If you have cardiology problems but love Asian food, you may feel that you have a bit of a conundrum. Asian food is known for being loaded with both sodium and fat, two ingredients that can contribute to high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and heart attack. However, if you make a few simple changes to how you cook, you can continue to enjoy delicious Asian food without the naughty ingredients. Here are some helpful cooking tips.
Instead of cooking with regular chicken or beef stock, purchase low-sodium stock from the store or make your own. Your leading brand of chicken broth at the store has nearly 900mg of sodium; homemade broth has around 25mg. That's a huge difference!
To make your own broth, bring to boil a whole chicken and your favorite aromatics such as onion, leeks, shallots, garlic, carrots, and celery. Season with parsley and bay leaves. Allow to simmer for three hours, skimming the top after 15 minutes. Remove the chicken and strain the broth. You can freeze it in small portions for cooking.
For vegetable broth, eliminate the chicken and add a few more vegetables, roasting them in a 400-degree oven for 40 minutes before simmering.
One way to reduce cholesterol and avoid heart disease is to pack your diet with whole grains. By switching from white rice to brown rice, you are boosting your whole grain intake and eating your way to a healthier heart. You can enjoy all of your favorite Asian dishes with steamed brown rice instead of white or fried rice. Just remember that brown rice takes significantly longer to cook, so allow yourself extra time when you prepare meals.
One of the biggest heart dangers when it comes to Asian food is fried dishes. Many of your favorite Asian meals probably include something deep-fried in oil. To make your cardiologist happy, you'll obviously want to avoid fried dishes (wantons, tempura, fried meats, etc.) and make a few changes:
- Use a quality non-stick pan for stir-frying and skip the oil (you can substitute vegetable stock)
- When possible, avoid using meat in your stir-fry and switch to fish, turkey, or vegetables
- Instead of fried wontons, enjoy steamed dumplings
- Try boiling or broiling your favorite fried dishes
Skip the Sauce
One of the biggest culprits for sodium in Asian dishes is sauce. In fact, soy sauce (America's favorite Asian food condiment) has a whopping 900mg of sodium! You'll find sodium lurking in many other Asian sauces, including teriyaki sauce, lobster sauce, oyster sauce, and bean sauce.
For healthier Asian cooking, switch to a low-sodium soy sauce. Better yet, use tamari instead--it is also made from soy beans, but with much less salt. Sriracha and hoisin sauces are also healthier options to substitute in your favorite dishes.
If you can't live without teriyaki sauce, consider making your own using low-sodium soy sauce or tamari. Your homemade version will have a lot less sodium than the bottled stuff at the grocery store.
Finally, consider cooking without sauce altogether. You can season your dishes with salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, onions, shallots, chilis, and lime. They'll be packed with flavor, but you won't have to worry about all the extra sodium.
You don't have to avoid your favorite Asian dishes if you're on a heart-healthy diet--in fact, you can indulge even more if you make a few changes to your cooking. By cooking with low-sodium broth and brown rice and skipping the fat and sauce, you'll have a healthy, delicious Asian meal that will keep your heart (and your cardiologist) happy. Don't wait any longer--get to your kitchen and try these tips today.