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Ask the Dietitian is not a substitute for a consultation with a professional who can inform you of all the facts of your particular situation. We answer questions in general terms only, to give you information that may used as a starting point.
TOPIC - Food
Question
I used buy low fat and high calcium milk to drink everyday. Recently, I started to drink fresh milk instead. I understand that the calorie content in fresh milk is much higher but I prefer the taste. I would like to ask which is nutritionally better?
Answer
Full cream (fresh) milk has a much higher fat content than the low-fat milk; it has about 4% fat while low fat milk has only half that (2%) and skim or non-fat milk has only 0.1% fat. This means that fresh milk has 60 calories more per cup (190 cal per cup) than low fat milk (130 cal per cup) and 110 cal more more than non-fat milk (80 cal per cup).
The HL milk also contains a higher amount of calcium compared to regular milk - regular milk has about 290 mg calcium per cup and high calcium milk has about 350-500 mg per cup depending on the brand. For other nutrients such as protein, vitamins and minerals, both milk contains about the same amount, thus they are nutritionally similar (except for fat & calcium).

We encourage drinking low fat milk as milk fat is mostly saturated, which can potentially clog up blood vessels in our body. The additional calories in fresh milk can also add up quickly - if you drink 2 cups of full cream milk per day, you could gain 1 extra pound in just one month.
Question
My sister feeds my nephew hot dogs constantly. He is two and a half, and I would like some information on how unhealthy hot dogs can be.
Answer
The problem with hot dogs is that they are extremely high in fat - up to 82% in fat by calories. "The average 1.6 ounce hot dog is about 150 calories, and contains about 13 grams of fat and 450 milligrams of sodium", according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council. Saturated fat make up about 5 grams of the total fat content. If your sister would like to continue giving hot dogs as part of a nutritionally balanced diet for your nephew, she may want to choose lower fat options such as reduced fat or fat free versions; chicken or turkey dogs which run about 115 cal and 9 grams of fat; and veggie or tofu dogs which has 115 cal and 6 grams of fat.

The other reason that some people find hot dogs objectionable is that most of them contain "variety meat" or "meat by-products" such as liver, kidneys, ground up bone, fat & skin. These will be labelled as such in the ingredient listing.
Question
Is unsweetened black herbal jelly (liang fen) high in calories?
Answer
The calorie content in 1 bowl of herbal jelly is 71 cal (you can find this in the Dining Out section), although this is probably sweetened. Thus unsweetened herbal jelly will be less than 70 calories per bowl which is low in calories in comparison with other desserts.
Question
What are isoflavones?
Answer
Isoflavones are a type of phytoestrogen, compounds that have weak estrogenic activity. Isoflavones have been in the news a lot lately, some research suggest that it may offer a number of health benefits related to heart disease, osteoporosis, menopause symptom relief and possibly cancer. For post-menopausal women experiencing hot flashes, the weak estrogenic effects of isoflavones seems to help to relieve these symptoms.

Isoflavones are found in chick peas and legumes. Soybeans has the most concentrated amount of isoflavones, and thus has had the most research on it. Isoflavones, unlike some vitamins, are fairly stable - under normal home or institutional cooking methods, they are not destroyed.

