Thai food is known for being delicious, but did you that authentic Thai dishes can also be super healthy? This cuisine contains a number of ‘super foods’ and spices that work together to give your immune system a boost, fight inflammation, speed up your metabolism, and help to create a healthier you!
In fact, one Thai soup called Tom Yam Goong has even been studied for its unique high antioxidant content and potential cancer-fighting abilities.
Here are 7 of the healthiest, most beneficial ingredients found in Thai food, and how to make sure they’re included in your dishes.
Note: With the following ingredients, and the dishes that they are served in, make you sure you choose those made with real, whole food ingredients of a high quality – preferably organic.
Turmeric’s active compound is called curcumin, which as we’ve written about before, has potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers. Studies have suggested that it may be able to help with digestion, reduce arthritis pain and inflammation, improve heart conditions, and even fight certain cancers.
Turmeric is a very common ingredient in Thai food, but to be sure you get it, choose cooked foods with its signature yellow tinge. These include yellow curry and cooked meat dishes like marinated fish and peanut satay.
Although many of us in the west may not be familiar with this rhizome, this cousin of ginger has similar health benefits and has been used in Asian cooking and medicine for centuries. Studies have revealed that this herb may be able to aid in digestion, alleviate stomach and intestinal pain, fight inflammation, and improve circulation.
This ingredient is found in many Thai soups and curries, including Tom Yum and Tom Kha soups.
Thai cuisine is rich in chilis—some even say this cuisine is the spiciest in the world. Although you probably don’t want to eat your food as spicy as they serve it in Thailand (though maybe you do!), don’t forgo the chili entirely, as some studies suggest that eating chilies can provide a number of health benefits.
On top of being highly anti-inflammatory, spicy chili peppers are thought to possess antibacterial and infection-fighting abilities. Plus, some research suggests that capsaicin, a compound of hot red chilies, may boost the body’s metabolism and aid fat burning.
Fortunately for you, just about all Thai dishes can be ordered or prepared as spicy as you like!
This super-herb with a fresh, lemony taste and fragrance has powerful antioxidant properties that may help to protect your cells from free radicals and reduce pain and inflammation. On top of that, at least one study suggests that compounds in the herb may even help to slow the growth of cancer.
Lemongrass can be found in Thai marinades, soups such as Tom Yam and Tom Kha, stir fries, and often, in fresh Thai salads as well.
Garlic, as we’ve covered before, is a recognized superfood that can support your health in a ton of ways. Its reported benefits include supporting the immune system, fighting bacteria, viruses, and fungi, and supporting heart health by lowering blood pressure.
One advantage of getting your garlic through Thai food is that it is often served raw—which makes the herb’s medicinal properties even more powerful. Garlic can be found in Thai dishes including soups, stir-fries, curries, and raw in some salads.
In addition to providing Thai food’s characteristic ‘zing,’ limes are also super healthy. Highly anti-inflammatory, they have also been shown to have powerful antibiotic effects. They are also an excellent source of Vitamin C—crucial for a strong immune system.
In Thai cuisine, lime juice is often added to marinades, salad dressings, and soups, or lime wedges may be served on the side for you to squeeze over any dish before digging in. Be sure you do!
7. Coconut milk
Coconut milk is one of the most delicious, nutritious, and nourishing ingredients in Thai food. Benefits of coconut milk are similar to those of coconut oil, and include lowering bad cholesterol and promoting good, giving the immune system a boost, aiding weight loss, and supporting skin and hair health.
To get more coconut milk, dig into Thai curries and soups, especially Tom Kha soup.
Unfortunately, just because authentic Thai food contains all of these amazing ingredients, doesn’t mean all Thai dishes you order at a restaurant will be healthy. Some restaurants add a lot of sugar to soups, curries, and fried noodle dishes like Pad Thai.
If you’re eating out, make sure you speak to your server about added sugar, or you can always try making your own delicious Thai dishes at home!
-The Alternative Daily