The 10 is back! (The Ten #1) This time, we are moving away from the benefits of one item, and focusing more on ALL the items on the menu when you’re dining out. This week’s installment of The 10 is all about ethnic food and the top options for when you’re feeling frisky while dining out.
Ethnic food is one of my favorite things about living in a big city! There are countless options when it comes to exploring the delights of foreign countries and expanding your palette. However, like with all food, there are certainly healthier options as well as major pitfalls if you’re not careful. Fear no more! The 10 has the best choices for you in your ethnic culinary adventures straight from Daphne Miller, M.D., author of “The Jungle Effect: The Healthiest Diets from Around the World — Why They Work and How to Make Them Work for You” and Health.com
- Greek – Smash some plates and jump for joy because Greek food tops them all when it comes to health conscious customers. The original “mediterranean diet,” Greek food is rich in leafy greens, high fiber beans and lentils, and Omega-3 rich fish good for boosting your immune system and fighting off disease. ON top of being a nutritional powerhouse, Greek food is often eaten in small plates (or mezze) so you’re not overeating or eating too quickly.
- California Fresh – California is spoiled when it comes to fresh produce. That’s one of the main reason it ranks so high on the list. California fresh is inspired by eating fish, locally grown, and simply prepared food, a healthy nutritional habit we can all adopt. “Eating plenty of disease-fighting, naturally low-cal, nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables from a local farmers’ market or farm is good for your body, and it’s satisfying.” – Frances Largeman-Roth, R.D., Health magazine’s senior food and nutrition editor.
- Vietnamese – Surprised? You shouldn’t be! When was the last time you had Pho? Just look at all the fresh herbs and vegetables, with lean meats like seafood, and using hot water for broth instead of saturated oils. Many of the traditional Vietnamese herbs and spices (like cilantro and star anise) double as natural health remedies, making Vietnamese cuisine a double whammy for flavor and health.
- Japanese – Ever wonder why so many of the world’s 100+ year-old citizens call Japan home? Well, you don’t have to look any further than their diet. Antioxidant-rich foods like yams and green tea coupled with the Omega-3 rich seafoods and superfood veggies like bak-chou and shiitake mushrooms make Japanese food a great option for ethnic inspiration.
- Indian – This is where the saying “spice is nice” comes from. Indian food is packed full of spices like cumin, turmeric, and garam masala (a mixture of spices) which can help fight cancers and even help with Alzheimers. Turmeric, a main spice in curry, has been proved to work as an anti-inflammatory and possibly even healing properties. Just stay away from the deep fried section of samosas and bhajis.
- Italian – Now this one takes some self-restraint and selective choosing. It is the traditional Italian cuisine staples that make this ethnic food number six. Olive oil, tomatoes, basil, oregano, parsley, and garlic are all health superheroes. When these fresh ingredients are used to make basic recipes, our bodies reap the benefit. It’s important to remember to stay away from the heavy cream sauces and buttery garlic bread.
- Spanish – The main aspect of Spanish food that makes it a healthy option is the tapas style of eating. Small plates of nutrient rich foods make for a great meal that doesn’t break your calorific budget. Seafood, fresh vegetables, and olive oil make an appearance in a majority of Spanish dishes. So saddle up to some delicious gazpacho or paella for a healthy option Spanish style.
- Mexican – Now this one is more specific in regards to the dishes. The high fat, high calorie popularized options like nachos and stuffed burritos are not going to be a healthy choice. Sorry, I’m gutted as well! However, the simpler more traditional style dishes are fantastic for slow release carbs which can help slow blood sugar and even reverse Type 2 Diabetes. Black beans and fresh corn are the perfect way to get in those slow digesting healthy carbs.
- South American – The large range of South American countries mean an even bigger range of food options. However the dish that puts South America in the top ten has to go to Ceviche. If you haven’t tried this delicious fish delicacy, you are missing out. The combination of fresh fish, herbs, and chilies cooked in nothing but the juices of limes (and sometimes lemon) packs ceviche full of nutritional value while avoiding the high calorie and carbohydrate dishes of other regions of the world.
- Thai – Spices are back again and putting Thai food in the top ten. Chili, ginger, and other herbs are fantastic for your health. However, if you want a dish that will put in that extra effort then look no further than Tom Yung Gung. Made with shrimp, coriander, lemongrass, ginger, and other herbs and spices used in Thai cooking, the soup was found to possess properties 100 times more effective than other antioxidants in inhibiting cancerous-tumor growth. If that doesn’t stir your palette… who knows what will.
And that’s that! The 10 best choices when you decide to go ethnic. Eat and enjoy!