Is Vietnamese food healthy? Making Healthy Choices 

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I was curious to know the answer to the question, “Is Vietnamese food healthy?” After indulging in many dishes during my travels to Vietnam and dining at Vietnamese restaurants, I can attest that the cuisine offers a unique balance of flavors and ingredients that can be both delicious and nutritious. 

I want to share my personal experience with Vietnamese food and explore the health benefits that make it a great option for those looking for a satisfying and wholesome meal.

What is the healthiest Vietnamese food?

What is the healthiest Vietnamese food
What is the healthiest Vietnamese food?

Vietnamese cuisine offers a variety of healthy options that are both delicious and nutritious. Contrary to common misconceptions, Vietnamese food is not always fried or high in sodium. In fact, many traditional dishes feature fresh vegetables, aromatic herbs, and lean protein sources. 

The healthiest Vietnamese foods include pho, bun cha, goi cuon, and banh mi with grilled meats and veggies. By incorporating these dishes into your diet and making informed choices when dining out, you can enjoy Vietnamese cuisine’s flavorful and healthful benefits. In this article, we will explore the nutritional profile of Vietnamese food and provide tips for making healthy choices.

Why is Vietnamese food so healthy?

Why is Vietnamese food so healthy
Why is Vietnamese food so healthy?

Vietnamese food is considered healthy for several reasons. Firstly, key ingredients like fresh herbs and vegetables are used in abundance, providing essential vitamins and minerals.

Secondly, the cuisine’s culinary influences, including Chinese and French, have helped create a diverse range of dishes with balanced flavors and ingredients. 

Thirdly, regional variations in Vietnamese cuisine also offer a variety of nutritious options. For instance, the southern region of Vietnam uses coconut milk and sugar sparingly, resulting in lighter dishes. 

Additionally, traditional Vietnamese dishes are often low in fat and incorporate healthy proteins like seafood and lean meats. The nutritional profile of Vietnamese cuisine is well-balanced, featuring plenty of vegetables, fiber, and healthy fats, making it a great choice for those looking for a healthy and delicious meal.

How healthy is Vietnamese food?

Vietnamese cuisine is regarded as a healthy option because of its focus on using fresh, high-quality ingredients and maintaining a balanced approach to flavors and nutrition. 

The cuisine features low-fat and high-fiber dishes, which are great for those looking to lose weight. Fresh vegetables and herbs are used in abundance, providing essential vitamins and minerals, and the cuisine also incorporates a balanced use of protein sources like seafood and lean meats. 

Additionally, many Vietnamese dishes include medicinal ingredients like ginger and turmeric, which have anti-inflammatory properties and are beneficial for overall health. 

By incorporating Vietnamese cuisine into a balanced diet and being mindful of portion sizes and sauces, it can be a great option for those looking to eat healthily and deliciously. So, is Vietnamese food good for weight loss? Yes, it can be, as long as you choose the right dishes and practice portion control.

Healthy Vietnamese food options

Here are some healthy Vietnamese food options to try:

  • Pho soup is made with lean protein, vegetables, and rice noodles
  • Grilled meats or fish served with herbs and rice noodles
  • Salads like goi ga (shredded chicken salad) or goi cuon (shrimp salad rolls) packed with fresh vegetables and lean protein
  • Tofu stir-fry with vegetables
  • Banh mi sandwiches with grilled vegetables and tofu
  • Canh chua soup made with fish, vegetables, and tamarind broth
  • Bun cha gio (vermicelli noodle bowl) with grilled meat or tofu and fresh herbs and vegetables
  • Goi du du (green papaya salad) with shrimp or tofu and peanuts.
  • Bo kho (Vietnamese Beef Stew) combines tender beef, fragrant spices, and hearty vegetables like carrots and potatoes, simmered to perfection, served with Vietnamese baguette.

What are common myths about Vietnamese foods?

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What are common myths about Vietnamese foods?

Vietnamese cuisine has been subject to several common myths that can be misleading. Here are three such myths:

The belief that Vietnamese food is high in sodium

While some Vietnamese dishes can be high in sodium, it is not a defining characteristic of the cuisine. In fact, traditional Vietnamese cooking uses fish sauce as a primary seasoning, which is a lower sodium option than soy sauce.

The misconception that Vietnamese cuisine is always fried

While there are some fried dishes in Vietnamese cuisine, such as banh ran (glutinous rice ball with sweet filling), it is not a predominant cooking method. Vietnamese cuisine typically emphasizes grilling, steaming, and stir-frying, which are healthier cooking methods.

The assumption that pho is unhealthy due to its high-calorie count

Pho, a popular Vietnamese soup, is often assumed to be high in calories due to its richness and use of noodles. However, pho can be a healthy option if made with lean protein and plenty of vegetables. Additionally, many Vietnamese restaurants offer a variety of pho options, including vegetarian and low-sodium versions.

Tips for making healthy choices at Vietnamese restaurants

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Tips for making healthy choices at Vietnamese restaurants

If you’re looking to make healthy choices at Vietnamese restaurants, here are some tips:

  • Start with fresh spring rolls instead of fried ones.
  • Choose dishes with lean protein sources like seafood or grilled meats.
  • Ask for sauces on the side to control portion sizes and reduce added sugars and sodium.
  • Look for dishes with plenty of vegetables and herbs, such as stir-fried vegetables or salads.
  • Opt for soups with clear broths instead of cream-based soups.
  • Choose dishes with rice or rice noodles instead of fried options.
  • Ask for low-sodium options if available.
  • Share dishes with others to control portion sizes and reduce overeating.
  • Skip sugary drinks and opt for water or tea.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes and avoid overeating, especially if dishes are served family-style.

