Healthy Thai Food
For this edition of The Pattaya Trader, focusing as it does on health and wellbeing it is interesting to look at some of the healthy foods to be found right here in Thailand. Most eaters of the country’s fiery food would agree that it merits being on just about any “top ten” or “world’s best” food list. However, what they probably aren’t aware of is the fact that the food of Siam also routinely turns up on the majority of the top ten lists designating the healthiest global cuisines. The reason for this is due to the many common and not so common ingredients used in Thai cooking. It’s the unique combination of Oriental and Occidental vegetables, herbs, spices and other ingredients that unaccompanied or collectively provides the human body with a remarkably wide range of healthy and beneficial nutrients. As long as processed foods, such as white sugar and MSG are avoided, Thai food, when properly prepared with high quality vegetable oil and all natural ingredients, is considered to be among the most nutritious cuisines the world has to offer. The following cross section of Thai staples, all of which are common to the Thai diet are perfect examples as to why just about any Thai dish or snack is better for your body than a greasy burger, sodium laced pizza or an oily serving of fish and chips.
Take for example the fiery chili pepper or the Prik Khi Nu as it is known in Thai. Most eaters are unaware that it is one of the healthiest foods on our planet. Dreaded by some and beloved by others, the intense heat that the chili pepper provides is one of Thai cuisines’ signature flavors. It also makes other foods safer as it kills harmful bacteria that may be present in other ingredients, such as chicken, with which it come into contact during the cooking process. Nutrient wise, chilies are low in calories and sodium, cholesterol free, rich in folic acid; potassium and vitamin E. Plus, ounce for ounce chili peppers contain more vitamin A than carrots and more Vitamin C than any type of citrus fruit. In terms of overall health medical studies show that consuming chili peppers over a prolonged period of time can alleviate the pain of arthritis, neuralgia, shingles, and headaches. Chili peppers have also been known to minimize the effects of herpes, relieve stomach pain, and lower the risk of colon and stomach cancer when compared to those who consume far fewer chilies.
Because of the many health benefits that Thailand’s favorite fruit possesses, the Ma Muang or mango has been aptly labeled a ‘super fruit’. Considered to be one of the most nutritionally rich fruits on the planet, besides tasting good, most masticators of the mango are unaware of the fruit’s generous amount of vitamin C, high fibre content, as well as its high potassium and low sodium levels, both of which help to regulate one’s heart rate and blood pressure. Its antioxidant compounds have also been found to protect against leukemia, colon, breast and prostate cancer. A regular diet of mangos is also said to lower unhealthy cholesterol levels, clear clogged pores, and clear up pimples.
The water within a green coconut, which goes by the name of Má Práao-òn in the Land of Smiles, is low in sodium and rich in natural sugars and amino acids. This naturally well-balanced fluid is thought to be one of nature’s most nutritious, healthy, and refreshing drinks. One green coconut contains between 200 and 1,000ml of clear water or juice that is sweet, sterile and full of vitamins, minerals, electrolytes and carbohydrates. When consumed right from the shell, the unique chemical makeup of coconut water promises to hydrate the body faster than any other liquid that can be imbibed. Coconut water is known to ease the ill-effects of a broad range of afflictions which range from dehydration to hangovers to kidney stones to cancer. If that’s not enough, coconut water is low in calories, cholesterol free, a good source of B-complex vitamins, and it has an extremely high mineral content. Plus, the water from one just coconut contains more potassium than four bananas. It has significant anti-ageing, anti-carcinogenic and blood thinning properties. It has numerous natural enzymes which speeds-up and assists the human body’s metabolism, and digestive process.