It’s hard to believe that nests made from bird saliva have become the king of Asia’s haute-cuisine, but it’s true.
Edible bird’s nests are a huge market in Asia and are becoming more popular in the United States, with diners around the world eager to cook a traditional bird’s nest soup.
What is it about bird’s nests made from swallow saliva that’s made it such a world-renowned delicacy?
To understand that, you’ll have to understand the background and health benefits of bird’s nests.
Bird’s Nest History: The Swallow’s Home
Southeastern Asia’s humid climates feature some pretty spectacular rock formations and caves ranging from the Philippines to Indonesia.
These rock formations and caves are favored spots of curious travelers and adventurers who want to push the limits on steep rock faces and sheer cave walls.
However, long before thrill seekers were exploring these spots, the rocks were home to a particular species of swallow called the “swiftlet”.
These small birds built their nests on the sides of limestone cliffs and cave walls. Most birds build their nests on flat surfaces; not so with the swiftlet.
Over time, the birds learned how to use their own saliva to create hardened fibers that stuck to rock walls. With this skill perfected, they were able to build their homes just about anywhere.
It’s hard to pinpoint the first time these nests were used for soup, but we do know that the rulers of old considered these swallow homes prized ingredients.
As the world became globalized, international foodies learned of the swallow’s saliva nests and were captivated.
A global industry sprung up and, as the decades went on, natural swallow nests became rarer. Knowing that wild-harvested bird’s nests were becoming rarer, entrepreneurs built swallow farms in urban areas.
The “farms” are actually multi-story concrete houses that attract swallows. They choose a spot within the cavernous building and build their homes with saliva.
The Health Benefits of Bird Saliva Nests
It’s pretty fascinating that these little birds can build secure nests using their saliva. However, engineering doesn’t make for good bird’s nest soup. Health benefits, on the other hand, do.
Traditional Chinese medicine proponents have long hailed the powerful effects of bird’s nest soup, claiming it can boost virility and promote cell growth.
As nests made from bird saliva have become a more popular ingredient for recipes, scientists have taken note. There are several studies that examine the makeup of bird saliva and why it might be a healthy ingredient in soup.
Researchers have found the following health components in bird’s nests:
- Water-soluble protein
- Amino acids that promote growth and body development
- Hormones include testosterone
The main nutrient in a saliva nest is a type of water-soluble protein that stimulates cell division and muscle repair, two key components to healing.
These proteins contain bioactive molecules that also boost the immune system, protecting the body against diseases.
A landmark study published in January 2016 tracked the ability of edible bird’s nests made from bird saliva to boost the immune system.
Researchers found that bird saliva and other components in a swallow’s nest “effectively accelerates the proliferation and the antibody secretion of the cells.”
In other words, bird saliva jump-starts your body’s ability to produce immune-system cells that fight disease and keep you healthy.
The study also showed that edible bird’s nests can help rebalance the body after undergoing a certain type of chemotherapy treatment. Eating edible bird’s nest made from bird saliva can also help patients combat the damage done to the intestinal system after chemotherapy.
The elderly and health conscious, along with pregnant women, can benefit from edible bird’s nests.
Finding the Right Bird’s Nests
Nests made from bird saliva are a very valuable food – so valuable, in fact, they’re called the “Caviar of the East”. As their popularity grows, so do the number of fake bird’s nests.
Counterfeit nests aren’t only unjust because consumers are paying hundreds – sometimes thousands – of dollars – for what they think are the real thing, but also because they’re missing out on the amazing health benefits that bird saliva brings.
Since fakes are made from animal fat, seaweed and other ingredients, they can’t boost your immune system or promote cell production like authentic nests made from bird saliva.
The edible bird’s nests we sell, however, are some of the best on the market today. Our nests are responsibly sourced and processed with the utmost care. Click here to view our wide selection of swallow’s nests.