Vietnamese Food & Nutrition

Vietnamese food, in general, is the collection of various elements

Vietnamese food, in general, is the collection of various elements. Both in a single dish or the whole meal, Vietnamese food is served with usually many substances mixed together, rarely one element. And this method creates healthy meals for consumers, since all the nutritious substances needed are provided with dishes. For example, the most popular food, “pho” is made from many elements, which offer all necessary nutrients for a regular meal: carbohydrate and calories from noodle, protein added by beef or chicken, fat from broth (well cooked with bones, pork and beef) and vitamins from onions, chili and herbs. That is the reason why “pho” is favored by many Vietnamese for breakfast. Just a simple bowl, but could generate enough energy for a whole morning.

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Another characteristic of Vietnamese food is less fat, more vegetables. The majority of the local, especially the elderly, do not like meat lover dishes like beef steak or ribs, too much protein and fat. Vietnamese prefer stuffs with many vegetable in it, like salad or soup. But, it does not mean that Vietnamese food has no meat-element. Mainly vegetable, but with some meat added, Vietnamese foods still offer enough nutrients, but are not too much calories like some Western dishes. For example, chicken salad contains cucumbers, lettuce, onion, chili, sesame, peanut, mint, garlic, lemon drop but still has sliced chicken and fish sauce. Likewise, vegetable soups are usually cooked with pork, meat balls, beef, crab or shrimp. This wise method creates a very unique taste for the food as well with a sensible rate of nutrition. More over, Vietnamese often boil, simmer or stir-fry the food, rarely deep fry or roast them. And all the deep fry stuffs (with much oil and fat) are served with many kinds of vegetable: sliced morning star, lettuce, basil, cilantro, bean sprout and etc in order to reduce the greasiness of the dishes.

Photo by @Thang Nguyen

In term of the whole meal, Vietnamese also focus on the fine combination of essential nutrients. The regular meal always has a staple food, usually rice (sometimes rice is replaced with noodle, vermicelli, gruel, bun or bread...) go with one or two main dishes (pork, fish, beef, crab, shrimp or egg). Another regular food is vegetable, which rarely misses from Vietnamese meal. Vegetable is usually boiled, stir-fried or cooked as soup. Whichever way it is served, vegetable is very important with Vietnamese, like a phrase “Meal without vegetable like disease without treatment” (Vietnamese: An khong rau nhu dau khong thuoc). The last thing in the meal is a bowl of soup (can be skipped if vegetable represents in soup already). The soup can be quite well-cooked, like sour soup (canh chua) or just simply vegetable boiled water to add vitamins and water needed for a day. Thus far, the meal can supply a fine proportion of nutrients for consumers, in which no element (carbohydrate, protein, fat, and vitamins) is absent. Nevertheless, the way Vietnamese people eat also guarantees a sensible nutrition rate for them. They rarely eat just a kind of food, like only meat or only vegetable. They always carefully mix the food together for their bowl, in order to balance the amount of nutrients. This forms a healthy eating habit for Vietnamese and varies their inherently special gastronomy.

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