The typical North American diet consists of unhealthy amounts of sugar, saturated fat and trans fats. Processed foods, fast foods and other foods far removed from their natural state. In contrast, a typical Asian diet includes more foods in their natural state, and as a result, obesity and heart disease rates are lower in Asian countries.
Asian diets can vary slightly depending on which country you are in, but the basic features generally remain the same. An Asian diet avoids foods that are overly refined or processed, as well as typical junk foods found in a standard western diet. Green and black tea are consumed regularly instead of sugary sodas and a good portion of the diet is plant-based.
With an emphasis on plants, an Asian diet is naturally lower in calories than a western diet. It is also high in fiber, which adds bulk to a diet and will help fill you up faster. Saturated fat and sugar are two other fat building elements that are scarce in a typical Asian diet.
Regular food choices in an Asian diet include a lot of plain, steamed rice, vegetables and sea vegetables. An Asian diet also includes fermented foods such as tofu and miso, fresh fish, eggs and chicken. Red meat is eaten infrequently, reducing the amount of saturated fat in the diet.
The Asian diet eating pyramid as illustrated by Cornell University may look peculiar to many westerners. Meat is suggested as only a monthly addition to the diet, at the top of the pyramid. Next are sweets, eggs and poultry, which should be eaten weekly. In the optional daily section is fish, shellfish or dairy, followed by vegetable oils, which can be eaten daily. Next are fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and vegetables. At the bottom of the pyramid is rice, noodles, corn, millet and other grains.
Exercise is a large part of an Asian healthy lifestyle and culture. Walking, biking, stretching, medication and exercises, such as tai chi and martial arts are included, along with diet, to keep weight in check. Dieting as North Americans do is largely unnecessary, because the natural Asian diet and lifestyle do not induce obesity.