Regional Diets

Just as cultures have been learning new medical practices from one another for centuries, cultures today can do the same when it comes to dietary habits. By picking and choosing the best aspects and ideas from each and disregarding the undesirable ones, a person can create a very healthy diet for themselves. Common characteristics to the Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, Mexican, Thai and Indian diets include the consumption of foods low in additives, little or no meat, large amounts of vegetables and grains, and foods low in saturated fats and cholesterol. Steaming food is the preferred method of preparation. 

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Chinese Diet

A healthy alternative to fast foods, Chinese foods offer a fast carry-out meal or an easily and quickly prepared home meal.

The Chinese rely heavily on vegetables and rice and use meat, fish and fowl as complements or side dishes. A typical Chinese meal contains one-fourth the amount of meat found in the western diet.

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When preparing a meal, use as little oil as possible. (Use chicken broth as a substitute for oil when stir-frying). If dining out, avoid spring or egg rolls which absorb a great deal of fat when cooking. Also avoid batter-covered meats and vegetables. Do not add additional soy sauce to your food as this is very high in sodium. Ask that your dishes be prepared without MSG (monosodium glutamate), a commonly used additive that can cause nausea, headaches, and dizziness in some people.

Features of the Chinese Diet:

Indian Diet

It is the unique blending of herbs and spices that gives Indian food its distinctive flavor. Since Hindus do not eat beef and Muslims pork, many dishes are based around alternative, low fat, high fiber forms of protein such as lentil beans, chickpeas, and kidney beans combined with rice or other grains. for those who do eat meat, lamb and chicken are used in a relatively small portion. Curry, a mixture of spices commonly used in Indian cooking on meats and vegetables, offers many health benefits. 

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Some Indian foods, like somasas, a vegetable filled pastry and poor, the puffy bread, are deep fried and should be avoided. Chicken Tandoor - skinless chicken in a yogurt sauce - is a good low fat meal. Stay away from ghee, a rich clarified butter which is used to dip bread in. 

Features of the Indian Diet:

Japanese Diet

Similar to the Chinese diet in its sparing use of meat, chicken and fish, the Japanese diet relies on vegetables and brown rice for its staples. But its heavy use of soy sauce may make it unsuitable for someone with a restricted sodium intake.

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Because of its high cost, fish is a consumed more as a condiment rather than a main dish. If you eat sashimi (raw fish) or sushi (fish wrapped in rice and seaweed), be aware that some raw fish contain parasites and bacteria. Eat only professionally prepared sushi and sashimi because chefs are trained to recognize these components and know how to properly prepare and store these products. Make sure the restaurant does a high volume of business and inspects fish thoroughly. 

Features of the Japanese Diet:

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Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean Diet may offer some protection against heart attacks, strokes and other forms of cardiovascular disease and certain forms of cancer because of the use of olive oil in the diet. Olive oil is said to raise HDLs, the "good" cholesterol and to lower LDLs, the "bad" cholesterol. 

Avoid pasta with cream or cheese sauces that are high in fats. Watch portion sizes and be careful not to overindulge substituting meats for cheeses as both are high in fat.

Features of the Mediterranean Diet:

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Mexican Diet

An actual Mexican diet relies heavily on a combination of legumes and grains to provide relatively inexpensive sources of protein. Rice and beans or tortillas made from cornmeal is the mainstay of this diet. Meat is used sparingly it at all. 

It is best to avoid refried beans as they are high in saturated fats. Be aware of the amount of cheese on tacos and tortillas. Avoid tortilla chips that are high in fat and sodium. Use salsa instead of guacamole as a condiment to add spice to Mexican dishes. 

Features of the Mexican Diet:

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Thai Diet

Similar to other Oriental cuisines, the Thai diet uses a variety of ingredients that produces a taste all its own. Thai eggplant, Kaffir lime, and Thai papaya are combined with bamboo shoots, miniature corn and straw mushrooms to create unique Thai dishes that are both healthy and delicious.

Be careful to avoid those dishes containing coconut milk which is relatively high in fat and calories. Eat steamed foods or those prepared in broth. 

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Features of the Thai Diet: 

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