One of the things I used to look forward to my mother bringing when she traveled to the village was Black fungus. Of course, then I didn't know it as Black fungus, we just called it 'Okpalantungtung'. Its crisp gelatinous texture was the appeal then because I knew nothing of its health benefits. Many years later, I noticed that some Chinese people I knew ate Black fungus almost on a daily basis, this got me curious so I decided to find out what the health benefits were.
Black fungus goes by the names wood ear, mouse ear, cloud ear, tree ear and jelly mushroom. The little man in my life calls it ear meat. It grows on rotting wood. Let's see some of the health benefits I found out.
- It is high in dietary fiber.
- It has an anti-coagulant effect (like aspirin) on the blood.
- It improves circulation.
- It lowers cholesterol levels in our bodies.
- It is a good source of protein.
- It improves breathing.
- It helps clear blocked arteries.
- It helps relieve arthritis.
- Believed to have anti-viral and anti-tumor effects.
It is used in soups where I come from. It is added when the soup is almost ready as it loses it's firmness when overcooked. It does not interfere with the taste of the meal as it has no taste of it's own, it will absorb the flavour of what it is cooked in.
This is a good thing to incorporate in our meals as it has many health benefits.