Reuters describes Malaysia as “a country where eating is a national pastime,” but unfortunately, this national habit is contributing to a rise in obesity, diabetes, strokes, and heart disease. “With ingredients such as high cholesterol coconut milk, clarified butter and sugar cane, the traditional Malaysian diet may be among the most unhealthy cuisines in the world,” writes reporter Liau Y-Sing.
Now some chefs are attempting to reinvent this traditional cuisine, replacing coconut milk with soy milk and white rice with brown rice. And Ismail Ahmad, a Malaysian celebrity chef, altered the menu of his restaurant, Rebung, to include more vegetables and less meat. That said, the traditional Malaysian diet, which is indeed high in fat, cholesterol, sugar, and salt, isn’t the only cause for the recent rise in the country’s health problems. Experts also blame “rising affluence, a sedentary lifestyle and a growing trend of working mothers.”
Personally, I don’t think I’d ever choose a healthy soy milk soup over a bowl of coconut milk–heavy sayur lodeh, but I hit the gym regularly to balance out my unhealthy (and delicious) food choices. If anyone else wants to celebrate Malaysian food at home, there are plenty of traditional recipes at MalaysianFood.net. Remember, folks, moderation is the key.