The Singapore Diet – A Guide to Healthy Eating

Singapore diet

Diet is one of the biggest contributors to chronic diseases like heart disease and diabetes, yet despite health awareness campaigns many Singaporeans still consume unhealthy levels of salt and sugar in their diets.

Consumption of certain processed food groups varies with housing type, which acts as an indirect proxy for socioeconomic status (SES). For instance, milk product consumption correlates with household income and educational attainment.

Foods to Avoid

Altering one’s diet may seem daunting at first glance, but for many it is an integral component of leading a long and healthy life in retirement.

According to the 2020 National Population Health Survey, high consumption levels of processed food is linked with lower socioeconomic status and an unfavorable diet – particularly amongst those whose highest education qualification is primary school or lower. This phenomenon is especially evident amongst primary school-educated individuals.

Although Singapore cuisine has become more appealing to foreigners, some local dishes may contain high levels of sodium and saturated fats. Examples include laksa lemak – a Peranakan dish of noodles and fried bean curd in a rich coconut sauce with fish, shrimp and cockles; and kari debal, an Eurasian curry made by stewing red snapper head with cabbage, sausage pieces and bacon pieces before being served alongside rice or bread as an entree dish.

Though Singaporean diets have improved significantly over time, as more Singaporeans recognize the value of eating well-balanced meals such as 27-year-old Daniel Tan’s, who dines at local hawker centres and restaurants several times each week but requests healthier options like chicken rice instead of the standard fare; also regularly incorporating protein, vegetables and whole grains into his meals.

Foods to Enjoy

Singapore cuisine can include unhealthy options, as with any country’s. But its island nation culture of hawker food stands out, with locals enjoying tasty chicken rice, fried fish balls and kaya toast for breakfast as favorites.

Try nasi lemak for lunch or dinner: an irresistibly rich Malay-Chinese culinary creation consisting of coconut rice topped with small fried anchovies (ikan bilis), roasted peanuts, cucumber slices and hard-boiled egg. Pair it with either sambal sotong (cuttlefish in chili sauce) or ayam goreng (fried chicken).

Also delicious is Teochew or Singapore-style congee, a savory rice porridge served alongside various Singapore side dishes such as Lor Bak, Steamed Fish, Salted Eggs, Tofus and Omelettes. And for dessert: cendol is an unforgettable Southeast Asian delicacy featuring green jelly “worms” made from rice flour mixed with palm sugar and coconut milk served on shaved ice – this treat can be found at many Singapore hawker centers or coffee shops!

Foods to Eat

Singaporeans tend to eat at hawker centers that offer affordable yet tasty cuisine. Although their menus feature healthier options like fish cakes and tofu, such foods tend to be high in salt, sugar and fat content. Furthermore, many meals served through these services utilize processed sauces that contribute further to high sodium and sugar intake among their patrons.

One of the signature dishes of Singapore cuisine is roti prata, consisting of fried stretched dough flavored with Indian clarified butter known as ghee and served both for breakfast and supper, often filled with curry or other fillings.

Rojak, an Indonesian dish popular in Malaysia and Singapore, features a colorful assortment of fresh cucumber, pineapple and unripe mango in a salad form, along with dough fritters covered in sweet-sour black sauce made of fermented prawn paste, sugar and chili.

Popular Hawker fare includes: Char kway teow is an easy way to customize a stir-fried noodle dish, perfect for adding fishcake, shrimp and more, such as Chinese sausage slices, bean sprouts and pork lard; pecel lele is fried catfish served with chilli paste; soto ayam is an aromatic chicken soup; while for dessert try cendol; this exotic treat features green jelly “worms” served on top of coconut milk shaved ice.

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