Chinese New Year goodies are often high in fat and sugar, which means they contain a lot of calories, and there is a tendency for people to unknowingly consume these goodies in large quantities.
However, there are no particular foods that are absolutely healthy or unhealthy. It’s all about portion size control.
Examples of Chinese New Year foods that needs portion control:
1. Bak Kwa
Bak kwa is generally high in energy, fat and sugar.
Two slices of bak kwa contain about 600kcal of energy or comparable amount of energy to a plate of chicken rice.
About 75 per cent of energy is provided by the fat in meat and sugar or honey, added for flavouring.
A considerable amount of salt is also added both as a flavouring agent and as a preservative.
Two slices of bak kwa contain about half the recommended daily level of salt.
As a guide, limit yourself to half a slice each time, and not more than one slice a day.
2. Pineapple Tarts
Pineapple tarts are high in fat and sugar. Three pieces of tarts can contain as much as 300 calories.
This is equivalent to about one bowl of rice, but with far more fat and sugar.
The sugar content is equivalent to about five teaspoons of sugar.
As a guide, limit to two tarts each time and not more than four tarts a day.
3. Preserved Meats
(Chinese Sausages and Waxed Duck)
Preserved meat such as Chinese sausages and waxed ducks are generally high in fat and salt.
For example, two pieces (40g) of waxed duck contain about 880 mg of sodium (2g salt).
This is about half the recommended daily limit of 2,000mg sodium (5g salt).
One small link of Chinese sausages contains almost the same amount of fat as half a plate of fried kway teow.
Hence, use preserved meat ingredients in moderation to add variety and interest to a dish rather than eating them as a main dish.
Also, reduce the amount of salt used in the dish as the preserved meat will impart saltiness to the dish.
How many calories is what you're drinking?
4. Sweetened Drinks
A can of soft drink typically contains about six to eight teaspoons of sugar.
Carbonated soft drinks tend to have about 20% higher sugar content compared to non-carbonated soft drinks.
It is recommended that our daily sugar intake should not exceed eight to 11 teaspoons of added sugar, as excessive sugar intake can lead to weight gain.
Hence, choose healthier versions such as plain water, sparking mineral water, reduced sugar drinks or sugar-free soft drinks.
Excessive alcohol may cause motor and industrial accidents, violence, and social and psychological problems.
For those who choose to drink, the recommendations are: not more than two standard drinks per day for women, and not more than three standard drinks per day for men.
A standard drink is defined as 10g of alcohol and may comprise of:
>> 2/3 regular cans of beer [Ave: 5% alc/vol] (220ml)
>> 1 glass of wine [Ave: 12%alc/vol] (100ml)
>> 1 nip of spirit [Ave: 40% alc/vol] (30 ml)
Information provided by Ms Ruth-ann Wen Senior Nutritionist, Centre of Excellence for Nutrition, Health Promotion Board.