Traditional Chinese fare is a far cry from the fatty fried foods that western culture embraces as authentic fare. In fact, the Chinese diet is rich in plants, high in fiber, and low in fat, which can reduce the risk of a number of life-threatening conditions and health issues. Deep-fried egg rolls and fried chicken skewers are not authentic dishes and are merely food trends with no real cultural history or culinary relevance.
A recent infographic by the Sichaun favorite, Z & Y Restaurant, shows many of the reasons why an authentic Chinese diet is extremely healthy in reality.
Rice and grains are an integral part of the native Chinese diet, plus they are an excellent source of fat-free protein. Brown rice contains more protein and fiber than white rice, therefore it is used as a staple in traditional kitchens. Protein provides feelings of fullness and satisfaction, which can help in controlling weight and preventing hunger.
Traditional Chinese fare embrace a wide-range of spices to give healthy dishes lots of flavor. For instance, the bold flavors of Shanghai cuisine and the tempered heat of Szechuan fare come from combinations of garlic, ginger, and chilies. Garlic is touted as preventing certain types of cancer, ginger can help with digestive health, and chili peppers can help to speed-up your metabolism and aid in weight loss.
The Chinese culture traditionally has a healthy diet, full of vegetables and leafy greens. The general guideline is that half of your plate should contain vegetables- steamed, blanched, or raw- and it is not uncommon for the entire meal to consist of grains and veggies. Regional fare such as Shandong cuisine highlights fresh ingredients, such as veggies, and Fujian soups often utilize a variety of veggies in a flavorful broth.
Whole-grains and fresh produce contain dietary fiber, which contributes to overall health and well-being. Fiber helps maintain regularity, while also providing feelings of satisfaction which can curb overeating. Fiber is also lauded for helping to prevent colorectal cancer. It is estimated that for every 10-grams of fiber that you consume daily, your risk of colorectal cancer is decreased by 10%; this could mean that a traditional Chinese diet can be an effective way to reduce your chances of contracting cancer.
Lean meat, such as poultry and pork, is only consumed in moderation in traditional Chinese homes. Red meat, including beef, is served even less frequently; Chinese culture and medicine only recommend two-ounces of lean red meat twice weekly for a healthy diet. Shanghai cuisine often utilizes salted meats and alcohol or spirits to create rich, flavorful dishes that are eaten at celebrations or special occasions.
A traditional Chinese diet skips the dairy, and only fry’s foods occasionally, such as when preparing a Beijing meal or menu for a special affair. The high-fiber and protein of Chinese staples- brown rice, leafy greens, fresh produce- create a plant-based foundation that can be an effective strategy toward reducing the risk of certain health conditions and cancers.