Optimal isoflavone intake to prevent or treat specific diseases is not known. At this time, overall health benefits of isoflavones as well as other phytochemicals are best met by eating a varied diet from all food groups, built upon a foundation of one serving of soy food with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and other protein foods each day.
Question
What is Sugar Alcohol? I bought a protein bar and it says it has 1 gram of Sugar and 19 grams of this.
Answer
Sugar alcohol, like sorbitol, mannitol and xylitol, are used calorie-reduced alternative to sugar. It is not calorie free, however, for example sorbitol contains 2.6 calories per gram. Sugar alcohol do not promote tooth decay, making it a good sweetener in chewing gums and candies. They are categorized as GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Question
What is the difference between wheat flour and plain flour? Is their taste different? Can I subsitute plain flour with wheat flour without changing the taste of the dish?
Answer
Plain flour is milled from wheat flour and is processed so that the husk & bran of the wheat is removed giving its white appearance. If the wheat flour you have is fine in texture and white in appearance, you can use it in place of plain flour. However, if you have whole wheat flour, it will be a darker colour as the husk and bran of the grain are not removed. If you use it in place of plain flour, it will give your final product a heavier, coarser texture, and a nutty taste from the bran. It will also have the added benefit of being high in fibre.
Question
What is the nutrition value of a avocado fruit? Does it contain cholesterol?
Answer
A medium size (175 gram) avocado contains about 300 calories, has moderate amount of carbohydrate (12 grams) and a large quantity of fat (30 grams). It contains a fair amount of dietary fibre (8.5 grams) and NO cholesterol. Remember cholesterol is only found in animal products, plants do not make cholesterol. Thus fruits and vegetables do not contain cholesterol although some of them may contain fat, such as avocado and coconut.
Question
What is the calorie for 1 tea bag as well as coffee?
Answer
Tea (tea leaves or teabags) and coffee (instant powder or brewed from beans) by themselves without any added milk, creamer or sugar has zero calories. Just be very careful to check that the ingredient content to see that sugar or creamer have not been added to ready-to-use tea or coffee packets if you are concerned about their calorie content.
Question
May I know what is evaporated skim milk?
Answer
Evaporated milk is milk that has had 50% of its water removed and sold as a liquid in cans. Evaporated skim milk starts out with skim milk (which has only 0.5% fat) and then the water is removed from it leaving a concentrated milk product that is low in fat. In comparison, the regular evaporated milk (which is made from whole milk) has up to 13% fat in it. Thus if you are looking for a low-fat milk product to cook with (ie. make curries) or to add to your coffee, evaporated skim milk is a good choice.
I am only aware of Carnation brand that makes evaporated skim milk in Singapore.
Question
I have been eating 8 eggs daily for the past few months. Is this ok for an active individual who exercises daily? The yolk has a lot of vitamins and minerals to replenish my body, while the white provides protein for repair. But I am slightly concern about the cholesterol in yolk.
Answer
Eggs provide high quality protein, however, they are not the only food source. Other good sources include lean meats, fish, poultry and dairy products. In terms of vitamins and minerals, fruits, vegetables and whole grain products are rich sources. So if you are concerned about getting enough vitamins, minerals and protein, you should include all of the above. In addition, you should be eating a variety of foods for a well-balanced diet. One food item alone cannot provide you with all the nutrients you need.

You are getting a high amount of cholesterol in the 2 yolks that you eat daily - about 500 mg per day (250 mg per yolk). The Dietary Guidelines for Singapore recommends that we limit our cholesterol intake to no more than 300 mg per day. I suggest that you limit your egg intake to no more than one yolk per day (egg whites are not a problem) and include other food following guidelines from the Healthy Diet Pyramid.
Question
Is half boiled egg high in calories?
Answer
One large egg has about 75 calories and 200 mg of cholesterol. If it is half boiled, there is no additional calories or fat added to it. If you fry it, count another 25-50 calories for the added fat.
Question
I would like to know if drinking milk bubble tea is harmful to health and how much calories does each cup contains. Is the pearls in the bubble tea high in calories?
Answer
Most bubble tea, also known as pearl tea, tapioca tea, boba, milk tea and zhen zhu nai cha, contains brewed black or green tea, tapioca pearls, milk and honey or sugar. Some of them are blended with fruit juice and other flavourings as well. I do not see that any of the above ingredients being harmful as long as they were handled hygienically.

The amount of calories will depend the size of your cup and also the type of milk bubble tea you order. One source gives the calories for a basic milk bubble tea with tapioca pearls at about 360 calories per 16 oz cup. Rumour has it that 7 pearls are about 100 calories and there are about 30 pearls in a drink. That makes each serving of bubble tea fairly high in calories when you compare it to a cup of regular milk tea which is only 60 calories per cup!
Question
I like to eat peanuts a lot, are peanuts low in fat and high in cholesterol?
Answer
Peanuts are very high in fat per serving as are most nuts, although they do not contain any cholesterol since they are plant products. Cholesterol is found only in foods from animal product such as meat, eggs, dairy products, butter, etc.
Dry-roasted peanuts have about 585 calories and 50 grams fat per 100 grams - that makes it 77% of the calories is from fat! If you eat a lot of peanuts, you should be aware that you are consuming a lot of fat as well.
Question
I'm constantly getting hungry after about 3 hours after each meal although I've 3 main meals. I realised that food that are high in fats content will put my hunger away longer. How can I cut down my calories or eat less without always feeling hungry?
Answer
Being hungry 3 hours after you last ate is farily normal. If you would like to go longer between meals, you may add some protein foods to your meals such as having a boiled egg or peanut butter with your bread instead of just plain bread at breakfast. Protein foods take longer to digest than carbohydrate, so it will keep you full longer. Also taking high fibre foods delays gastric (stomach) emptying, so have wholemeal bread instead of white bread or if you really don't like wholemeal bread, try high fibre white bread. Fat does keep you full longer (ie. it has a high satiety value), but too much fat is not healthy. Protein foods will do the same, plus most protein food contain fat as well.

