Hi all! Today’s post might come across as misleading, but before you hit the back button, hear me out!
I wanted to take today’s post to talk about the various East Asian diets and how you can incorporate principles of these diets into your life for better health and wellbeing. Put simply, many Asian cultures have many foods, eating practices, and other lifestyle behaviors that support longevity, wellness, and overall good health. I have many clients asking about various Asian foods, recipes, and practices, wondering if they should work some of these foods into their diets.
The short answer is yes! Many traditional Asian foods are not only tasty—they offer numerous nutritional and health benefits. Mind you, this isn’t to say that there aren’t healthy foods in other diets. Turmeric is a very healthy spice in Southeast Asian cuisine, olive oil is a great monounsaturated fat that plays a role in Mediterranean diet, and quinoa is a staple of many South American cuisines. My point is, there are many healthy foods in many traditional diets you can eat to promote health. Here are some Asian staples worth exploring.
Photo Credit: Losing Weight Done
1. Sweet Potatoes & Yams
You might think that many Asian diets consist of lots of rice and other starchy carbohydrates. While that IS true to some extent, some overlooked carbohydrate sources in many Asian diets are sweet potatoes in yams.
It’s no secret that Okinawa, one of the highly reputable Blue Zones, consists of a diet with lots of yams and sweet potatoes. What’s a Blue Zone, you ask? According to Dan Buettner, Blue Zones are areas in the world where residents have a statistically significant longer life expectancy that other areas of the world. In other words, people in these regions live longer than most of the human population. And this increased life expectancy has inspired people like Buettner to learn more about these people’s diets and lifestyle.
Learning more about the Okinawan diet, we’ve learned that sweet potatoes and how they’re a huge nutritional powerhouse. I’ve written about this before, but sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, fiber, and tons of other antioxidants vital for good health. So eat up!
2. Kimchi (And Other Fermented Foods)
Some of you might turn your nose to stinky, fermented foods like kimchi, which is a staple in the Korean diet. But these foods are amazing for your gut! Let’s just say that kimchi gives yogurt a run for its money. It hosts a ton of probiotics, potentially even more than yogurt. If you want to get more probiotics/good bacteria in your diet and aren’t a fan of dairy products like yogurt or kefir, kimchi and other fermented vegetables are your new best friends!
It’s no accident that sushi just tastes oh so good. Many sushi recipes use nori, a type of seaweed, as a main ingredient in their rolls. Nori papers as well as fresh seaweed salads and dulse (read more about dulse here) are excellent seaweeds you should work into your diet. These plants are an excellent source of iodine, which can help support thyroid metabolism and health. Also, if you’re consuming sea salt products instead of iodine-infused table salts, it’s very easy to become iodine-deficient. Work in seaweed and other seaweed-like products into your diet on a regular basis to boost energy, boost metabolism, and reveal a healthy glow.
4. Fish (And Other Seafood)
Surely you’ve heard that fish is good for you. But did you ever wonder why? Many varieties of fish and seafood are rich in omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are vital to fat metabolism, brain health, and healthy skin, hair, and nails. Most traditional Asian diets don’t include many animal products, but they do like their fair share of fish and seafood, especially in countries like Japan. Get inspired by the traditional Japenese diet, and incorporate fish and seafood into your diet 1-3 times a week.
5. Oxtail Broth (And Other Bone Broths)
Like your fair share of pho? Then you should explore the wonderful world of bone broth! Traditionally, this Vietnamese soup is made with oxtail bone broth that is simmered all day long, but you can use other bones that are readily available to you.
Bone broth is a rich source of collagen and calcium, which is great if you’re not the biggest fan of dairy. And if you feel like this might be uncharted territory, check out this super simple bone broth recipe that can be made in your slow cooker!
6. Tea (All Varieties)
If you ever been to an Asian-inspired restaurant, you know that tea is a major part of the meal. Whether it’s oolong, green, jasmine, or herbal, Asian culture is known to place high importance on tea and herbal beverages. Each of these teas poses unique health benefits. Ginger tea, for instance, is known for its digestive aiding capabilities. Green tea is known for its high antioxidant content. The key takeaway here is to incorporate more teas and tea-based beverages into your diet. Depending on the type of tea you drink, you can potentially boost your metabolism, lose weight, and feel great.
Are you working any of these awesome foods into your diet? What are your favorite preparation methods? Comment below and let me know!