[COLUMN] Filipino diet: Healthy?

TODAY, more than ever, people are more health conscious, and since food greatly impacts our health, we are interested to know if the food we eat is healthy and how many calories are in the food we eat.

In general, the average calorie requirement per day ranges between 1500 to 2000, but those who are overweight could reduce this to 1000 calories a day, under a physician’s advice. Diabetics have their own calculated calorie-intake. Eating 500 calories more a day (in excess of the Total Calorie Requirement -TRC) will make a person gain one pound in a week, and, conversely, eating 500 calories less than the TCR per day will reduce one pound from the person’s body weight in a week. Pushing ourselves away from the dining table less than full is a great strategy, for health and longevity.

The average calories burned in 30 minutes for any of these activities are as follows: Sleeping, 35; typing on computer, 50; ironing, 63; cooking, 86; light housework, 115; mopping floor, 119; shopping, 102; fishing, 119; climbing hills (no load), 232; walking slowly, 106; walking briskly, 120; running slowly, 280; running fast, 384; jogging, 215; cycling, 123; swimming, 311; ballroom dancing, 98; aerobic dancing, 198; volleyball, 96; football, 253; basketball, 265; golf, 140; tennis, 209; and, badminton, 186. Foreplay in sex for 15 minutes, burns about 22.5 calories and actual sexual intercourse for 15 minutes, 67.5 calories (a total of only 90 calories for the entire activity, believe it or not!).

Most of the available information today on calories in the different food items pertains to western and European food varieties. In the Abbott Club Red publication, we found interesting data on calorie counts for various Filipino foods, delicacies, and drinks.

The following vegetables yield about 16 calories per cup or 90 g (cooked): Ampalaya fruit, ampalaya leaves, Baguio beans, banana heart, cabbage, cauliflower, chayote fruit or leaves, eggplant, kangkong, malunggay leaves, mushroom, okra, patola, onion bulb, petsay, saluyot, and upo. Half cup of the following also provides 16 calories: coconut shoot (ubod), Mungbean sprout (togue), sitaw, canned green peas, sweet corn, tomato juice.

The fruits listed here give 40 calories: Apple (1/2), atis (1 fruit), lakatan, latundan banana and chico, per piece; dalanghita (2); duhat (20 pieces); durian (30 g); grapes (10); guava (2); guyabano (1 slice); langka (40 g); lansones 97); mangosteen (3); melon (1 slice); papaya (1 slice); pineapple (1 slice); rambutan (8); santol (1); sinkamas (1/2, 110g); suha (3 segments); watermelon (1 slice); star apple (1/2), buko water (1 cup); banana-que (1/2); mango chips (2); maruya (1/4); turon (1/2).

Thirty grams of the following provide 41 calories: Tenderloin, porterhouse, shank, sirloin, shoulder, rump, chicken leg, breast (1/4), meat internal organs (3/4 cups); 1 slice of bangus, lapulapu, dalag, etc; bacon (1 slice) is 45 calories. And so with ½ avocado, a teaspoon of peanut butter, 5 pieces of pili nut, or a teaspoon of peanut or olive oil.

Rice and rice products (the infamous carb) contain very high calories, 100 for each of the following: Rice (1/2 cup); lugaw (1.5 cup); bibingka galapong (1 slice); malagkit (1 slice); biko (1 slice); cassava cake (1/2 slice); espasol  (2); kalamay, latik (1); kutsinta (1); palitaw, no coconut gratings (4); puto bumbong (2); sapin-sapin (1 slice); tikoy (1 slice); pan de sal (3); lady fingers (5); mamon tostado 93); hopia hapon (1.5); ensaymada (1); bihon, sotanghon, (each, 1 cup); kamote (1/2) ubi (1.3 cups); kastanyas (11 pieces); and, sago (1/2 cup).

Table sugar, one teaspoon, 20 calories; and so with the following: Taho with syrup and sago (1/4 cup); ube halaya (1 teaspoon); and yema (1). Halo-halo (2.3 cups) has 80 calories and polvoron (1), 40 calories.

Each of the following carbos has 145 calories: Buko pie  (½ slice); bitso-bitso (1); hopia, baboy (1); hot cakes (1); fruit cake (1 slice); chocolate cake (1 slice); Spanish bread (1); cinnamon roll (1).  One half donut has 190 calories; croissant, 235; muffin, 290; éclair, 212, century egg, 135; embotido, 2.5 pieces, 187 calories.

As for menu dishes, ½ cup adobong baboy, 302 calories; 1 cup callos, 260;  1 cup dinuguan, 124; ½ cup kare kare, 103; ½ cup kilawin, 113; litsong baboy (50 g) 273; lumpia fresh with sauce, 273; lumpia with peanut sauce, 403; 2/3 cup of menudo, 144; okoy with tagunton, 184; and, pochero, 1 cup, 282.

Alcoholic drinks: Pure water, zero; beer, 11 oz, 163 calories; cognac, 75; gin, dry, 107 per jigger; Ginebra, one bottle, 832; martini, 143; whiskey, 107; wine, red, 73 a glass; white, 85; champagne, 85. All soft drinks are unhealthy, harmful to our body. Processed foods increase the risk for cancer.

Daily physical exercise and calorie-counting are vital to our health and well-being. In general, the way we eat as a nation, our native diet is not healthy as it can be. For those who are health-conscious, the Filipino food could be made healthy. Eliminating rice in our diet, or cutting it down to half a cup or less, instead of 2 cups of cooked rice, would be a good start. While brown rice is better (lower glycemic index), it is still rice, still carb. Eating fish and a lot of vegetables, which are abundant in the Philippines, some nuts (like walnuts, pistachio, pecan, chestnut) and some fruits, and minimizing red meat to maybe to once a week, will make the Filipino diet healthier. A good version is the Mediterranean Diet, and our homeland has all the ingredients we want to make it a healthier diet. The trend among chefs and restaurateurs in major cities in the Philippines is towards healthier menus, controlled calories, low fat, low carb, high fiber…many popularizing fusion recipes.

Let’s eat healthy to minimize diseases and live longer. Our children should be taught by our example that health and well-being, prevention of illnesses, and longevity are all achievable through living a healthy lifestyle.

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The main objective of this column is to educate and inspire people live a healthier lifestyle to prevent illnesses and disabilities and achieve a happier and more productive life. Any diagnosis, recommendation or treatment in our article are general medical information and not intended to be applicable or appropriate for anyone. This column is not a substitute for your physician, who knows your condition well and who is your best ally when it comes to your health.

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The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Asian Journal, its management, editorial board and staff.

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Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, Health Advocate, newspaper columnist, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian foundation in the United States. He was a recipient of the Indiana Sagamore of the Wabash Award in 1995, presented by then Indiana Governor, US senator, and later a presidential candidate, Evan Bayh. Other Sagamore past awardees include President Harry Truman, President George HW Bush, Muhammad Ali, Astronaut Gus Grissom, educators, and leaders (Wikipedia). Websites: FUN8888.com, Today.SPSAtoday.com, and philipSchua.com; Email: [email protected].


Dr. Philip S. Chua

Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus in Northwest Indiana and chairman of cardiac surgery from 1997 to 2010 at Cebu Doctors University Hospital, where he holds the title of Physician Emeritus in Surgery, is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the Philippine College of Surgeons, and the Denton A. Cooley Cardiovascular Surgical Society. He is the chairman of the Filipino United Network – USA, a 501(c)(3) humanitarian foundation in the United States.

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