Thai cuisine has been well-known and become an international Superstar over the decades; although much of the popularity of Thai food comes from its amazing taste, along with its aesthetic pleasures, many aficionados are only now realizing another of its major virtues: its extraordinary health benefits.
Thai food is increasingly recognized as one of the world's healthiest cuisines, featuring lightly prepared dishes with lots of vegetables and often containing strong aromatic or spicy elements. It is very healthy in part because of the quick cooking time which allows the food to retain its natural, essential vitamins and minerals.
But its healthiness derives from much more than either its cooking methods or its relative lack of large quantities of meat. In short, the ingredients, herbs and spices, are fresh and contain large quantities of vitamins, minerals and other vital health-bestowing elements.
It would appear that, like many traditional cultures, Thais have weeded out the harmful and useless herbs, spices, roots over the centuries and built their superb cuisine with a robust foundation of what are now known as super food.
Some of the most common and popular ingredients are coriander, galangal, turmeric and basil; well-known antioxidants that have anti-inflammatory properties, boost the immune system, fight dangerous toxins and free radicals that can do harm to your body. Next time you're enjoying a hot and spicy bowl of Tom Yum Kung, you can take additional pleasure in the knowledge that your body is thanking you too.
Another tasty yet beneficial ingredient in many Thai dishes is lemongrass which is also known to relieve headaches and reduce stomach cramps. It's amazing that a delicious Thai salad or plate of Som Tum can be eaten instead of some expensive pharmaceutical that may or may not work. When you stop and think about it, it only makes sense that fresh, natural ingredients are going to be better for you than any artificial manufactured packaged pill.
As for your heart, the critical organ pumping away in your chest, it turns out that two more common ingredients used in many Thai dishes can help you maintain its steady, vital beat: coconut milk and chili peppers. Despite what you may have heard about coconut milk, it is now being learned that both coconut milk and coconut oil are much better for you than butter and most vegetable oils. They are being found to increase "good" cholesterol while lowering "bad" cholesterol.
As for those spicy chilies that lovers of authentic Thai food enjoy so, it is being shown that after eating these fiery little peppers, you'll not only fall asleep faster, but sleep longer and better. And we all know how much better we feel and perform after a good night's sleep. So don't hesitate to pile them on, according to your personal taste.
As if this weren't enough reason to continue enjoying this wonderful food, it turns out that the Thai method of cooking vegetables lightly with many dishes, often with Thai holy basil and other herbs and spices mentioned above, bestows excellent anti-aging benefits. The coconut milk has skin-enhancing fatty acids, the holy basil contains calming elements, and turmeric helps fight arthritis.
The active ingredient in turmeric - kha-min in Thai - is curcumin, and is an anti-inflammatory agent. Turmeric is a member of the ginger family and provides the yellow coloring for Thai food. It is an antioxidant and curcumin improves blood circulation and protects the platelets in your blood. Try some Thai chicken curry or the world-famous Massaman curry to get your turmeric fixed.
One of Thailand's most delicious dishes, Tom Kha Kai; a rich chicken soup in coconut milk, contains another herb very popular in Thai cooking: galangal or Kha in Thai. Galanga resembles ginger in its effects and is an aromatic stimulant, carminative and stomachic. It is used against nausea, flatulence, dyspepsia, rheumatism, catarrh and enteritis.
It seems that almost any common herb or spice used in Thai cooking has a multitude of health benefits in addition to being downright delicious. Other examples of common ingredients with medicinal properties include ginger, kaffir lime, garlic, sweet basil, coriander, shallots and onions, pandan leaves and lemongrass. In fact, it seems like you hardly go astray health-wise when ordering or making as they are mostly found in Thai popular dishes.
We have not even left the vegetable kingdom yet, to complement; chill the flavors and spices of these dishes with generous portions of wonderfully healthy tropical fruits are always literally at hand in Thailand: durian (the king of fruits), mangosteen (the queen), rambutan (the egg), banana (well, the banana), papaya, mango, jackfruit, pomelo, watermelon, pineapple, dragon fruit, longan, tamarind, guava, and many more.
Given all these healthy fruits, vegetables and Thai dishes, in addition to all the glorious sunshine beaming down, it's no wonder that Thai people look so healthy with their glowing skin, silky hair and dazzling teeth. Sadly, this state of natural health is far less common in countries where processed and microwaved foods, packaged and fast food with their long lists of chemicals and sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are in almost everything that many people eat.
It may seem unusual to many to come to a land where everything tastes so good and is actually good for you but Thai food is both. This is one pleasure you need not feel guilty about and you'll not only look better as a result of eating it but feel better which all lead to a long, healthy, happy life. After all, if you are new to Thai Food, let's try the least spicy one but the most beneficial nutrition to your health and you could stay away from particular symptoms!