Addressing the Malaysian unhealthy eating habit
By Syed Zaid
Living in Malaysia, we are constantly surrounded by food haven after food haven. We are never short on local food options to indulge in. Needless to say, this leads to a plethora of food-related diseases such as hypertension and obesity among other chronic ailments.
According to Zalma Abdul Razak, the Director of Nutrition Division for the Ministry of Health; “We are in a crisis. We bare the double burden of nutrition meaning that some of us are over-eating which leads to diabetes and some of us are under eating causing us to be malnourished – for example, stunted growth in our children.”
When we were young, our parents were the most active advocate in eating vegetables. However, we seem to lose the habit as we grow older. The director says that only 10 percent of our population consume sufficient amount of fruits and vegetable in their daily intake. “This can be caused by many factors. Maybe fruits and vegetables are expensive to some of us or maybe it’s not as accessible as we made it seem to be,” she says.
In addition, some malnutrition comes from our bad eating habit. While some have the fear of cholesterols, some have love that goes as deep as the deep fryer – consuming deep fried food on a daily basis. In fact, a lot of our traditional ‘kuihs’ are made in a deep fryer.
For deep frying
Up until now, palm oil is considered the best oil to use for deep frying. “If we’re preparing something that is deep fried, we should always use palm oil. It is the most stable oil at high temperature and it doesn’t oxidise as easily as other types of oil.”
She continues: “In comparison, we should always increase the intake of our vegetable and fruits but we shouldn’t forget fat in our daily intake. Certain vitamins like the A, D, E and K can only be found in oil. In addition, fat provides us the energy to go through our day. We should definitely reduce our fat intake but avoiding oil can do more harm than good.”
The red one is even better
“Red palm oil is high in antioxidants, carotenes and Vitamin E tocotrienols that cannot be found in other type of oils. It can be taken as a supplement. If we’re not comfortable with eating it out of a spoon, it can be added to our salad, or porridge to ease in with the consumption. As a matter of fact, we use red palm oil as a supplement for the malnourished children in Malaysia as it has a high vitamin count,” she says.
“Red palm oil is high in antioxidants, carotenes and Vitamin E tocotrienols that cannot be found in other type of oils. It can be taken as a supplement.”
– Zalma Abdul Razak
A message from the heart
The director says that diabetes and obesity are the driving factors to heart diseases. The Ministry of Health launched the ‘Suku, suku, separuh’ campaign last year. This was part of their initiative to help the nation control their portion. The aim is to instil a healthier eating habit on a plate – the quarters are allocated for carbohydrate and protein whereas the other half is to be filled with fruits and various types of vegetable. “All is good in moderation,” says Zalma in finality. — The Health Plus