Being mindful of your choices and prioritizing fresh, whole ingredients, you can enjoy the delicious flavors of Vietnamese cuisine while making healthier choices.


Is Vietnamese food healthier than Chinese?

Both Vietnamese and Chinese cuisines offer healthy options, but it depends on the specific dishes and preparation methods. 

Vietnamese cuisine tends to incorporate more fresh herbs and vegetables, while Chinese cuisine may have more fried options. However, both cuisines can be healthy if you choose the right dishes and practice portion control.

Can a vegetarian or vegan diet be accommodated in Vietnamese cuisine?

Yes, Vietnamese cuisine offers many vegetarian and vegan options, such as tofu stir-fry, vegetarian pho, and banh mi sandwiches with grilled vegetables and tofu. 

Many Vietnamese restaurants also offer options for dietary restrictions and can accommodate requests for customized dishes.

Is Vietnamese food always gluten-free?

Vietnamese food is not always gluten-free, but many dishes are naturally gluten-free, such as rice noodles, fresh spring rolls, and stir-fried vegetables. 

However, some dishes may contain soy sauce or other gluten-containing ingredients, so it’s important to ask your server or chef about any potential allergens.

Is Vietnamese food good for digestion?

Yes, Vietnamese food can be good for digestion. The cuisine often features fresh herbs and vegetables, which are high in fiber and beneficial for gut health. Additionally, dishes like pho soup and canh chua soup often contain ginger, which has anti-inflammatory properties and can aid in digestion.

Is Vietnamese food good for the immune system?

Yes, Vietnamese food can be good for the immune system. Many Vietnamese dishes feature ingredients like garlic, lemongrass, and turmeric, which have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. 

These ingredients can help support the immune system by reducing inflammation and protecting against cell damage. Additionally, the abundance of fresh vegetables and herbs in Vietnamese cuisine can provide essential vitamins and minerals that support overall health and immunity.

Are Vietnamese herbs and spices healthy?

Yes, Vietnamese herbs and spices are often considered healthy due to their medicinal properties. 

Many Vietnamese dishes feature herbs like basil, mint, and coriander, which are high in antioxidants and have anti-inflammatory properties. 

Spices like ginger and turmeric are also commonly used in Vietnamese cuisine and are known for their immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties.

What are some healthy Vietnamese soups?

Vietnamese cuisine features a variety of healthy soups, including:

  • Pho soup: A clear broth soup made with rice noodles, herbs, and protein like beef or chicken.
  • Canh chua soup: A sweet and sour soup made with fish or shrimp, vegetables, and tamarind broth.
  • Bun rieu: A tomato-based soup made with crab or shrimp paste, tofu, and vegetables.
  • Hu Tieu: A light soup made with rice noodles and a variety of meat and vegetable toppings.
  • Bun bo hue: A spicy beef soup made with lemongrass, chili, and vermicelli noodles.
  • Chao Ga: A simple chicken rice soup made with ginger and green onions.
  • Mien ga: A chicken and glass noodle soup with herbs and black fungus mushrooms.

Is Vietnamese food considered clean eating?

Vietnamese food can be considered a form of clean eating due to its emphasis on fresh, whole ingredients and minimal processing. Vietnamese cuisine often features fresh herbs and vegetables, lean protein sources, and a variety of spices and flavors that add depth without the need for added sugars or fats.

What are some healthy Vietnamese breakfast options?

Healthy Vietnamese breakfast options include:

  • Com tam: Broken rice with grilled pork or tofu, vegetables, and fish sauce.
  • Banh mi: A sandwich made with grilled meats or tofu, fresh vegetables, and a French baguette.
  • Xoi: Sweet or savory sticky rice with toppings like grilled chicken, shredded pork, or beans.
  • Pho: A light and flavorful soup with rice noodles and protein like chicken or beef.
  • Bun thit nuong: Grilled pork with vermicelli noodles and fresh vegetables.
  • Chao: Rice porridge with toppings like chicken or fish, ginger, and green onions.
  • Boiled eggs with soy sauce and black pepper.


Taking all of this into account, “Is Vietnamese food healthy?” The answer is a resounding yes! From its abundant use of fresh vegetables and herbs to its balanced approach to protein and low-fat dishes, Vietnamese cuisine offers a unique combination of flavors and nutrition, making it a great option for those seeking a healthy meal. 

By understanding the nutritional benefits of Vietnamese food and making informed choices when dining out or cooking at home, you can enjoy this cuisine’s delicious and potentially nutritious flavors. So go ahead and confidently explore the world of Vietnamese food, knowing that you can savor the flavors while also taking care of your health.

Alex Au Yeung
Alex Au Yeung

With a passion for food and travel, Alex Au Yeung shares his culinary experiences and recommendations with his readers. Through his writing, he aims to showcase the rich and diverse flavors of Vietnamese and Asian cuisine to a wider audience.