Wed, Jan 04, 2012 - Page 2 News List

New Year gift boxes are fattening, survey finds

HOLIDAY TREATS:The survey found that the most popular gift foods were fatty, and said that tea, coffee and whole grains were healthier

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff Reporter

A representative of Common Health Magazine in Taipei yesterday sits behind an assortment of fattening festive foods and explains how to determine whether a particular kind of food has excessive calories.

Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times

As the Lunar New Year holiday approaches, many Taiwanese are preparing to buy local specialty foods to give to friends and relatives, but eggrolls, preserved meat, scallop XO sauce and many other common food gifts are very fattening, a survey released yesterday shows.

The survey, conducted by Common Health Magazine, investigated 66 types of common New Year gift boxes and compiled a list of 10 common fattening gift food choices: butter shortbread, eggrolls, sausages, minced pork, preserved meat, scallop XO sauce, nougat, cream puffs, square cookies and chocolate with nuts.

Early last month, the Taipei City Office of Commerce (TCOOC) revealed that pastries and desserts were most favored by consumers choosing local specialties as gifts, while nuts and snacks, as well as nutritional supplements, came in at second and third, an Internet survey it conducted of 2,473 consumers showed.

Liu Chin-yu (劉沁瑜), assistant professor of Fu Jen Catholic University’s department of nutritional science, said many pastries consist mainly of starch and oil.

It is unhealthy to ingest an excessive amount of calories derived from fat. However, according to the survey result, up to 70 percent of the pastries in examined gift boxes derive more than 30 percent of their calories from fat.

The survey also found that the ingredients of scallop XO sauce are soaked in oil, so for every 100g of sauce (450 calories), about 360 calories are from fat, and some preserved meat derived about 72.4 percent of their calories from fat.

“It is better to steam or bake processed meat, instead of frying it, to reduce the calorie intake,” Liu said.

“High-calorie pastries should be eaten in the morning, instead of being a part of afternoon tea or midnight snacks, because the body has more time to metabolize the calories during the day,” Liu added.

Common Health suggested that consumers choose healthier gift boxes, such as tea, coffee, whole grain products, vegetables, unseasoned nuts and other low calorie food.

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