What can be more iconic for Mid-autumn Festival than mooncakes? They truly bring pleasure to our taste buds but also some side effects to our health if we eat too much - as they are high in calorie, sugar and fat. However, if you choose and eat right, you can still enjoy this annual delicacy while avoiding the health trap.
1 mooncake equals to 3 bowls of rice?
The Department of Dietetics, Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital, once compared different mooncakes on the market and found out that traditional mooncakes are the most fattening of all¹ – the lotus paste is seasoned with a great amount of oil and sugar, and the lard, another main ingredient, is full of saturated fat. For the salted egg yolks, they have a high content of oil and are also high in cholesterol. So it’s not surprising that a traditional mooncake with 2 egg yolks contains up to 776kcal, which is 3 times that of a bowl of rice (260kcal)² or half of the recommended daily calorie consumption of a grown-up female. If a person of 60kg finishes this mooncake, he or she has to run for about 93 minutes at the speed of 8 miles per hour to burn the calories gained³.
What about the mini egg custard mooncakes then? Each of them contains 190kcal which is about ¾ of a bowl of rice. Not as light as you thought, isn’t it? In addition, we should be aware that the lava custard mooncakes which have become popular these years are another health trap as they contain more butter, cream and custard. For ice-cream mooncakes, a chocolate-flavoured one for example, contains similar amount of calories as a traditional mooncake and is more fattening if marshmallow, nuts and other ingredients are included.
How to choose and eat healthily?
A mini snowy mooncake is just 1/3 the size of a traditional mooncake and the skin is made of glutinous rice flour with bean paste stuffing. It only contains 170-230kcal and is a healthier choice amongst different types of mooncakes.
But dietitians remind us that we may overeat as the size of mini snowy mooncakes makes them look less hazardous to our health. What’s more, if they have sweetened fruit stuffing, they may boost glycemic index (GI) and diabetics should be more cautious. For snowy mooncakes with yogurt stuffing, the cream increases the level of fat contained. To conclude, snowy mooncakes stuffed with green or red bean paste are a healthier choice.
New types of mooncakes that claim to be healthier
There are more and more different mooncakes that claim to be a healthier choice. Low-sugar mooncakes are one of them. They are made with substitute sweeteners, such as hydrogenated glucose syrup or maltitol syrup, which are suitable for people concerned about blood sugar level due to their low-GI nature. But that doesn’t mean they contain less oil and could still be fattening if we eat too much.
Some may think tea mooncakes, which sound refreshing, are healthier. In fact, they are just added with green tea or earl grey to give the tea flavour and still contain high-sugar and high-fat ingredients. Vegetarian mooncakes, on the other hand, are free of lard or egg yolks and do contain far less cholesterol. However, those ingredients are only replaced by vegetable oil which is also high in fat and calorie.
All in all, it’s advised to check the ingredients and nutrition labels when buying mooncakes and choose those that contain fewer calories, and less fat and sugar.
Eat without gaining weight
Besides knowing how to choose your mooncakes, keep the following 3 tips in mind to maintain your weight after eating:
- Avoid eating in the morning with an empty stomach or after dinner. The former would boost blood sugar level and the latter would lead to weight gain as there’s not enough time to burn the calories consumed before bedtime. Tea time is the suggested period to eat mooncakes in a controlled manner.
- Eat 3 times a week at most, maximum ¼ of a traditional mooncake or half of a snowy mooncake at a time.
- Avoid consuming other high-fat or high-sugar food, or sweetened drinks on the same day, and consume more food containing soluble fibre, such as cereal, yuzu and dragon fruit, to control GI and block out low-density lipoprotein or bad cholesterol.
You may also drink tea while eating mooncakes to wash away the sense of satiety but it wouldn’t cut down on the amount of calorie, fat or sugar consumed. Last but not least, “eat in quality and not quantity” is always the principle for a healthy lifestyle, whether during Mid-autumn Festival or on any other day of the year!
Source: Yahoo Hong Kong x AXA LIVE/LIFE website
¹ Source from Eastweek.com.hk (Available in Chinese version only)
² Facts about Calorie and Energy
³ Leisure and Cultural Services Department: Health Exercise for All Campaign – Get active and enjoy a healthy life
⁴ Integrated source: HK01, Leisure and Cultural Services Department