Archive for January, 2013

Healthy Thai Food

From all of the world cuisines, it is Thai food which provides consistency as a healthy and well balanced diet. Thai food is an amalgamation of various different elements from around the continents taking all the best and healthy options of other countries and leaving out the not so healthy elements. As well as a healthy, balanced overall diet, the individual ingredients used in Thai cooking are well known for their benefits and, in many cases, they are actually used in Southeast Asian medicine.

Turmeric, properties associated with turmeric include anti-flammatory and antioxidant elements. Both of these are great preventers for diseases and illnesses including cancer.

Lemongrass, a lovely, fragrant, lemony herb is used in Chinese medicine in the treatment of colds and flu-like bugs. It is also known to help maintain good digestion.

Galangal, a variant of ginger and, as such, shares many of its properties. Galangal is particularly renowned for its effectiveness in relieving digestive problems and gastric disorders. It is also reputed to assist in the reduction of pain and stiffness caused by arthritis.

Chillies, cayenne in particular, have recently come to the attention of western researchers. Indications are that chillies and their extracts may be beneficial in maintaining a healthy cardio-vascular system, and in supporting the body’s ability to produce insulin. Some researchers have also found positive impact on certain skin conditions, and on digestion. Another, quite unusual, benefit of chillies is that they are known to combat insomnia, so your delicious Thai meal will also help you to sleep soundly at night!

Coriander is probably the most well known ingredient used in Thai cuisine. Like every other herb used in Thai cuisine, coriander is very good for the digestion system and also helps to strengthen the immune system. Thai cuisine includes a range of seafood, fish, salads which are all great alternatives to red meat dishes. Thai cuisine offers meals which are well balanced for a healthy diet.

Coconut milk is believed to assist in the lowering of LDL, a form of cholesterol which is harmful at high levels. It also helps to raise levels of more desirable fatty substances that the body needs in order to function optimally. Like coriander, coconut milk is known for its immunity boosting properties. Some of its components are also known to inhibit some of the effects of aging.

Kaffir Lime Leaves have antioxidant properties like several of the ingredients we have mentioned already. Kaffir is said to purify the blood and assist digestion, while promoting dental and oral health. Kaffir is one of the main flavours used in Thai cuisine.

But there is more to the healthy eating aspect of the Thai diet than the individual properties of its ingredients: one should not underestimate the importance of the freshness of Thai herbs. Where many Asian cooking styles use a lot of dried spices and extracts, Thai cooking tends to make use of fresh herbs in their natural, whole state rather than extracts. Whole foods of any kind are now widely recognised, even in the west, as being the healthier option, and should be preferred over processed or powdered derivatives.

The popularity of salads, fish and seafood mean that there are plenty of alternatives to red meat. That said, body builders and macho traditionalists who don’t consider a meal to be a real meal unless it contains a decent helping of red meat would find that a Thai menu caters for them too.

As with all cuisines, there are some things best enjoyed in moderation. If one ate only dishes rich in coconut milk, for example, then one might reasonably expect to add a few inches to one’s waistline. Similarly, someone on a diet may decide to opt for plain or fragrant, rather than fried, rice dishes in order to keep the calories down, but the great thing about Thai cuisine is that meals are generally composed with all elements very well balanced, so it is most likely that a full meal would contain all these marvellous ingredients in just the right proportions.