A list of Thai appetizers and entrees and some tips on a healthier way to eat Thai food.

You might think you are doing yourself a favor by going to eat at your favorite Thai restaurant. Traditional Thai food is expected to be healthy, using the fresh ingredient, herbs, spices, and vegetables. But many of the appetizers and entrees on the menu are anything but healthy, you will be surprised at how much sugar, oil and monosodium glutamate (MSG) is used.

SUMMER ROLLS

Lean pork or shrimp mixed with vegetables and rice noodles and wrapped in a thin sheet of rice paper—summer rolls might be accurately thought of as healthy and un-fried egg rolls. They have roots in Vietnam, but they’re common in other parts of Asia and available on some Thai menus. Just make sure you order a summer and not a spring roll, or you’ll be right back in the fryer.

Satay

These meat skewers are grilled and then coated in a spicy peanut sauce, which brings to your table lots of flavor and protein with relatively little fat: An entree portion has fewer than 300 calories.

Tom Yum

A high-protein, low-calorie soup featuring lean meat and mushrooms simmered in broth with lemongrass, cilantro, and other seasonings. You’ll do fine with any bowl of tom yum, but the best options are the ones that feature shrimp or mixed seafood.

Coconut Soup

In terms of fat and calories, this soup is on par with a chowder or cream-based soup. Unless it’s all you plan on eating, pick something else.

Grilled

Grilled meats are popular in Thai cuisine, and as far as lean cooking methods go, this is as good as it gets. Instead of letting oils soak into the tissue, the grill’s dry heat pulls fats out. Every time you eat Thai, try to squeeze one grilled item on your family’s table.

Massaman Curry

A curry that’s closer in consistency to the thicker versions of India and generally cooked with crushed peanuts and potatoes. However, like most Thai curries, massaman generally carries a load of high-cal coconut cream

Sweet Coconut Rice

It may have fewer calories than the pies and cakes found in Western restaurants, but this is no dieter’s dessert. The rice contributes nothing but refined starches, the coconut milk packs plenty of fat, and the sugar surge pushes the calorie count over the edge

Mild, Medium, or Hot

If you can stand the heat, tell the chef to turn it up. That burn on your tongue comes from a class of pepper-based phytochemicals called capsaicin, which has been shown to clear congestion, lower cholesterol, and boost metabolism to reduce body fat. Taiwanese researchers even found that exposing developing fat cells to capsaicin caused them to die before they matured. And hey, who says you can’t break a little sweat at the dinner table?