The traditional Asian diet receives a lot of attention because many chronic diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, are not as common in Asia as in the United States and other western nations.
If consumed in adequate amounts, the traditional Asian diet contains all of the essential nutrients needed by most adults. The Asian diet is high in fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, but low in saturated and total fat.
Although the Asian diet is relatively low in meat and dairy food, it still contains sufficient amounts of protein and iron, which are mainly obtained from nuts, seeds, and legumes. Iron is also provided through certain vegetables, such as dark leafy greens. Calcium is obtained from soy products, nuts, seeds, and green leafy vegetables.
Major Components in the Asian Daily Diet:
- Grains and Breads: Of the foods consumed on a daily basis, rice, rice products, noodles, breads, millet, corn, and other grains are consumed in the greatest amount. Potatoes and cereals are included in this food group.
- Vegetables: Fresh vegetables are also consumed in large quantities in the traditional Asian diet. Cabbage, bok choy, scallions, dark leafy vegetables, and bean sprouts are just a few of the many different kinds of vegetables used.
- Fruit: Fruit is another food that is enjoyed on a daily basis, with as much variety as possible. Bananas, mangoes, tangerines, watermelon, grapes, and pineapple are examples of the many fruits used for desserts as well as in main courses.
- Soybean Products: Whole-food soy products – edamame, tempeh, tofu, and natto – are very common in the daily menu of the Asian family. Soybean products contain phytoestrogens called isoflavones, which have been highly studied to determine their health benefits. The estrogenic and antioxidant properties of isoflavones may explain the link to cholesterol reduction, bone health, and prevention against heart disease and certain types of cancer.
- Nuts: Nuts are an important source of protein in the traditional Asian diet. They are also good sources of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Nuts and seeds are often used in soups, salads, noodle dishes, and main courses.