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UPDATED: May 27, 2009 NO. 22 JUN. 4, 2009
Dragons, Boats and Rice Dumplings
Ancient Dragon Boat Festival gets a new lease on life

Qu was a minister of the State of Chu, located in today's Hunan and Hubei provinces in central China. He was upright, loyal and highly esteemed for his wise and selfless suggestions for the peace and prosperity of the state. However, because of the slanders of treacherous court officials, Qu was dismissed from office and exiled to the border area. Realizing that the country was in the hands of evil and corrupt officials, Qu grabbed a large stone and leapt into the Miluo River in today's Hunan Province on the fifth day of the fifth month.

Nearby fishermen rushed over trying to save him, but they were unable to find his body. Some people threw rice and other food into the river, hoping to feed fish or other animals to prevent them from eating the body of Qu. Later, to mourn the death of Qu, local people would throw rice into rivers on the fifth day of the fifth month every year. Then, gradually, the rice thrown into the river developed into today's rice dumpling, and fishermen's salvation acts developed into boat races. Up to today, when the Dragon Boat Festival is coming, most places in south China that is rich in rivers will hold dragon boat races, creating a joyful and festive atmosphere.

Although many historical books and historians say that actually the festival was celebrated earlier than the time of Qu in some places of China, Chinese people would believe the account related with Qu was real, as they are deeply moved by his patriotic spirit and his truehearted poems written during his exile. Thus, the festival is also called the poet festival.

Rice Dumplings and Health

Besides its cultural connotation, rice dumplings are also favored as a kind of traditional food. In the past, the fillings were dates, beans or meat. Nowadays, rice dumpling producers have developed many new flavors to cater to different tastes and also ensure the balance of nutrition.

Those raw materials that contain high protein, such as beans, have been attached to increasing importance.

According to the Chinese medicine, the high protein content of various beans is of benefit to different parts of the body. It is said that red beans are good for the heart, soybeans are good for the spleen, mung beans are good for the liver, white beans are good for the lungs and black beans are good for kidneys. The protein content of beans reaches 35 to 40 percent, and they also contain rich calcium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B. The nutrition structure of beans is similar with that of meat. Thus, rice dumplings with bean fillings are one of the most popular.

The dumplings are also now made with cereals, which cater to the need of people to balance their diet. Apart from rice, they are also made of wheat and other grains.

The sticky rice, although delicious, can have negative effects if it is consumed in great quantities. It could result in indigestion and discomfort in the stomach. So people who have stomach diseases should not eat too many rice dumplings in order to prevent the reoccurrence of chronic illnesses. The elderly and children, whose digestive systems are weak, should also control the quantity of rice dumplings that they eat.

Doctors also say that rice dumplings are not suitable for snacks late at night, as they remain in the stomach for some time before digestion takes place.

Rice dumplings with meat fillings are favored by people in south China, but they are not suitable for those who have gall bladder diseases. This group would be better off eating date fillings.

The healthiest way to eat rice dumplings is to take ones that have been warmed up, and it is always a good idea to eat vegetables with them to help with digestion.

(Source: China Women's News)


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