Incidence of heart disease, cancer, and obesity are much rarer in most Asian societies than in Western countries. (Cardiovascular death rates in Japan, for instance, are less than half those in the U.S.)
Asian diet pyramid revolves around daily consumption of rice, noodles, breads, millet, corn, and other whole grains, along with fruits, veggies, legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetable oils. Fish and shellfish (or dairy) are optional each day, and you can have eggs, poultry, and something sweet once a week. Red meat is allowed once a month. The pyramid also calls for six glasses of water or tea each day; sake, wine, and beer are OK in moderation. Remember to stay physically active, and you’re set.
Asian foods are low in total and saturated fats, but high in vitamins, fiber, antioxidants, and minerals. Health professionals worldwide believe that this combination is the reason Asians seem better protected from chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, and cancer than many Western countries.
- Regular Intake of Grain foods: Grains are moderate in calories, filling and satisfying. Grains—particularly the unrefined whole grains—are a good source of health-promoting dietary fiber. Grain foods are also highly nutritious. Wheat, for example, contains 22 different vitamins and minerals including vitamin E and B1, niacin, folate, iron, zinc, selenium, potassium and magnesium. Unrefined grain foods are also a good source of antioxidants and phytochemicals which help promote good health and prevent disease. Rice combinations like black, brown, red, or even purple rice used by asians are nutritionally denser than white or brown alone. (The best is unpolished/less processed rice, because it is rich in B vitamins.) Asian noodles are commonly made from wheat or rice flour (but other varieties are available made from buckwheat or bean starch) are incredibly versatile and can be boiled and served with sauces and toppings, simmered in soups and braises, or stir-fried with thinly sliced vegetables, seafoods, poultry and meats.
- 3:1 Ratio of Vegetables to Meat: All vegetables contain health-giving compounds, but researchers have identified a number of vegetables that are particularly beneficial. Not surprisingly all of these vegetables and fruits are eaten extensively throughout Asia, namely, garlic, tomatoes, berries, carrot, onion etc. The diet is largely plant-based, women hoping to lose weight can rely on these types of foods as they will not be stored as fat by the body if consumed in moderate excess. On the other hand, the meat and potato American diet does not leave much room for vegetables on the plate. Meat is suggested as only a monthly addition to the diet, at the top of the Asian diet pyramid.
- Idle for maintaining Healthy Weight: The adoption of an Asian Diet will not only allow you to attain and maintain your ideal weight and provide your body with excellent health benefits, but it will do so while pleasing your pallet and satisfying yourhunger.
- Healthy Snacking: Asians choose seaweed snacks, nuts, dried fruit and seeds. These healthy snacks are packed full of micro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals and the choices are limitless. Raw nuts should be preferred but might not be as tasty as salted. If you really want the salt, try “lightly salted” versions. Adding a handful of cashews or slivered almonds to an Asian-style stir-fry, braise or noodle dish makes a wonderful crunchy addition.
- More Good fats and less bad fat: Fat is required in order to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K which are essential for proper function of your eyes, immune system, and bones. But the important thing to remember is, not all fats are created equal. In fact, some fats can harm while other fats can heal. Unsaturated fats (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat), which are found in high amounts in plant and fish oils, have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol levels in the blood. Make olive, peanut and canola (rapeseed) oils your main cooking fats. These oils are all rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat.
- Limited Drinks, Especially Cold Drinks With Meals: Drink 6 glasses of water or tea everyday to assure good health. If you’re an adult, it’s OK to drink alcohol (sake, wine or beer), as long as your alcohol intake is moderate and with meals. Consumption should be avoided during pregnancy and whenever you put yourself and others at risk.
- Fish, an essential part: Research supports the common Asian diet practice of eating fish daily.
The Asian Diet Pyramid – General Guidelines
- Daily servings of: Rice, Noodles, Breads, Millet, Corn and other Whole Grains,
- Vegetables, Fruits, Legumes, Beans, Seeds and Nuts,
- Optional daily servings of: Fish and Shellfish or Dairy
- Weekly servings of: Eggs, Poultry, and Sweets
- Monthly servings of: Pork or Red meat
- Drinks: Drink 6 glasses of water or tea everyday to assure good health. If you’re an adult, it’s OK to drink alcohol (sake, wine or beer), as long as your alcohol intake is moderate and with meals. Consumption should be avoided during pregnancy and whenever you put yourself and others at risk.
- Exercise: Do some form of physical exercise everyday, like Qigong or Tai Chi!
At first glance, this diet plan would seem to be bland and boring but the preparation of these foods is complimented with spices, tubers, and roots; all having their own high vitamin, mineral, fiber and medicinal content. Exotic and delicious foods are common in all Asian countries and are often sought after by world class gourmets.