Most likely due to popular Ready Meals and Takeaways, Asian cuisine seems to have developed a reputation for being greasy “cheat” meals that are extremely calorific and high in saturated fat. In actual fact, these dishes would probably be unrecognisable to residents of the countries they are supposed to originate from.
Red Rickshaw debunks this myth and explains why authentic Asian food is actually good for us.
Large Quantities of Fruit and Vegetables
When made properly, Asian food generally contains a huge variety of vegetables to provide us with the goodness we need. Chickpeas, for example, which are commonly used in Indian curries, are a great source of protein, zinc, folate and fibre. In China, furthermore, Bok Choy is the most popular choice, a good source of iron, calcium and Vitamins A and C. For dessert, there is a huge range of tender and delicious fruits to assist with digestive function and obtain essential minerals: mango, guavas, figs, persimmon, pineapple and pomegranates, to name a few.
The powerful flavours we associate with Asian cuisine aid us in ways that we might be unaware of. A number of herbs and spices used prominently in Indian and Thai cooking, for example, have a huge variety of health benefits. Garlic and chillies are also often used for taste, and research suggests they are good for the heart, metabolism and immune system. It is not just Asian food that will benefit the consumer, but drinks too. Green tea is a particularly popular drink in China and Japan and helps to repress hunger, aids digestion, and contains antioxidants.
Across Asia very little dairy is consumed. While those in China gain their calcium from sesame seeds, fermented soy curds and leafy vegetables instead, those in Thailand rely on coconut milk as their substitute. In Indian dishes, natural yoghurt is often used to make curry sauces instead of cream and, across the board, Asian dishes often use sesame and peanut oil rather than butter. Whatever methods they take to substitute dairy the result is much lower saturated fat.
Low Red Meat Intake
Another factor that keeps saturated fat intake down is the small amount of red meat eaten across Asia. In India, for example, meals are widely vegetarian, and the Chinese diet advises just two ounces twice a week. Lowering your red meat intake will subsequently lower your cholesterol and the risk of heart disease. Eating so little red meat, also calls for other proteins, and Japan, through its delicacies of sushi and sahimi, is one of many Asian countries known for its enormous fish consumption. As we all know, fish is far better for us, containing Vitamin D and nutrients crucial in development and protecting us against age-related deterioration.
Make Your Own
If you make your own Asian food then you’ll know exactly what the ingredients are, so you don’t have to worry about secret calories and lots of oil. Find everything you need for all your favourite dishes here at Red Rickshaw!