Q. What is Edible Bird Nest?

A. Edible Bird Nest, produced by Swiftlets (Collocalia species) is a glutinous secretion, also known as “nest cement”. The glycoprotein matrix is used to bind together materials for nest building, or construct a whole nest with it. The nest cement is secreted from a pair of sublingual glands located beneath the tongue of the swiftlet. A Swiftlet Bird Nest is built primarily for laying eggs and housing the baby Swiftlets. After the eggs have been laid and hatched, the baby swiftlets will remain in the nest for at least 45 days until it is able to fly away independently. The Bird Nest becomes abandoned and will never be re-used. If not harvested, scavengers such as ants, lizards and cockroaches will consume the Bird Nest.

Q. How did Edible Bird’s Nest originate?

A. The Chinese have been consuming bird’s nest since more than 1,500 years ago. Bird’s nest was often used for trading in exchange for porcelain from the Tang Dynasty. During the Ming Dynasty (1368 A.D. to 1644 A.D.), the famous navigator, Admiral Zheng He, was sent by the emperor to develop trade routes to the southern sea. Amongst the rare and exotic products that he brought back was edible bird’s nest. Ever since then, a progressive familiarity of the bird’s nest evolved through time and more Chinese have had the chance to taste bird’s nest. Since ancient times, bird’s nest has been known as a precious health tonic with medical and health enhancing effects. Due to the complex and expansive procedures involved in procuring bird’s nest, its rarity and premium value have earned the title of “white gold”. It is also listed as one of the “eight delicacies” with other precious products such as sea cucumber, shark’s fin, fish maw, bear’s paw and deer tendon etc.

Q. What is the look, smell, feel, of pure Edible Bird Nest?

A. Pure Bird Nest has a translucent look and free from impurities under examination of the naked eye. All Bird Nest varies in shape and sizes so a uniformly shaped Bird Nest is likely to have been unnaturally altered during the cleaning process. Pure Bird Nest originally smells similar to the scent of egg white. Pure bird nest should be dried to avoid natural accumulation of sodium nitrite. (The sodium in bird nest, nitrogen in air and water will react to form nitrite). Pure Bird Nest is quite fragile and can be broken easily.

Q. Why are some Edible Bird Nests different in colour?

A. Bird Nest contains minerals like copper, iron, zinc, manganese, potassium and sodium. When these minerals are oxidized, they will result in a colour change to the Bird Nest. It is inadvisable to consume heavily-coloured Bird Nest.

Q. How do I store Edible Bird Nest?

A. Bird Nest can be stored in any container that is dry and preferably airtight. Bird Nest can be kept at room temperature or even in the refrigerator. YUPINZHEN Bird Nest is the driest Bird Nest on the market and our Bird Nest can be kept at room temperature for ten years or more.

Q. How often can I eat Edible Bird Nest? Can I eat too much Edible Bird Nest?

A. Bird Nest can be consumed daily. An average person can consume anything between 3g to 5g of dry Bird Nest. Any excess consumption will be discharged by the body.

Q. Who is unsuitable to eat Bird Nest? Who is suitable?

A. Bird Nest is suitable for all age groups but some small minority of people who are allergic to protein may find it unsuitable.

Q. How to prepare Edible Bird’s Nest?

A. Soak bird’s nest in warm water for 15 minutes, then change the water and soak for another 2 to 3 hours till the bird’s nest expands and softens. Double-boil the bird’s nest with the water over a medium fire for about 2 to 3 hours. For those with a sweet tooth, add rock sugar and the bird’s nest is ready to serve. For those with a more savoury palate, chicken or ham broth can be added but note that salt should only be added just before consumption as it will cause the bird’s nest to be disintergrated during boiling.

Q. What is the ideal time to consume Edible Bird’s Nests?

A. It is best to consume bird’s nest in the morning and at night before consuming other food. This will ensure that the nutrients are easily absorbed into the body. If on a diet, it is recommended that the bird’s nest be consumed in the morning before consuming other food. Adding honey to the bird’s nest for consumption at night before sleep also aids in the absorption of the nutrients. In addition, it can promote better sleep and improve complexion. The ideal way to consume bird’s nest is to take in small quantities at frequent, regular periods.

Q. What are the scientific benefits of consuming Edible Bird Nests?

A. Scientific documentations regarding health effects are very limited in published literature. It is not until recently that the biological effects of EBN are being investigated and evidence-based studies are being conducted. Several studies have found that EBN may enhance cell proliferation and differentiation and various beneficial effects have been reported in vitro as well as in vivo. While these studies point towards the potential use of EBN in the treatment or even prevention of several diseases, the mechanisms of action of EBN remain largely unknown and more explorations are needed. International scientists have separately reported preliminary findings on seven broad areas of health benefits:

1. Possibility in activating and proliferating human stem cells, thereby enhancing cellular renewal and ultimately whole body rejuvenation.

2. Possibility in protection against viral infections through binding of specific sialic acids

3. Possibility in promoting brain development and enhancing learning and memory through specific siaylated glycoproteins.

4. Possibility in strengthening of the lungs through thickening of the dermal layer lining the respiratory system.

5. Possibility in having would healing properties, especially eye wounds.

6. Possibility in the inhibition of expression of specific genetic elements involved in aging via down-regulation of specific bio-molecular pathways that lead to cellular deterioration and overall aging.

7. Possibility in the regulation of calcium in biochemical pathways, thereby improving bone strength and bone density, including protection against osteoarthritis and osteoporosis.

Q. What are the concerns when buying or consuming Edible Bird Nests? What is the solution?

1. Contamination by chemicals

A. Of particular concern is nitrite which is derived mainly from the faeces of the swiflets. Ingestion of excessive nitrites had been linked to cancer. This is the main reason why China had imposed a ban on the import of EBN in July 2011.

2. Contamination by germs

A. Viruses, bacteria and fungus could contaminate EBN in the wild or in the factory during processing. In Apr 2013, the bird flu virus H5N1 was reported to be present in dead swiftlets from certain bird nest’s farms.

3. Adulterated products

A. For business gains, adulteration of EBN commonly takes place. Adulterants used include pig skin, agar, red seaweed and karaya gum. In order to camouflage adulterants and waste matters, bleaches are often added.

Consumers should be advised to buy them from credible sources, the best of those which have safety and quality assurance seals/marks/stamps of transparent/traceable/accountable processing procedures and licensed manufacturing facilities.

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