How the diversity of Asian diets affects your heart health

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A new scientific statement from the American Heart Association highlights the importance of understanding the diverse diets within the Asian American population for heart health.

The report emphasizes the need to recognize and address the distinct risks of heart disease and diabetes in different Asian American subgroups to provide accurate healthcare.

Oversimplification of Asian Diets

The report cautions against oversimplifying Asian diets as a single entity, as they vary significantly across regions and cultures. The misconception arises from earlier studies that generalized findings from Japan to the whole of Asia.

However, as understanding has evolved, it is evident that there are major differences in culinary practices and dietary preferences within the wide geographical base of Asia.

Dietary Differences Across Asian Subgroups

The report categorizes dietary preferences into three regions: Southeast Asia, South Asia, and Northeast Asia. Each region has distinct culinary practices and preferences.

  • Southeast Asia: Diets in this region incorporate grilling, stir-frying, braising, and deep-frying. Common ingredients include coconut milk, fish sauce, shrimp paste, and meat broth.
  • South Asia: Vegetarian diets are common, but deep-frying is popular among meat-eaters. Rice is prevalent, as seen in dishes like dosa and vada, while flour-based naan and roti flatbreads are common.
  • Northeast Asia: Soy and soy-based proteins are popular, and white rice is a staple in every meal.

Dietary Weaknesses and Recommendations

While Asian diets generally have many healthy aspects, the report highlights specific weaknesses in each region.

For example, Southeast and South Asian diets lack fresh fruit and may contain unhealthy fats from cooking oils like coconut oil.

Southeast and Northeast Asian diets can have high sodium levels from condiments such as soy sauce, although regional favorites differ.

The report suggests region-specific dietary changes, such as adding more vegetables to stews in South Asian diets, seasoning with fresh herbs and spices to reduce sodium in Northeast Asian diets, and switching to low-fat coconut milk and healthier oils in Southeast Asian diets.

Additionally, replacing white rice with whole-grain products and brown rice is recommended across all regions.

Importance of Culturally Tailored Care

The report emphasizes the need for culturally tailored care and screenings to understand the dietary preferences and risks within the Asian American population accurately.

It is crucial for healthcare professionals to consider a person’s background and cultural practices when providing guidance on healthy eating.

Understanding the specific dietary preferences of Asian subgroups allows for better management and culturally appropriate support in adopting healthier eating habits.

Connecting with registered dietitians who have knowledge of diverse Asian diets and cultural practices can be valuable in providing personalized guidance.


Recognizing the diversity of Asian diets is essential for accurately assessing heart health risks and providing culturally appropriate care.

By understanding the differences in culinary practices and dietary preferences across Asian subgroups, healthcare professionals can better support Asian Americans in adopting healthier eating habits.

Further research and consideration of the diverse needs and backgrounds of Asian American individuals are necessary to address atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease within these populations.

If you care about heart health, please read studies that yogurt may help lower the death risks in heart disease, and coconut sugar could help reduce artery stiffness.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that Vitamin D deficiency can increase heart disease risk, and results showing vitamin B6 linked to lower death risk in heart disease.

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