You've only got to have a quick google to get a glimpse of just how popular Tom Yum Soup really is. Pages upon pages of recipes, restaurant reviews - you name it, there's "Tom Yum" everything. People can't get enough of the 'miracle soup', but why? We've spoken before on the blog about the history of the food of kings, but not so much about the ingredients and health benefits of Thailand's favourite dish.
Touted as one of the healthiest dishes in the world, Tom Yum (or Tom Yam) is loaded with healthful nutrients, surrounded in a rich aroma of spices, seafood and herbs, a true mainstay meal across much of Asia and Australia. Served either as a starter or a main course, you can expect to see Tom Yum Soup (also known as Tom Yum Goong) on the menu all day long throughout the regions, and is always a safe bet when staring at a long menu you don't quite understand.
It'll fill you up, that's for sure, and it'll give you enough protein and other nutrients to get you through just about anything, but commonly named 'the miracle soup', there's more than meets the eye (or the stomach for that matter) when it comes to Tom Yum Soup.
It's fair to say that nobody wants to be diagnosed with cancer. Nobody wakes up in the morning and thinks to themselves 'today I would like digestive problems', but the fact is that a lot of the population eat like that's exactly what they want. According to a recent study in Australia, it was found that only 1 in 5 adults ate their daily recommended intake of fruit and vegetables. This puts the other 4 out of 5 at a high risk of cancer, especially in the digestive tract. Many health experts have agreed upon the thinking that a balanced diet including plenty of fruit and veg is all that's needed to ward off digestive tract cancers.
When compared to southeastern Asia, cases of digestive tract cancer here in the West are noticeably increased, and this might have something to do with the star of the show, the miracle soup: Tom Yum. More than just a zesty, tangy broth, Tom Yum Soup contains multiple ingredients that are known to fight cancer.
Galangal is the first ingredient to the stage, incredibly similar to ginger, the spice is known for its incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The next is Lemongrass, containing superior anticancer components such as the citral. The citral component found in lemongrass causes apoptosis in cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. Simply put, it causes the cancer to commit suicide.
Chilli, the next key ingredient, is a great source of many health benefits with many anti-cancer properties. It is also is a great pain reliever and is key in preventing diabetes. Lastly, is the humble tomato. Tomatoes are packed full of vitamins A, C and E which are crucial in fighting off free radicals that lead onto causing cancer. Three separate universities in Asia have each presented research supporting the theory that, because of all these powerful ingredients, Tom Yum Soup has many properties that prevent cancerous tumours from forming.
Are we saying if you eat the hot and sour delight that is Tom Yum that you'll be cancer-free for life? Well, perhaps! The evidence does suggest many cancer-fighting properties, but at the end of the day, nobody really knows. The one thing we do know is that it certainly puts the Yum into eating healthy eating, and that's what it's all about - eat good stuff, and enjoy it.
For those who like to do a bit of their own cooking, Tom Yum is traditionally likened to the Spanish Paella, in that you throw anything and everything into the pot when it comes to additional ingredients, but for the sake of convenience and knowing you'll get a tasty, gourmet experience every time you can pick yourself up a Mr Lee's Warrior Fighting Shrimp noodle, ready at the boil of a kettle.