When we think of Asian food, our minds likely conjure up images of our favourite Indian or Chinese dishes. Last year, Just Eat conducted a survey to find out the nation’s top takeaway dishes, and 6 out of the top 10 originated from Asian countries. But, the day-to-day Asian diet is much healthier than you may think. Compared to a Western diet, the daily eating routines in the East are said to ward off obesity and disease, but how? Here’s my top five ways Asian eating habits can make you healthier, just by making a few simple switches…
They eat less heavy carbs
If you think back to what you’ve had for dinner over the past week, many of the meals are may involve heavy carbs such as bread, potato or pasta. Typically, a Western diet is high in carbohydrates but in Asia, this isn’t the case. In China, Japan and Southeast Asia, rice is added to most meals – even breakfast!
Rice is one of the most hypoallergenic foods, meaning that it is safe to eat if you suffer from conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome or autoimmune disorders like Arthritis. Try introducing rice into your meals a few times a week, like in this chicken and rice noodle broth, and see if you notice the difference.
They eat more vegetables
Another way Asian people avoid loading up on carbs is by eating plenty of veg. Their dishes often include cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy, and broccoli, which are also associated with a reduced risk of various diseases. Usually stir-fried to keep their goodness and crunch, this sort of fast food really is healthy. They also eat less sugary desserts and favour fruit such as coconut, banana and mango instead.
They turn up the heat
Adding fresh chillies to dishes not only boosts your metabolism but also speeds up they way your body digests food. Chillies also add tonnes of flavour, and don’t always have to bring hot, hot heat.
If you don’t like really spicy food, but want to reap the benefits of eating chillies in your diet, then when you prepare them always remove the seeds and all of the white membrane (where most of the heat is stored!) before cooking.
They eat less dairy
Around 60% of the world’s population struggle to digest lactose from cow’s milk and in East Asia, it is thought that the figure is more like 90%. In recent years, there’s been changes in our supermarkets to cater for people with lactose intolerance and swapping the dairy for a substitute could have lots of proven benefits.
Soy milk is perfect for vegans and contains all of the protein of cow’s milk. One of the main benefits of soy milk is that it’s free of cholesterol and low in saturated fats which can cause strokes and heart disease. Almond milk is a delicious alternative in coffee and with porridge oats too.
Cheese is also much widely less consumed in Asia. Don’t get me wrong, I love cheese. But having spent six months in Southeast Asia where it’s just not readily available, I hardly ate any of it. This made me realise I can in fact survive without it, despite initial doubts, and to really appreciate it now I’m home, rather than scoff it constantly like I used to!
They drink more tea
A nice cup of tea is a morning routine staple for most British people. It’s thought that in the UK, we drink a whopping 60 billion cups a year! This averages out at 165 million brews everyday. In Southeast Asia, tea is also a big part of the diet, but not the milky, sugary cuppas that we’re used to.
Vietnamese people enjoy a cup of green tea with most meals, as do the Japanese, but what are the benefits? Studies show that people who drink a pint of green tea each day are cutting down their risk of early death from heart disease by up to 31%. Green tea is also ram-packed with antioxidants which can improve brain function, aid fat loss, and lower your risk of cancer. Well worth putting the kettle on!