SINGAPORE - Economical rice may be lighter on the wallet, but that does not mean it cannot be bigger on health benefits.
A diner can have a balanced meal if he chooses dishes wisely from the array - which usually includes meat, soya bean curd, egg and vegetables - to go with rice.
Xing Ji Chao Zhou Porridge Rice Kway Chap at Seah Im Food Centre has made its food less artery-clogging by switching to oil that contains less saturated fat and more unsaturated fat since last October.
When consumed, saturated fat is converted into low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "bad" cholesterol, which is distributed through the blood to tissues to make hormones.
However, when it is in excess, it is deposited on artery walls, narrowing the arteries. This raises a person's risk of heart disease and stroke.
Unsaturated fat, however, is converted into high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or "good" cholesterol. This helps the body rid itself of "bad" cholesterol in the bloodstream.
The economical rice stall started using the healthier oil after joining the Healthier Hawker Programme, which the Health Promotion Board extended to the food centre at Seah Im Road, located diagonally opposite HarbourFront Centre and HarbourFront MRT station.
The other food centres in the programme, launched in April 2011, are Yuhua Market and Hawker Centre, Eunos Crescent Market and Food Centre, Geylang Serai Market and Food Centre, Haig Road Market and Cooked Food Centre, and Marine Terrace Market and Food Centre.
About 20 of the 40 stalls that sell food and beverages in Seah Im Food Centre are using at least one healthier ingredient.
Mr Lim Siang Heng, 63, who runs the economical rice stall, said: "The healthier oil tastes okay and the price is about the same as that of the oil we used previously. It is also better for health, so we decided to use it."
The switch also seems to have improved the financial health of the stall - business has grown by about 20 per cent since, Mr Lim said.
A plate of rice with three toppings costs $2.50, while that with four toppings costs $3.
The steamed egg, minced pork in tau cheo (fermented soya bean paste) and xiancai (a type of amaranth from the spinach family called yin choy in Cantonese and bayam in Malay) were not greasy.
But they were slightly salty, though quite tasty when eaten with the rice.
What is cheap can still be good.
Mind Your Body paid for the meal.
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