If you are hungry between meals, you can have a low calorie snack such as a piece of fruit or soda crackers or pretzels. It will keep you going to the next meal and does not contribute that many calories.
Question
How many calories are there in a piece of bar guan-festive bbq pork? I am also curious about the nutrition in durians.
Answer
I am not familiar with the product you are asking about. Here are some alternatives that may give you an idea of the caloric content in similar foods.

Bak kwa, pork - 400 calories per 100 grams [one piece is approximately 50-60 g]
Pork Floss - 390 calories per 100 grams [one cup (250 ml) is approximately 70 grams]
Barbequed Pork (char siew) - 250 calories per 100 grams

Nutritional content of durian per 100 grams (about 3 fruits with seed) are as follows: 150 calories, 3 grams of protein, 3.5 grams of fat, 28 grams of carbohydrate, less than 1 gram fibre. Durian is one of the few fruits that has a high fat content, so it should be eaten in moderation.
Question
I am trying to lose weight. I take oatmeal (Quakers) in place of rice. Will this diet work?
Answer
1 cup of cooked oatmeal has about 145 calories while 1 cup of cooked rice has about 200 calories. You save about 50 calories per cup. Whether eating one over the other will help you lose weight depends on how much oatmeal you eat relative to rice. For every 3500 calories you reduce, you should lose 0.5 kg.

Keep in mind that it is not just rice you should be concerned with if you are trying to lose weight, you need to look at the rest of your diet too. Cut back on overall portions, as well as high fat and high sugar foods.
Question
When we feel hungry, does it mean that we have used up the food that we have consumed?
Answer
Hunger is triggered by the release of hormones to our brain telling it that the blood sugar level is dropping. This happens when most of the glycogen (glucose) stored in our liver (& to a lesser extent in the muscle) is used up. That does not mean that ALL the food we have consumed previously has been used up. Some of the food such as proteins, vitamins & minerals are absorbed by the body to replace daily needs. Other nutrients such as carbohydrate is broken down and used for energy. It also replaces any glycogen, which is a form of stored quick energy, in the liver & muscle that has been used up. However, because we have limited capacity to store glycogen in our body, the remaining (or excess) energy is converted to fat and stored.

So the short answer to your question is: No, hunger is not an indication that you have used up all the food you have consumed, but rather that your quick-energy stores are depleted and your blood sugar is dropping and need re-fuelling.
Question
Is it true that we can reduce weight by cutting down our rice portion?
Answer
Rice is a carbohydrate (or starch) like bread, noodles, cereal, pasta and other grains. They are burned in our body to provide us energy for daily living. As well they provide us with some vitamins, minerals and fibre especially if they are wholegrain or unprocessed (like wholemeal or multigrain bread, brown rice, bran cereal).
Rice & other starches, without added fats, are not very high calories -- about 200 calories per cup (250 ml) of cooked rice. If you fry the rice/noodle or add butter to bread, the calories almost doubles. So if you are trying to reduce weight, you would look at your overall diet. If you are eating a lot of rice, you can cut back on the quantity. However, you would not reducing your caloric intake if you increase your meat intake as a result. Generally cut back on the amount of food that you eat, plus have less fried and high-fat food. Also do some activity 3-4 times per week to burn extra calories.
Question
How much calories are there in a cup of tea or coffee with creamer and sugar ?
Answer
If you are taking 3-in-1 coffee or tea, it is approximately 58-65 calories per sachet with 3 grams total fat of which 2 grams is saturated fat. If you add sugar & creamer to your coffee and tea, each level teaspoon of sugar is 16 calories and powdered creamer is 11 calories per level teaspoon, 60% of the calories from fat. So if you put 2 level teaspoons each of sugar and creamer in a cup of coffee/tea, it will have 54 calories per cup.


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