The South Asian Eat Well Guide

01/07/2022

The South Asian Eatwell Guide

(Written by Mark Beattie – Registered Associate Nutritionist)

The South Asian Eatwell Guide is a new version of The Eatwell Guide. It is a circle split into five sections of different sizes. Each section contains one of the main food groups. The size of each section illustrates how much of that food group we should eat. The food groups are: fruit & vegetables, carbohydrates, proteins, dairy & alternatives, and fats & oils. In each group are pictures of common foods that people enjoy eating. The aim of the guide is to help the UK population eat in a more balanced and healthy way.

British South Asians are a minority group and make up around 5% of the UK population[i]. As such, The Eatwell Guide includes fewer foods eaten by this population. Yet, British South Asians have a higher risk of long-term health conditions partly because of unhealthy diets. For example, death from coronary heart disease is 40% higher in British South Asians than other ethnic groups. Also, British South Asians are up to four times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than White people[ii]. As well as unhealthy diets, other things may also affect poor long-term health in British South Asians. These are: genetics, low physical activity levels, poverty, smoking, and certain customs & beliefs[iii].

[i] https://www.ethnicity-facts-figures.service.gov.uk/uk-population-by-ethnicity/national-and-regional-populations/population-of-england-and-wales/latest 

[ii] https://www.nhsrho.org/publications/ethnic-health-inequalities-in-the-uk/ 

[iii] https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/medical/south-asian-background

Culture and language barriers can make it difficult for British South Asians to get effective advice to improve diet and health. Fareeha Jay (registered dietitian) made the South Asian Eatwell Guide to help tackle this problem.

Fareeha found out from her South Asian patients which foods they liked to eat. Shown below are each food group with the most popular South Asian foods added to them.

Fruit & Vegetables

Source: Fareeha Jay, 2021

Watermelon & Yellow melon:

Pomegranate/Guava/Mangos:

Dates:

  • Sweet and chewy fruits (often dried).
  • High in dietary fibre, antioxidants, various minerals.

Indian Squash/Bitter Gourd/Bottle Gourd:

  • Part of the cucumber family.
  • Good sources of dietary fibre, vitamins B & C (including folate), minerals (zinc, calcium & iron).

Okra:

  • Seed pods with high water content.
  • Good source of dietary fibre, vitamins C & K.

Mooli:

  • A radish variety.
  • Good source of antioxidants, vitamins B & C (including folate), minerals (calcium, magnesium, potassium & copper).

Carbohydrates

Source: Fareeha Jay, 2021

Sweet Potato:

  • Starchy root vegetable.
  • Good source of dietary fibre, vitamins A & C, potassium.

 Taro Root:

  • Starchy root vegetable.
  • Good source of dietary fibre, vitamins C & E, magnesium.

 Chapatti:

  • Flatbread made with wheat flour, salt, water.

 Thepla:

  • Soft flatbread made with wheat, millet/chickpea flour, spices.

 Idli & Dosa:

  • Steamed savoury cakes made with rice and lentil batter.

 Wholegrain Flours:

  • g., whole wheat flour.
  • Used to make chapatis or rotis.

 Poha:

  • Flattened rice dish cooked with onions, spices, herbs.

 Tapioca:

  • Starch from cassava root often used in desserts.

 Semolina:

  • Ground durum wheat flour often used in desserts.

Dairy & Dairy Alternatives

Source: Fareeha Jay, 2021

Paneer:

  • A soft cheese made with curdled animal milk.
  • Good source of protein and calcium.

Lassi:

  • A salty/sweet drink made with milk curds or yoghurt.
  • Good source of protein, calcium, potassium.

Protein

Source: Fareeha Jay, 2021

Soybeans, soya chunks, ground chickpeas:

  • Legumes (part of the pea family).
  • Good sources of protein, dietary fibre, B vitamins, minerals (iron, magnesium & zinc).

 Daal:

  • A thick spicy stew made with dried split pulses (lentils, peas, beans).
  • Good source of protein, dietary fibre, B vitamins, minerals (iron, magnesium, zinc & potassium).

High Fat, Salt & Sugar Foods

Source: Fareeha Jay, 2021

Mithai:

  • Flavoured sweets made with flour, milk, sugar, spices, nuts.

Samosa:

  • Fried or baked pastry with a savoury filling.

Halwa:

  • Traditional dessert often made with semolina, carrots, nuts, cardamom.

How To Use This Guide

Each section contains the most popular South Asian foods to show how to include them as part of a healthy lifestyle. The different sizes of each section show you how much of each food group you should eat to have a healthy, balanced diet. The guide is helpful for planning what to eat for each meal, or on a daily or weekly basis. Give it a try!

Top 5 Tips:

  1. Aim for 5 portions of fruit & veg a day to get good amounts of fibre, vitamins & minerals.
  2. Base meals on starchy carbohydrates like brown rice for fibre and long-lasting energy.
  3. Beans, pulses, oily fish, eggs and lean meat are healthier sources of protein.
  4. Eat some dairy or dairy alternatives for protein and calcium to build healthy bones.
  5. Unsaturated fats like rapeseed oil are healthier but only have small amounts.

 

Useful Links

Heart UK: South Asian Diets and Cholesterol

Healthy Eating and Diet Tips for South Asians

Click on the icons for healthy eating and lifestyle advice from registered dietitian Fareeha Jay:

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