Spotlight on Chinese meals

White rice and jasmine rice can both cause a quick rise in your blood glucose levels. Accredited Practising Dietitian Lexie Jin suggests ways to modify some traditional Chinese dishes to help you with blood glucose management.


Congees are a popular year-round breakfast option. However, they can cause a quick rise in your blood glucose levels (BGL) because they are high in Glycaemic Index (GI) as they are made with white rice.

Swap or mix your white rice with grains such as pearl barley, red beans, mung beans and rolled oats. These have a lower GI and work well in congee. They add some extra protein and fibre to your meal too which helps you to feel full for longer. You don’t have to replace your white rice completely with grains, instead mix them to find your own balance.

The Glycaemic Index (GI) rates how quickly a carbohydrate containing food is broken down into glucose after being eaten. Higher GI foods produces a faster and higher rise in blood sugar levels (BGL), whereas lower GI foods produce a slower and lower rise in BGL.

Adding some extra lower GI beans and grains helps with lowering the GI of your congee without altering the taste and texture too much. If you don’t like grains, try adding animal proteins such as lean chicken, pork and some vegetables.


Just like congees, white jasmine rice is high in GI. Swap it with low GI rice such as Doongara or Basmati rice. If giving up your favourite rice could is the last thing you want to do, consider mixing your regular jasmine rice with low GI rice, or adding some other lower GI grains like quinoa or black rice.


You are lucky if you enjoy noodles because most noodles are lower in GI, including instant noodles. However, even though instant noodles are lower GI they are high in saturated fat and sodium so they must be limited. Foods that are high in saturated fat and sodium can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.
It is best to choose low GI alternatives such as egg noodles, rice noodles or udon noodles for better overall health.

Stir fries

When it comes to stir-fries or stews, it’s easy to forget about the hidden sources of carbohydrates such as the sweet marinate sauce for Cha Siu or the corn starch used to coat the meat – they all add up and contribute to higher BGLs after meals. Only use a minimal amount of marinades, sugar, syrup or corn starch when cooking.

Dishes prepared with pork ribs, chicken wings and pork belly will not have the most direct and immediate effect on your BGL as they are not high in carbohydrate.
However, fatty portions on the meat and skins on the chicken are high in saturated fat.

Saturated fats not only increase your cholesterol level, but make your insulin work less effectively, which will have a negative influence on your long term BGLs and weight management.
Make sure you are trim the fatty portions of the meat off and remove the skins from the chicken before cooking.

Additionally, add some colourful vegetables to your stir fries/stews or have an extra vegetable based dish to add some more fibre to your meals.

Keywords: healthy eating

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