Studies from around the world have consistently shown that eating breakfast is vital to maintaining a healthy weight. Those who eat breakfast tend to eat fewer calories throughout the day than those who skip this important meal.
However, not all breakfast foods are equal. Many Singaporeans grab a quick breakfast from hawker stalls on the way to work. While convenient, a diet based on these foods is bad for their health for a variety of reasons.
One of the most frequent consequences of a diet based on hawker food breakfasts is obesity. 10.8 percent of Singaporeans are obese. Obesity contributes to the development of hypertension and diabetes, as well as other chronic diseases.
Which hawker foods should you avoid?
Men’s Health Magazine concluded that these five are the absolute worst for your health:
-Fried Bee Hoon with Luncheon Meat and Egg
This dish contains a whopping 935 calories, 41g of fat, and 1,351mg of sodium. One plate has almost half of the daily recommended calories. The lunch meat included in this dish is high in fat and processed with chemicals, putting your heart health at risk.
One bowl of Mee Siam contains 694 calories, 24g of fat, and 2,659mg of sodium. This dish is also loaded with carbohydrates, 92g. The average office worker should eat more protein than carbohydrates for breakfast unless they are planning to stop at the gym for an intense workout. Eating such a huge amount of carbs first thing in the morning leads to unstable blood sugar levels. This can leave you feeling lethargic and definitely not ready to face the workday.
-Fried Carrot Cake with Egg and Dark Sweet Sauce
This dish has 493 calories, 35g of fat, and 1,289mg sodium. Just like Mee Siam, it contains a lot of carbohydrates, 42g, resulting in the same unstable blood sugar levels.
-Roti Prata with Chicken Curry
One serving of this dish yields 451 calories, 23g of fat, and 895mg of sodium. Roti Prata with Chicken Curry is not only high in carbohydrates, at 42g, it is also full of hydrogenated or trans fats. Eating dishes high in these fats over a long period of time can lead to clogged arteries and heart damage.
A bowl of this hawker favourite contains 571 calories, 17g of fat and 2,164mg of sodium. The gravy included in this dish has almost the entire daily recommended amount of sodium. Mee Rebus is also high in carbohydrates, containing 82g.
It seems like the common thread throughout these dishes, apart from an excessive amount of calories, is an incredibly high sodium content. Sodium is often found in highly processed foods. Eating more than the daily recommended 1 tsp or 2,000mg of sodium per day can lead to high blood pressure.
For a healthy and well-balanced diet, the Singapore Health Xchange recommends that the average adult eat a breakfast of approximately 400 calories. This breakfast should include a serving of protein, which provides fuel throughout the day.
If you, like 6 out of 10 Singaporeans, are unable to avoid eating at hawker stalls at least once a day, buy from hawkers that have received the Healthier Hawker Designation.
SOURCES: https://www.menshealth.com.sg/weight-loss-nutrition/your-unhealthiest-hawker-breakfasts-ever; https://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/statistics/Health_Facts_Singapore/
Disease_Burden.html;https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/lose-weight-eat-breakfast?page=2;https://www.healthxchange.com.sg/healthyliving/DietandNutrition/Pages/Eating-Right-in-a-Busy-World.aspx#; Image courtesy of zirconicusso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net