Can Thai Food Be Healthy?

Thai FoodThai food is easily my favorite Asian cuisine. And from the number of Thai restaurants that I see, I can tell I am not alone. Thai food has gained popularity in the United States because of its flavorful, aromatic dishes that are pleasing to the western palate. Most of the dishes that are produced in Thai cuisine are bursting with a variety of robust flavors, including spicy, salty, sour, sweet and bitter. It is hard not to love the complexity of Thai food. The question is: Is it healthy?

Is Thai food healthy?
Thai food, like most cuisines, can be healthy if you make smart choices. Similar to other Asian cuisines, Thai Food consists mainly of rice or noodles, vegetables and small amounts of meat. That combination can make for both a tasty and healthy meal. However, Thai cuisine is also known to have ingredients that are loaded with fat, such as coconut milk and peanuts. Plus, it can often be high in sodium. So, below are four suggestions to consider the next time you find yourself at a Thai restaurant and are looking to eat healthy.

  1. Limit or avoid curries: Coconut milk is a common ingredient used in curries and is loaded with saturated fat (4 grams per tablespoon). Since curry dishes have a lot of fat, if you choose one, make sure it contains, fish, vegetables or very lean meat to make it healthier.
  2. Choose clear broth soup: Stay away from coconut based soups. They are loaded with fat. Instead, choose a clear broth soup with shrimp. It will contain less calories and fat. Still, most Thai soups tend to be high in sodium, so keep your portions small.
  3. Limit peanut dipping sauce: When you order appetizers, such as satay or grilled meat skewers, use the peanut dipping sauce sparingly. It is high in both fat and calories.
  4. Avoid deep fried dishes: These dishes are higher in fat. Instead, choose dishes such as seafood stew, grilled meats or vegetables, stir fried chicken or papaya salad.

The bottom line:
You can have a healthy Thai meal at a restaurant as long as you choose wisely. Avoiding coconut based dishes and deep fried food will go a long way towards selecting a healthier meal that is still full of wonderful flavors. And be aware of your daily sodium intake. Since Thai food tends to be high in sodium, go light on sodium for the rest of the day that you go out to Thai food. By following those tips, you can eat healthier while still letting your taste buds go wild with the wonderful flavors of Thai Food.

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  1. I think most foods from the Far East are healthy because the combination of protein and carbs tends to hit the right balance. By this I mean the portion of rice/noodles is generally bigger than that given to meat. I agree with the article though, be careful with hidden extras such as coconut milk and nuts.

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