Is Thai food healthy or unhealthy?

In this article, we will discuss whether Thai food is healthy or unhealthy. We will show you a list of Thai dishes with the most calories and with the least calories. 

Is Thai food healthy or unhealthy?

Thai food is healthy because it uses the right ingredients; however, the added sugar, salt, saturated fatty acids, and glutamate make it seem unhealthy in the long run. While it is true that many dishes are low in calories, much of the Kingdom’s specialties tend to promote overweight.

It is often said that eating Thai does not make you fat any more than a European diet rich in gluten and that it is one of the healthiest there is. But is it?

Thai cuisine and calories

The dilemma is more profound than it seems: when you enter a mini-market in Thailand, you realize that it is challenging to find fresh products. From now on, many foods that would have been traditionally sugar-free in the past are enriched with added sugar (yogurt, fruit juice, bread, sandwiches, dehydrated soups, etc.). 

Obviously, this often gives a better taste, but over time it also promotes being overweight. With time and the consumer society, Thai culinary habits have changed, coming closer and closer to Western standards (and not always for the better).

Besides, most foods are fried several times in inexpensive vegetable oils (the famous palm oil). This oil is rich in saturated fatty acids, promoting the onset of cardiovascular disease in high doses. But which would also lead to weight gain!

Many Thai dishes are made with “freshly farmed” ingredients, but… loaded with herbicides and chemical pesticides (some of which are even said to be banned for sale in several Western countries). Suddenly, the detoxification process (elimination of toxins) would be hindered, and body fat would be stored. 

Besides, most of the ingredients (fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, spices, etc.) that grace Thai cuisine in restaurants, “Beach Clubs” and other Resorts in the Kingdom come from the shelves of “Macro” type supermarkets. They would be more contaminated in terms of pesticides than those sold in local fresh produce markets.

Thai food calories

Thai Fried Rice”: The “Khao Pad,” with its mixture of meats, seafood (your choice), and rice cooked in oil, can contain up to 1200 calories. And this is often just an accompaniment!

Tom Kha” (spicy and sweet and sour soup made from coconut milk): We find the concentrated coconut cream in this dish. A 400 calorie bowl of soft, smooth cream.

Pad Krapow” (stir-fried meat (pork, chicken, beef) with basil and garlic): at first glance, this dish appears like an innocent and healthy stir-fry. Still, the ground meat is soaked in oil, while the basil leaves have been deep-fried to release that recognizable flavor, bringing in its massive load of calories.

Cha Yen” (Thai tea with its milky orange concoction): this Thai tea is prepared with sweetened condensed milk. A staple food that is found in many Asian desserts and sweet drinks in the Kingdom. The rich, thick, reduced milk content pushes the calorie counter to around 400 calories per glass. And as long as you need 2-3 glasses of tea to calm the relentless burning of spices on your tongue from an ongoing Thai meal …

Mix Fruit Shake”: this drink is one of Thailand’s most popular among tourists and expatriates. There are several fresh fruits mixed with ice … but in which we will add sugar and syrup. Fresh and delicious, but very high in calories.

Chili Sauce” (spicy orange sauce): this accompaniment, which is served on all tables in Thai restaurants, remains very popular with locals (who love spicy dishes), and foreigners are looking for sweet flavors to complement their dishes. Usually, in this product there is much more sugar than chili peppers.

Thai and dietary cuisine

In return, here are 6 Thai specialties that are particularly recommended for their nutritional and dietetic aspects:

Yam Talay” (Seafood salad): rich in protein, light in carbohydrates, low in calories,

Tom Yum” (light and spicy soup): high in protein, light in carbohydrates, low in calories,

Gai Yang” (grilled Thai chicken): rich in protein, light in carbohydrates, moderate in calories,

Satay Gai” (braised chicken skewer with peanut sauce): high in protein, light in carbohydrates, low in calories,

“Pad Pak Bung Fai Daeng” (“Morning Glory” – fried bindweed): high in protein, light in carbohydrates, low in calories,

Pla Nueng Manao” (poached fish with lime): high in protein, light in carbohydrates, low in calories.

So, is Thai food healthy or unhealthy?

Thai food will always be a great source of all the nutrients the body needs. But despite what many people think, eating Thai dishes with noodles and white rice regularly is not going to help anyone regain their 20-year-old body.

Once again, there is no question of making a “lawsuit” against Thai Gastronomy, which remains one of the most beautiful and diverse cuisines. However, there are some familiar places to be careful: we all tend to be conditioned and have many misconceptions about everything. In particular, on Thai food and its benefits. No, it does not make you lose weight, and no, Thais are not all thin.

However, Thai cuisine can be healthy and beneficial; you just need to choose your dishes with care and knowledge (for all those polarized on their health). And to say, if necessary, if you do not want added sugar or salt to your dishes: “no sugar, please!” or “no salt, please!”

As for fans of “Vegan” cuisine, know that there are many establishments in Thailand that will delight you with their products. Enjoy your meal!

If you have any questions or comments on the content, please let us know!



Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.

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