste.

Vegetables cooked with coconut milk are more commonly prepared by Bicolanos and Visayans. Famous examples of vegetables cooked in coconut milk are gabi for laing, and nangka. Ginataang nangka is sometimes called salad na nangka by Visayans.

Another common method of cooking vegetables is by adding scrambled egg (torta) such tortang talong and ampalaya fruit.

In general, Filipinos are not meeting the required intake of vegetables in their diet and shows a downward trend in the consumption, based on the latest National Nutrition Survey in 2003 of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute of the Department of Science and Technology (FNRI-DOST). Vegetable intake in the 2003 survey is 12.5 percent of the total food intake compared to 13.2 percent in 1993.

Vegetables are needed for proper regulation of body processes. They are rich sources of several vitamins and minerals. Green leafy vegetables like kangkong, camote tops, malunggay, gabi, ampalaya and others, are rich sources of beta-carotene, iron, vitamin B complex, vitamin C, calcium and other minerals. Yellow vegetables such as squash, carrots and tomatoes are also rich in beta-carotene. Vegetables are rich in dietary fiber, which prevent constipation by providing roughage for easier bowel movement. They are also rich sources of anti-oxidants to prevent certain diseases like cancer.

Three servings of vegetables, about one-half cup cooked per serving, are suggested for daily consumption. Two messages of the Nutritional Guidelines for Filipinos recommend eating a variety of food everyday and consume to vegetables, fruits and rootcrops. These messages can be realized if the vegetables in the song Bahay Kubo are eaten regularly. This is especially true for children, whom we teach the song. At least it would make them appreciate and become more familiar with the vegetables in the song. Now, try singing Bahay Kubo and think which vegetable you will eat in your next meal.

For more information on food and nutrition, you may write, call or visit: Dr. Mario V. Capanzana, FNRI Director, at the Food and Nutrition Research Institute, Department of Science and Technology, General Santos Avenue, Bicutan, Taguig City; Telephone/Fax Nos.: 837-2934, 837-3164; e-mail: mvc@fnri.dost.gov.ph or at mar_v_c@yahoo.com; FNRI-DOST website: http://www.fnri.dost.gov.ph

FNRI, DOST Compound, Gen. Santos Avenue
Bicutan, Taguig, Metro Manila, PHILIPPINES
Telefax: 837-2934;837-3164
E-mail: mvc@fnri.dost.gov.ph

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