How Healthy is Your Nasi Lemak?
Published | 4 min read
Nasi lemak is one of Malaysia’s most popular dishes. It’s also believed to be unhealthy, especially if you eat it on a regular basis.
Alas, opinions are divisive about whether nasi lemak is
Nasi Lemak: Good or Bad, that is the Question
In 2016, TIME magazine listed nasi lemak as one of ten most healthy international breakfasts. Questions were raised about the high-fat content of the dishes’ coconut rice, but the magazine believes that “it’s balanced with lots of manganese, protein and
A regular plate of nasi lemak with a boiled egg has approximately 494 calories, 13 grams of protein, 14 grams of fat and 80 grams of carbohydrates, according to website fitivate.com.
Eating nasi lemak on a regular basis will put an additional strain on your cardiovascular system (blood, heart and blood vessels) and cerebrovascular system (blood vessels that transport blood to and from the brain). It can also elevate blood pressure, increasing your vulnerability to conditions such as:
- Heart disease
- Vascular occlusion – blockage of, or clotting in a blood vessel
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that because of Malaysia’s hot and humid weather, the frequent consumption of nasi lemak can
“The Spleen and Stomach are responsible for digesting food and absorbing nutrients, transforming them into blood and qi, and transporting them throughout the body,” explains Eu Yan Sang Physician Sam Ng Teck Xian. Impairment of Spleen and Stomach functions can manifest as
Balanced Eating the Malaysian Way
According to the guidelines of the Healthy Eating Plate, a nutritionally-balanced meal consists of:
- Half a plate
offruits and vegetables
- A quarter of a plate
- A quarter of a plate
comprisinga protein-rich food
Aim for colours and varieties when choosing your fruits and vegetables. Limit your consumption of potatoes as they can elevate blood sugar levels. Whole and intact grains, such as whole wheat, barley, quinoa, and oats have a better effect on blood sugar than white bread and rice, and other refined grains. Meanwhile, fish, poultry, nuts and beans are a leaner source of protein than red meat, but red meat has a higher quantity of nutrients.
Nasi lemak is a popular meal choice for all times of the day but might not be the healthiest. You can choose alternatives such as high-protein
A healthier version of nasi lemak is a viable breakfast option, too. Swap the coconut milk for virgin coconut oil to retain the rice’s nutty flavour, and cook anchovies in a microwave or air fryer instead of deep-frying them. Replace white sugar and cooking oil with brown sugar and olive oil when preparing the sambal. Baking chicken marinated with salt, yoghurt, and turmeric can also give it a crunchy texture.
Nasi kerabu is another healthy lunch alternative made up of fresh vegetables, grilled or steamed fish, boiled egg, and butterfly pea flower rice. Another protein-rich option is ikan bakar – a marinated white fish flame-grilled on a banana leaf – which is a staple in Malaysian cuisine and a suitable meal choice for dinner.
Supplements to Maintain Digestive Health
You may also consider using health supplements to address Spleen and stomach-related imbalances and improve your appetite. A multi-grain meal that contains ingredients like flaxseeds (ya ma zi, 亚麻子) and red sage (dan shen, 丹參) can boost vitality and maintain vascular health. In addition, a multi-grain meal that’s formulated using Chinese yam (huai shan, 淮山) and
It’s understandable that you may give in to a craving for nasi lemak every now and then but do so consciously. In other words, be mindful of how frequently you’re eating it and make healthier choices where possible. Do speak to a licensed TCM practitioner if you’re looking to use
- The Straits Times. 2016. Nasi lemak a healthy breakfast? Yes, says Time Magazine. [online] [Accessed 30 June 2022]
- Harvard T.H. Chan. Healthy Eating Plate. [online] [Accessed 30 June 2022]
- International Citizens.com. Eating Healthy – A Guide For Expats in Malaysia. [online] [Accessed 30 June 2022]
- FITDAY. White Meat vs. Red Meat. [online] [Accessed 30 June 2022]
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