The surveys are in and they are overwhelming: Asian food is held to be one of the tastiest, most varied and popular cuisines in the world. And though most people know it is also one of the healthiest—Asians tend to live longer, have lower rates of cancer and heart disease, and enjoy much lower obesity rates than Americans—few understand just why an Eastern diet provides so many health benefits and how adopting an Asian diet can lead to greater longevity, greater vitality and improved overall health.

Americans enjoying delicious curries after sun-splashed days on Thai beaches, slurping up delicious phos on Vietnam tours or chowing down plate after plate of delicacies while trekking the Great Wall of China often return home wondering how they managed to eat so well (and so much) while both feeling great and having lost weight. The answer is the vegetable-heavy/meat-light, balanced Asian diet ranked one of the best, healthiest, and easiest to follow by U.S. News and World Reports.


Here are five reasons traditional Asian diets promote health, longevity and a slimmer waistline:



Unlike Americans, who consume many empty calories in refined flour, corn and corn products, easily-digestible rice accounts for up to 80 percent of the caloric intake of the typical Asian. Low-carb rice is typically eaten with every meal, filling the stomach with "the most hypo-allergenic, easily-assimilated and energetically neutral of the grains,” according to Jason Bussell of “The Asian Diet: Simple Secrets for Eating Right, Losing Weight, and Being Well."


Limited Meat

Asians tend to follow a 3 to 1 ratio of vegetables to meat, almost the inverse of the typical American hunk-of-meat-with-a-small-side-of-veggies regimen. Asians replace much of the protein element of their dishes with soy, typically in the form of tofu, which is low in carbohydrates and fat, while still providing hefty amounts of calcium and iron. Soy also replaces many dairy products for a large population of lactose-intolerant Asians, providing equivalent amounts of calcium and protein without the saturated fat and cholesterol.

Small Plates, Beautiful Presentation--and Chopsticks

Asian cuisine is focused on all of the senses, and, most particularly, a feast for the eyes. A few small, visually arresting dishes overwhelm the pleasure centers and help eaters narrow down which bites they truly want to take. Because Asian dishes often come out beautifully presented, but on small plates, dining becomes a more sensory experience, with appetite taking a back seat to visual, olfactory and other subconscious considerations. Diners don't notice that the portions are smaller. And because they are dining with chopsticks and eating more slowly--another subtle sensory delight--it is more difficult to overeat, putting the brain and stomach in better harmony at meal-time.


Lots of Soup

Every dieter knows that hydration and drinking plenty of water not only rejuvenates the body, but keeps it filled up and away from higher calorie temptations. Asians make this nutrient-dense dish, often prepared with vitamin and mineral-rich bones and vegetables, an integral part of most every meal. Not only does a first course of soup cut down on overall calories consumed at mealtime, it provides easily absorbed nutrients. And many Asians swear soup's warm temperature aids in the overall digestion of the meal to come.


A Focus on Digestion
Asians use a number of healing herbs and spices in their general cookery to promote healthy organ functioning and proper digestion. These herbs include coriander, mint and basil, which are known to aid liver function as well as help in properly and efficiently digesting and processing food. Asians are also avid tea drinkers throughout the day, particularly following meals. Green tea, black and oolong--all popular varieties in Asian culture-are known to contain strong antioxidants that help fight cancer, prevent cancer and promote general well-being.

Author's Bio: 

Jeremy Sutter loves writing about travel and health.