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Top 10 Risks of the South Asian Diet

Published on: Wednesday, 7th July 2010 11:36 AM     By      Veena



South Asians have a much higher risk of chronic disease. The risk of getting type 2 Diabetes is a staggering 6 times higher than the general population and we are twice as likely to die from heart disease.

Whilst it’s impossible to alter our genetic make up we can improve our lifestyle habits.

There is enormous diversity in cultures, traditions and habits amongst Asian communities in the UK but there are certain dietary practices that persevere despite the detrimental effect they have on our health.

Here are 10 dietary practices that need urgent reform for a healthier you.

1. Fried Food 

Fried foods feature in many religious celebrations and family gatherings. Occasional consumption of foods such as samosas, pakoras, puris or bhaturas is fine so long as these occasions aren’t every week! Fried foods are calorific and contribute to weight gain. Re-using oil will change its molecular structure likening it to trans fats which have been linked to heart disease.

2. Butter/Ghee

Curries are traditionally cooked in butter or ghee, both of which are saturated fats. Saturated fats are originate from animal products and result in raised cholesterol levels and furred arteries.

Replacing butter and ghee with small amounts of polyunsaturated fats such as sunflower or corn oil or monounsaturated fats such as olive or rapeseed oil would be heart protective.

3. Sugar

Traditional Asian sweetmeats or ‘mithai’ such as jalebi, ladoo, gulab jamun and burfi have alarmingly high levels of fat and sugar whilst offering little nutrition. Traditional sweets are made using sugar, ghee, full cream milk powder, sweet condensed milk and coconut.

Reducing our consumption of sweet snacks and swapping them for more nutritious snacks such as fruit or low fat yoghurts would help save our teeth and waistline.

4. Salt

Too much salt in the diet can lead to high blood pressure and increased risk of stroke. Try to limit limit salt intake to less than 6grams a day, which is about a level teaspoon.

5. Dairy Foods

The belief that full fat dairy products are more nutritious and calcium rich still persists. Lower fat milks actually have slightly more calcium than the full fat alternative. The fat contained in dairy is largely saturated fat.

Choosing lower fat milk and yoghurt whilst limiting paneer (cheese) consumption will reduce overall saturated fat intake.

6. Unbalanced Meals

7. Snacks

8. High Calorie Drinks

9. Large Portions

10. Alcohol

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