Pad Thai: Calories, Nutrition, Benefits, Disadvantages

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Pad Thai is a traditional Thai dish available in restaurants around the world. Locally in Thailand, however, pad thai is a stir-fried dish of flat rice noodles with various ingredients as part of street food.

Many people enjoy eating this dish for its blend of pleasant flavors, textures and aromas, and for many it is a comfort food.

Let’s dive deep into what pad thai is, its nutritional composition, the pros and cons of eating pad thai, how you can make pad thai healthier, and some other healthy Thai food options.

Pad Thai is a traditional street food in Thailand. Its ingredients offer unique flavors, textures and aromas.

In general, the traditional pad thai is a stir-fry that includes:

  • Flat rice noodles: They are the main ingredient of the dish. Rice noodles are gluten-free and are made from rice flour and water.
  • Chicken: Cut into small pieces, it adds texture and protein to the dish.
  • Dried shrimp: These small prawns are soaked in salt water and dried in the sun. Although they shrink in size, dried shrimp still provide protein and exude the aroma and flavor of seafood, umami.
  • Eggs: They’re high in protein, add flavor, and generally pair well with starches.
  • Chive: They contribute to the garlicky and vegetal flavors and add color to the dish.
  • Mung Bean Sprouts: They add crispness and tenderness to the dish.

Pad Thai also includes several condiments to enhance flavor, color, texture, and aroma, including:

  • Tamarind paste: Unlike some westernized pad thai which uses ketchup for added flavor and color, traditional pad thai relies on tamarind paste. This brownish paste contributes to the noodles’ distinctive sweetness, tartness, and color.
  • Soya sauce: This common dark-colored condiment used in Asian cuisine also provides umami flavor and contributes to the color of the dish.
  • Fish sauce: This condiment is easily used in Thai cooking which contributes to the flavor of the dish.
  • Peanuts: A tablespoon or two can provide extra crunch.

The nutrients in pad thai can vary depending on the serving size and the ingredients used.

Prepackaged Pad Thai with White Meat Chicken (311g) provides the following nutrients (1):

  • calories: 429 calories
  • Carbohydrates: 82 g (29% of Daily Value)
  • Fiber: 4.04g
  • Sugars: 26g
  • Protein: 20 g (38% DV)
  • Total fat: 2.46 g (6% DV)
  • Saturated fat: 0.995 g (5% DV)
  • Cholesterol: 40.4 mg (13% DV)
  • Calcium: 71.5 mg (4% DV)
  • The iron: 1.21 mg (6% DV)
  • Sodium: 659 mg (31% DV)

Calories in Pad Thai and Nutrition Facts

Your daily caloric needs depend on factors such as your age, gender, and activity level.

In general, pre-packaged pad thai is considered low to moderate in calories.

Keep in mind, however, that pad thai can vary in calories and nutritional composition, depending on how it’s prepared, the ingredients used, and your serving size.

While keeping calorie estimates in mind can help with weight management if that’s your goal, counting calories isn’t necessary for healthy eating. It is very important to have a balanced diet with lots of foods that nourish your body and mind.

Pad Thai is a nutrient-dense dish offering many nutrients and health benefits, primarily from:

  • Flat rice noodles: They are rich in carbohydrates, which serve as an energy source to fuel our bodies, and selenium, an essential mineral that supports the immune system.
  • Chicken: Chicken is an excellent source of protein, which is vital for muscle building and repair and plays a role in bone health and calcium metabolism (2).
  • Dried shrimp: Shrimp is a rich source of protein and one of the best sources of iodine. Iodine is essential for thyroid function and the maintenance of a healthy brain (3).
  • Eggs: They are considered one of the most nutritious foods, offering protein, lots of vitamin A and antioxidants like lutein and zeaxanthin. Vitamin A and antioxidants may reduce your risk of cataracts and macular degeneration (4, 5).
  • Chive: Each tablespoon provides 5% of the daily value of vitamin K. Like eggs, chives also contain lutein and zeaxanthin (67).
  • mung bean sprouts: They are low in calories and are a good source of vitamin C and folate. Research also suggests that mung beans may reduce your risk of certain cancers (89, 10, 11).

Although pad thai may offer nutritional and health benefits, there are two things you may want to consider if you eat this dish frequently.

