Some people will write Chinese food off as fatty and full of MSG (Mono Sodium Glutamate). Saturated fats and excess salts are considered bad for the heart and so it follows that Chinese food is unhealthy, right?
Wrong Some Chinese dishes, corrupted to become popular to western palates, fit this bill. Authentic Chinese food is not fatty, and MSG, if used at all, is used sparingly. In fact Chinese food has a long history of being directed towards promoting health; a much longer one than any local ‘fad’ in the west.
Although united 2000 years ago, China never developed a state system for healthcare until recently. Citizens had to take their own measures when sick, and since these were often too expensive, that meant avoiding sickness in the first place if at all possible.
The first principles of food therapy were established nearly 4000 years ago, though it was only during the Tang Dynasty (608-906 AD) that this form of knowledge became really popular. Four ‘pillars’ were identified as crucial to staying healthy: lifestyle, diet, exercise and mind. Of these diet was considered the most important, probably as it was the one over which people had the most control.
Food plays a central role in Chinese culture. Cooking healthy food for the family is a lifelong profession for most women. Children are brought up with some knowledge of the health properties of their food and dietary restrictions are commonly understood and observed. Eating healthily is almost an obsession and forms an unspoken bond between family members.
Using modern terminology we can identify Grains as equivalent to carbohydrates, vegetables as roughage, fruits as vitamins and minerals and meats as protein.
A balance of 40:40:10:10 is considered ideal, with perhaps some variation in the balance between vegetables and meats.
Note that dairy products do not feature here. Most Chinese do not eat any dairy foods after childhood and, in fact, become intolerant to them as young adults.
It all comes down to what you choose
Bearing just this little bit of knowledge in mind it is possible to order better and more healthy Chinese food. By definition that will also be more authentic Chinese food.