EAST ASIAN EATS
This month’s soup recipe puts flavorful foods from East Asia front and center. Here, other traditional staples to try that are both delicious and good for you.
“Sea vegetables are sustainable and packed with nutrients,” says Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D., a California-based culinary dietitian.They contain protein and antioxidants as well as iodine, which supports thyroid function, and iron, critical for healthy oxygenated blood. “Use seaweed to make sushi or a seaweed salad, or try nori furikake [a seaweed seasoning] in rice dishes or sprinkled on avocado toast and popcorn,” Chou adds.
“It’s a staple in Asian cultures, and white rice can absolutely be part of a healthy diet despite the fact that it’s been demonized by diet culture,” says Laura Iu, a registered dietitian in New York City. Yes, it has less fiber than whole grains like brown rice, but this can make it easier for people with digestive conditions like irritable bowel syndrome to digest. And it’s often fortified with folate and magnesium, two energy helpers. If you have prediabetes or diabetes, eat it with protein and fat to ease blood sugar spikes.
Your favorite Japanese soup has a gut-friendly ingredient. “Miso is made by fermenting soybeans, so it contains probiotics,” says Iu. It’s also rich in B vitamins and choline (both good for cognitive function) and vitamin K, which helps blood clot.Think beyond soup: Miso is great in a marinade for meat or fish or whisked into a dressing.
Best used as a flavor enhancer, not as cooking oil, it’s filled with hearthealthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, antioxidants that help fight damaging free radicals, and the amino acid tyrosine, which boosts levels of mood-lifting serotonin.
This Japanese radish can be cooked or pickled. It has a high water content and is a good source of fiber and vitamin C.