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Eat healthy without breaking the bank

New Straits Times logo New Straits Times 22/1/2019

Making smart and informed decisions on food leads to better food choices

THERE is a growing awareness that being overweight and obese can increase the risk of health problems, such as diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Adopting a healthy eating lifestyle is vital to keep our weight in check to guard our health.

With increasing demand for healthy food, it is common to see foods labelled as superfood, natural or organic. These foods carry a premium price. Studies also corroborate the fact that consumers tend to associate healthier food with higher prices.

But is healthy eating a luxury? In reality, healthy eating need not be an expensive affair.

Goo Chui Hoong, a dietician who is collaborating with Beko, the home appliances brand on a mission to raise awareness on childhood obesity via the Beko #EatLikeAPro global campaign, says eating healthy is affordable.

Fresh vegetables and fruits are readily available and cheap. Eggs, tofu, tempeh and beans are inexpensive sources of protein.

“You do not need to buy fancy products to eat healthy. Simple, basic local foods are all you need.”


Organic foods tend to be priced higher than non-organic equivalents. However, there is little evidence to support the fact that it has more nutrients compared to non-organic selections. A few studies have reported that organic produce have lower levels of pesticide residue. One way to counter this problem is ensure you rinse your non-organic vegetables and fruits thoroughly.

Berries, salmon, kale and acai are just a few examples of food that have garnered the "superfood" label. According to Goo, most dieticians and nutrition experts do not use the term superfood and deemed it as a marketing term. There is no set criteria for determining a food as a superfood by regulatory authorities in major consumer markets, such as the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Department of Agriculture or the European Food Safety Authority.

Goo says there is a variety of food in our market that is loaded with nutrients even if it doesn’t have the superfood label and this includes fruits, vegetables, grains and fish. For example, tomatoes are a good source of antioxidants and vitamins.

“The key to healthy eating is to consume a variety of nutritious food and not a particular superfood. You do not need to buy imported foods such as quinoa or berries to eat healthy. Local wholegrain rice, fruits and vegetables are very reasonably priced and packed with nutrients.”

Goo adds that the plate model is a simple guide to a healthy meal. Fill half of your plate with vegetables and fruits, a quarter of your plate with grains such as brown rice, oats or barley and the other quarter filled with protein such as fish, chicken or even eggs.

Sugared drinks and sweetened drinks can be eliminated from your food budget as they do not contribute any nutrients.

a woman standing in a kitchen: We can improve our eating habits by making smart and informed choices on food. © Provided by Media Prima We can improve our eating habits by making smart and informed choices on food.

A healthier alternative is to drink water with a slice of lemon or cucumber to jazz up your beverage.

Being health conscious and adopting a healthy eating lifestyle need not be an expensive affair. We can improve our eating habits by making smart and informed choices on food.

Beko has launched an informative website to support parents in feeding their children healthy food by showing what the top FC Barcelona football players eat to play at their best. The website also features a spin and cook wheel with choices of healthy recipes. All these can be accessed at

© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd

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