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.
Try baking samosas with a little oil brushed over the pastry or use filo pastry instead of shortcrust pastry. Healthier starters are curried chick peas or chopped vegetables.
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.
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.
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.
Simple changes you can make are to gradually reducing salt in cooking, using lo-salt and most importantly limiting the intake of salty snacks and pickles.
5. Large Portions
Our bodies needs small, nutritious meals to fuel our metabolic processes. Having that ‘stuffed’ feeling at the end of a meal is generally an indicator that we have eaten too much.
Trying to eat slowly over a 20 minute period and chew food for better digestion. Try smaller meals throughout the day instead of large ones. By listening to our body will help regulate portions.