Even being on the other side of the world from New York I still make time to read the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on my mobile devices. I had read on Tuesday the article in both the Times and a similar on in the Journal outlining the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet. It had been suspected for years but now there’s much more compelling supporting evidence. I had to smile a little since I had just been talking with my good friend in Hong Kong regarding the fact that the Chinese now are regarded as having more old people per capita than any other country including Japan. This became true after the earthquake off the coast of Japan last year and the ensuing tsunami which apparently wiped out a large number of elderly people on the islands near the epicenter of the quake. This allowed China to claim its newest crown.
There’s little doubt that Chinese cuisine can be unhealthy at times with all the oil and frying. However the Chinese also eat vegetables seemingly at every meal, less meat than westerners (both mostly due to expense and availability and that is changing rapidly) and fewer sweets and sugary sodas (also changing). While all that is going on here in Hong Kong and when I visit China the number of fat people per capita is dramatically lower than in the United States (bad example since the U.S. is among the world’s fattest countries). And yes that too is changing as the U.S. seems bent on exporting its fatness to the rest of the world and particularly to China.
I went to lunch today at a small Chinese restaurant in Central/Hong Kong that specialized in Beijing style dumplings. The food was inexpensive and really delicious. Ten steamed pork and pea shoot dumplings (the daily special) which cost about $7.50. It was more than enough food for me. But not for the legions of Chinese women also having lunch at the same time.
In Hong Kong as in China when you walk into a local restaurant as a single you will frequently be seated with other people. This was the case today and I watched with awe as many small Chinese women ordered not only the ten dumplings, but soup, noodles, and salad! These women eat with relish and enjoyment and yet stay so skinny that I just cannot understand it. I don’t get the feeling they are heading to the gym every day either.
So a diet full of vegetables, soup, salads and a little meat and fish seems to be every bit as healthy as the now highly recommended Mediterranean diet. Only the Chinese eat much more quantity. Let it be noted that the food in Hong Kong is world-famous for its variety and quality. Just in the past few days I’ve had Vietnamese, Himalayan, Japanese, Pizza and burgers and all were excellent. And I think I have lost couple of pounds along the way. And it’s not as if I have not had an adult beverage along the way. The key is staying clear as much as possible from the fried foods.
All this has me wondering if a ‘Chinese’ or Asian diet in general will one day have the same notoriety as the hallowed Mediterranean diet.