Which hawker food is worse for your health?

Which hawker food is worse for your health?

Char kway teow or Hokkien mee? Find out which is the better meal option. 

You don't have to swear off all your favourite indulgences at the hawker centre.

The trick?

Make smarter choices among the baddies so you get more nutrients, says Jaclyn Reutens, dietitian at Aptima Nutrition & Sports Consultants.

And, cap your portions at 400 calories for the main course and 200 calories for a snack, she says.

In other words: Don't finish all of it.

For example, if a typical serving of duck rice has 672 calories, eat about two-thirds of it.

"An average Asian woman with a sedentary nine-to-five lifestyle needs about 1,600 calories, 50 grams of fat and less than 18 grams of saturated fat (or sat fat) in her daily diet, so remember to keep these treats to not more than once a week," says Jaclyn.

Here she casts her verdict among 10 pairs of popular local dishes, and tells us why one is worse than the other.

Get ready for some surprises!

(Note: Analysis is based on standard serving sizes and nutritional data from the Health Promotion Board of Singapore.)

1. NASI BIRYANI (with chicken thigh) vs NASI LEMAK (with fried chicken wing, ikan bilis and fried egg)

877 calories, 34.8g total fat, 14.8g sat fat vs 657 calories; 24.8g total fat; 10.7g sat fat

Which hawker food is worse for you? Nasi Lemak

The dietitian says: This is a tough fight between similar dishes.

Both contain rice cooked in fat (coconut milk for lemak and ghee for biryani) and are served with protein foods and minuscule amounts of vegetables.

However, you're better off opting for nasi biryani as the rice is lower in calories and saturated fat.

The grains used in this dish (basmati or long-grain) are also better for controlling blood sugar levels.

When it comes to chicken, the wings are higher in fat than thighs

Calorie-saving tip: Remove the skin on the thigh and eat only half the amount of rice served.


695 calories; 44.8g total fat; 21.7g sat fat vs 696 calories; 39.7g total fat; 14.2g sat fat

Which hawker food is worse for you? Curry chicken noodles

The dietitian says: Laksa is actually more nutritious than chicken curry noodles.

Besides being significantly lower in fat, it contains more vitamin A, calcium and iron.

Calorie-saving tip: Drain the tau pok of excess gravy before eating it.

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