High in sodium

Although pad thai offers a wide range of essential nutrients, it is high in sodium. The three main sodium-rich ingredients in pad Thai are fish sauce, soy sauce, and dried shrimp.

Fish sauce is a brine made from salting and fermenting fish, such as anchovies or krill. In Thai cuisine, fish sauce is an everyday staple, and it’s even sometimes used in place of table salt.

While pad thai contains only small amounts of fish sauce, one tablespoon (16 g) contains 1,260 mg of sodium, which is 55% of the daily value (12).

Compared to fish sauce, soy sauce contains less sodium per tablespoon (16 g). However, the amount of sodium present is still significant at 38% of the Daily Value (13).

Dried shrimp also offers a considerable amount of sodium, with one ounce (28 g) of dried shrimp providing 624 mg of sodium, contributing 27% of the Daily Value (14).

Although sodium is an essential nutrient, consuming too much in your regular diet may increase your risk of high blood pressure and stomach cancer over time (1516, 17, 18).

Rich in starch

Another potential downside of pad thai is its substantial amount of starch – a carbohydrate – from the flat rice noodles. As such, we refer to the glycemic index to determine how carbohydrates affect our blood sugar levels.

The glycemic index refers to how quickly carbohydrate-based foods raise blood sugar levels, based on a value between 0 and 100. The higher the index value, the more it seems to rapidly raise blood sugar levels.

Considering rice noodles have a glycemic index of 61, people with diabetes may need to be careful with portion sizes (19).

You can eat pad Thai in moderation as part of your regular diet. If you like pad thai often, you might want to make some adjustments. Cooking at home can be an easy way to do this.

To avoid losing its authentic taste, you can consider reducing its sodium content by simply using less fish sauce and soy sauce or choosing a low-sodium soy sauce. You can also choose to reduce the amount of dried shrimp.

Since cooking pad thai requires oil, you may consider choosing a cooking oil that has health benefits and is suitable for stir-frying, such as refined avocado oil, peanut oil refined and canola oil.

See Healthline’s guide to cooking oils for more information.

When making pad Thai, you can also incorporate high-quality protein options, such as white poultry meat or firm chunks of tofu.

Tofu, in particular, would be a perfect option. It contains all essential amino acids, is an excellent source of manganese and calcium, and is a good source of selenium and phosphorus. It is also suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

For more fibre, vitamins and minerals, enjoy a pad thai with a pad pak (sautéed vegetables). Replacing some or all of the noodles with pad pak is also a great choice for people with diabetes who want to lower their glycemic load.

The pad pak uses many vegetables, including broccoli, baby bok choy, carrots, mushrooms, and water chestnuts, combined with common Thai ingredients, such as garlic, galangal, shallots, basil fresh thai and chili flakes.

Substitutes for Vegetarian Pad Thai

You can also create a vegetarian version of pad thai by replacing the regular fish sauce with a vegan “fish sauce” made with kelp and the chicken with firm tofu.

Beyond pad thai, Thai cuisine offers many delicious and nutritious dishes to include in your meal pattern.

For example, green papaya salad is popular in Thai cuisine, just as raw cucumbers and green peppers are added to Western-style salads.

Another Thai favorite among many foodies is fresh Thai spring rolls. This roll is similar to Vietnamese salad rolls, where both use thin rice wrappers, cooked rice vermicelli, bean sprouts and shrimp. The Thai version also includes Thai holy basil and cilantro.

A clear spicy soup, tom yum goong nam sai, is another well-known Thai dish. This hot and sour soup incorporates seafood, vegetables, lemongrass, galangal, and kaffir lime leaves, resulting in a blend of flavors and aromas.

Pad Thai is a savory, nutrient-dense dish that offers a combination of flavors, textures and aromas, making it one of the most popular dishes on local streets in Thailand and in Thai restaurants around the world. whole. It can certainly be part of a healthy, balanced diet.

Although pad thai includes many nutritious ingredients, its sodium content is considerably high. You can reduce its sodium by asking the restaurant to go easy on the sauce and salty condiments.

If you make your own, however, you can manage the amount of ingredients and seasonings used.

Finally, pad thai is a stir-fried noodle dish that includes a decent amount of carbs; you may want to be careful with your intake if you have diabetes, as rice noodles can raise your blood sugar.

Consider enjoying a half plate of non-starchy Thai stir-fried vegetables and a quarter plate of lean protein with a quarter plate of pad thai to round out the meal.

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