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Common Nutritional concerns of Chinese Australians

Nutrition | June 27, 2020 | Author: Naturopath


Common Nutritional concerns of Chinese Australians

Peoples from different ethnic backgrounds can experience particular nutritional deficiencies which may occur due to genetics, home relocation - resulting in changes to usual diet, cultural dietary restrictions or poor food choices.  Some nutrient deficiencies can be common to all Australians or be of particular concerns to Chinese residents.

The typical Chinese diet is healthy, diverse and flavoursome with many fruits, vegetables and proteins. Many Australian Chinese will continue to eat traditional diets and maintain usual cooking methods. Abundant nutritional elements can be obtained from a diet rich in various fruits, vegetables, rice and wheat, soy-based products, legumes, beans, chicken, pork and eggs. Unfortunately, for many  Chinese people, a shift from a traditional diet to a diet of increased fat intake, high sodium and lowered amounts of fruit and vegetables causes an imbalance in the intake of valuable nutrients and an increase in morbidity and mortality from disease. Diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, dyslipidaemia, cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis and some cancers, for example, may be common. Change in diet influence the development of chronic disease, but addressing nutritional deficiencies may help,

Nutritional areas of concern 

Vitamin D

Nutritional areas of concern Vitamin D deficiency can lead to osteoporosis and fractures, particularly in the elderly.

Vitamin D is obtained mainly through exposure of bare limbs to the sun in the summer time in Australia, and some dietary sources. Unfortunately, only a few foods contain significant amounts of vitamin D. These include fish with a high fat content - sardines, salmon, herring and mackerel; meat; milk and eggs; and fortified foods such as margarine.

Supplementation of vitamin D is often advised especially over the winter months. Sun exposure, diet, exercise and not smoking are important measures in the prevention of osteoporosis.


Iodine is needed for the production of thyroid hormones – which in turn are required for healthy growth and development of children (especially important for brain development in pregnancy and early childhood development) and metabolism. Too much iodine or too little iodine can cause serious health issues. The consequences of iodine deficiency in very early pregnancy can be intellectual impairment and growth retardation. Even a mild iodine deficiency during pregnancy can result in educational and cognitive impairments in children. Where foods are grown or made influences iodine content. Oysters, sushi, canned salmon, cheese, milk and eggs are some sources of iodine. Many foods in Australia are now fortified with iodine and supplementation is available. 


Iron is an important mineral for the delivery of oxygen to cells throughout the body. An iron deficiency can develop slowly and is of particular concern for vegetarians, woman of child-bearing age, teenagers and children. Iron deficiency may result in anaemia, fatigue, decreased immunity, slow cognitive function, behaviour changes and poor social skills in children and poor work performance. The best iron-rich foods are those obtained from animals. People who choose a vegetarian diet maybe at risk of becoming iron deficient.


Calcium is needed for the growth of bones and teeth and needed throughout life and especially in childhood and adolescents.

Other roles for calcium include nerve transmission, blood clotting and muscle action. Sources for calcium come from dairy foods, soy milk and tofu, nuts, salmon and sardines (with bones).


Selenium works as an antioxidant in the body and regulates thyroid hormone. Many parts of the world are deficient in selenium from soil. Selenium deficiency often accompanies iodine deficiency.


High sodium and low potassium intakes are important risk factors for hypertension (high blood pressure). The major source of sodium is salt added to food, soy sauce, monosodium glutamate and processed food. Reduce sources of sodium and increase potassium-rich foods – fruits and vegetables, and drink water to help correct sodium imbalances in the body. 

Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem in china especially concerning young children from rural areas. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness and is recognisable as an important public health problem. Vitamin A – retinol and its derivatives, are important for maintenance of the immune system, normal vision and growth in humans. It cannot be made in the body, so therefore needs to be provided by the diet and thus can affect all age groups and is especially important during periods of high growth, such as in pregnancy and early childhood. Deficiency is linked to night blindness, xeropthalmia (dry eye), anaemia and impaired immune function – increasing the risk of death from diseases such as measles and diarrhea. The most important food sources for vitamin A come from eggs, meat and meat products, poultry, fish, milk and vegetables. Rice does not contain vitamin A.

About the Diet

Follow a healthy diet.  Enjoy a diet of mostly vegetables, small amounts of fish, chicken or meat accompanied by noodles, rice or wheat buns. Eat fruit for desert and to aid digestion and drink antioxidant-rich green tea and water. 

If lactose intolerant, include plenty of soy, tofu, sardines and salmon with edible bones.

Avoid adding salt to foods and use reduced-salt processed foods (such as salt-reduced soy sauce).

Eat whole grain products. Studies of whole grains, whether they be wheat, rice, barley or oats etc. are of value for the prevention of diseases  such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and some cancers (colorectal, gastric, pancreatic). Eat 2 -3 per servings per day.

Practice healthy cooking – boiling, steaming and baking as opposed to frying foods.

Rice and Wheat

Rice is often the primary food for many meals and is the most highly consumed grain in the world. Wheat flour is commonly made into steamed buns and bread and is a regularly consumed food eaten. It has been reported that the rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) may cause a decline in protein and mineral content of some foods grown around the world (including rice and wheat). Nutrients found to be affected included protein, iron, zinc, B1, B2, B5, and B9.

Rice is already a poor source of nutrition. Except as a carbohydrate and a small amount of magnesium and potassium content, it is void of, or only contains small amounts of vitamins and minerals. White rice has been associated with an increase in the risk of developing diabetes. Brown or wholegrain rice does contain more fibre and nutrition than processed white rice. Rice is best eaten as an accompaniment to a meal rather than the main ingredient.

Wheat‐based foods provide protein, B vitamins, dietary fibre and phytochemicals. 

Achieving balance of positive (yang) and negative (yin) energy in the body can be influenced by particular food which are eaten. Choosing to eat heathy, natural foods which are good for the body, and correcting any nutritional deficiencies, is an important step in the mainenance of health and the prevention of disease.  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Food, eating behavior, and culture in Chinese society

Effects of Diet and Exercise on Plasma Vitamin D (25(OH)D) Levels in Vietnamese Immigrant Elderly in Sydney, Australia

Eliminating Iodine Deficiency in China: Achievements, Challenges and Global Implications

The Prevalence of Vitamin A Deficiency in Chinese Children: A Systematic Review and Bayesian Meta-Analysis

The Difference in Nutrient Intakes between Chinese and Mediterranean, Japanese and American Diets,fortified%20foods%20such%20as%20margarine.

Dietary vitamin a intake among Chinese adults: findings from CNTCS2015

White Rice Consumption and Risk of Type 2 Diabetes: Meta-Analysis and Systematic Review

Health Benefits of Dietary Whole Grains: An Umbrella Review of Meta-analyses

The contribution of wheat to human diet and health

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