The Department of Health’s (DOH) Bureau of Health Promotion yesterday said people should pay attention to the extra calories they consume when eating yuan xiao (元宵) — glutinous rice balls with flavored fillings — during Lantern Festival today, reminding the public that four yuan xiao are the equivalent of about 300 calories.
According to data from the Greater Kaohsiung Department of Health, 300 calories is about the calorific intake of a bowl of white rice or two pieces of toast.
On average, one has to walk about 10,000 steps at 4kph to lose 300 calories, the bureau said.
“Sweet yuan xiao are often filled with peanut or sesame paste, which are high-calorie ingredients containing a great deal of sugar and fat,” the bureau said.
Consumers are advised to pay close attention to the nutritional facts on the label when purchasing yuan xiao.
One health suggestion is replacing sweet yuan xiao for those with a meat filling. Other alternatives include reducing the amount of staple foodstuff consumed or adding vegetables to the soup to ensure an adequate intake of cellulose.
The bureau also warned that glutinous rice balls can be hard to digest and so are best eaten in bite-size portions. This also prevents choking, which is a potential hazard for seniors and young children.
Those who suffer from chronic disease such as diabetes, high cholesterol or high triglyceride, or who are overweight should consume fewer yuan xiao during Lantern Festival, the bureau said.