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Healthy Eating Tips for Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year is soon coming. Similar to other festivals, it involves a lot of festive foods and eating. Most festive foods are high in calories, fat, sugar and salt. To prevent post festival weight gain or want to be healthier during the Lunar New Year one should better pay more attention to the nutrient content of traditional Lunar New Year foods. Below are some healthy eating tips for you during the holidays.


Healthy Tip #1: Choose Chinese puddings carefully

Chinese puddings are traditionally high in fat, sugar or salt. Among all popular Chinese puddings, Chinese pudding with coconut milk contains the highest calories, fat and sugar. A 100 g of coconut milk Chinese pudding already has 300 kcal (equivalent to 1.5 of rice), 12 g total fat (~ 2.5 teaspoon oil) and 21g sugar (~ 5 teaspoon of sugar). Besides, golden pudding and Chinese pudding made with cane sugar are also high in calories and sugar.

Savory Chinese puddings such as radish pudding or taro pudding, even though not high in sugar; but they are higher in sodium content. A 100 g of radish or taro pudding contains about 400 to 500 mg sodium. If consume 4 – 5 slices of savory pudding, sodium intake would reach over 30% of total daily recommendation. In comparison, healthier Chinese puddings include water chestnut pudding, steamed radish pudding and Osmanthus flower sweet pudding.

It is suggested to use healthier cooking method such as steam or pan-fried with less oil when heating up the puddings, as it helps reduce fat intake. Avoid adding too much high sodium condiments such as soy sauce, oyster sauce or even chili soybean paste when eating the puddings. One should also control the portion of pudding intake as around 2 – 3 slices of radish or taro pudding already provide the calories of one bowl of rice. Recently, vegetarian Chinese pudding and reduced sugar pudding are also available in the market, those who wants to be healthy may also try these new flavors.

Chinese Pudding (per 100g) Energy (kcal) Fat (g) Sugar (g) Sodium (mg) Equivalent to running time(mins)
☹ Coconut Milk Chinese Pudding 303 12 21 25 43
☹ Golden Pudding 289 10 19 68 41
☹ Chinese pudding with cane sugar 258 2 27 17 37
😐 Red date pudding 190 2 19 17 27
😐 Pan fried taro pudding 160 7 2 460 23
😐 Steamed taro pudding 149 3 2 279 21
😐 Pan fried water chestnut pudding 140 2 19 12 20
😐 Pan fried radish pudding 130 6 3 540 19
🙂 Water Chestnut pudding 120 1 20 0 17
🙂 Steamed radish pudding 87 4 2 430 12
🙂 Osmanthus flower sweet pudding 87 1 15 27 12

Healthy Tip #2: Choose Healthier Snacks

Besides Chinese puddings, many traditional snacks for Lunar new year such as melon seeds, fried dumplings, cookies, candy, chocolate, egg rolls, etc. are very popular. But they tend to have a lot of calories, sugar and even fat. More healthy choices include unsalted nuts or melon seeds, dried fruits such as raisins, dried apricots and red dates. For the Chinese traditional snack box to be served at home, you can also consider putting individual packets of seaweed, raisins. Japanese rice cake, sugar-free candy, freeze dried fruit slices and a small amount of dark chocolate. So, your guests can be served with healthier choices when they come visit during Lunar New Year.

Portion Energy (kcal) Fat (g) Sugar (g) Sodium (mg)
✔ Seaweed 1 small packet (3 g) 15 1 0.6 21
✔ Freeze dried apple 1 packet (10g) 40 0 8 0
✔ Raisins 1 small box (28g) 91 0 20 7
✔ Dark chocolate 1 small piece (7 g) 47 3.6 0.8 0
✔ Japanese rice crackers 10 small pieces 87 1 0.7 87
✔ Watermelon seeds 30 g 175 13 0 30
✔ Pumpkins seeds 30 g 175 14 0 5
✔ Unsalted pistachio 30g 171 14 2 3
✔ Unsalted cashew 30克 172 14 2 5
❌ Laughing jujube 100g 567 46 12 41
❌ Peanut candy 100g 554 34 24 148
❌ Candied lotus root 100g 250 0 50 50
❌ Butter cookie 1 cookie 88 5 3 42
❌ Butter Egg roll 1 piece 78 5 3 11
❌ Fried dumpling 2 small pieces 184 10 12 30
❌ Hazelnut chocolate 1 piece 75 5 5 8

Healthy Tip # 3:  Read nutrition label to choose healthier products

Healthy Tips # 4: Choose Nutritious Gifts for Your Family and FriendsLunar New Year’s gifts such as cookies, egg rolls, candy, and chocolate are all high-calorie foods. However, as most of the time it cannot be finished due to excessive amount or their short shelve life, many foods would be wasted.  It is recommended to choose healthier or foods with longer shelves life; so that your family and friends can consume less unhealthy foods yet reducing food waste.Some of the healthy gifts include tea leaves, fresh fruit, dried seafood (such as dried scallops, dried shrimps, sea cucumber, fish maw and abalone), non-fried Chinese noodle (such as shrimp noodles, abalone noodles) and dried fruits (such as dried longan, dried wolfberry, dried red dates), snow fungus, dried Shitake mushroom and unsalted assorted nut gift box.  Other more interesting alternatives include instant heathy drinks powders such as sugar-free sesame powder, almond powder, and organic soy milk powder. Nevertheless, a bottle of virgin olive oil, aged balsamic vinegar and honey are some of the choices that can also be packaged into Lunar New Year’s gift boxes. All of these can make your family happy and healthy during the holidays.

Written by: Ms. Sylvia Lam Accredited Practising Dietitian (DAA Australia) Accredited Dietitian (Hong Kong Dietitians Association)

  Low (per 100g) – choose more High (per 100g) – choose less
Sugar Contains or less than 5 g sugar Contains or more than 20 g sugar
Total Fat Contains or less than 3 g fat (solid foods)

Contains or less than 1.5g fat (liquid foods)

Contains or more than 15 g fat (solid foods)

Contains or more than 7.5g fat (liquid foods)

Sodium Contains or less than 120 mg sodium Contains or more than 600 mg sodium