Time&’s inclusion of nasi lemak as one of the 10 healthiest international breakfasts has raised a few eyebrows among Malaysian nutritionists.
In an article on Monday, the renowned US-based magazine listed the national staple at No. 9 on the list, calling it “supremely delicious”, and acknowledging its fat content but saying it was “balanced with lots of manganese, protein, and carbs”.
Nutritionist Tan Sue Yee, 35, professed to being “pleasantly surprised”.
“In my line of work, nasi lemak has always had a bad reputation. But then, if we dissect the various components that make up a serving, it does cover the major food groups of the food pyramid – rice is the carbohydrate source, egg, anchovies and peanuts as sources of protein, and cucumber as the vegetable.
“Nasi lemak can be eaten as part of a healthy meal. The issue is that this dish has been revolutionised, and now comes with various high-fat, high-calorie side dishes like rendang, curry, etc,” said the lecturer at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, International Medical University.
“As a Malaysian, I enjoy nasi lemak. But to make it healthier, I always order extra cucumber slices and a whole hard-boiled egg, rather than half. I only enjoy the given portion of rice and other condiments, because the fat content is the highest in these components.”
Another nutritionist, Alexandra Prabaharan, 34, said she usually used the breakfast staple as an example of an unhealthy Malaysian meal.
For it to be considered a healthy start to the day, it would have to be more balanced, said Alexandra.
“The amount of rice would have to be halved and there should be less sugar in thesambal. A lot more ikan bilis, egg, peanuts and cucumber.
Coming in at No. 1 on Time&’s list was the “meze-style” platter from Turkey, which can include olives, tomato, white cheese, parsley, eggs, honey, cubanelle peppers, cucumbers, garlic sausage and savoury pastries.
Also on the list: Israel&’s shakshouka (eggs poached in a vegetable-spike tomato sauce), Japanese rice with tofu and Vietnam&’s famous herb-scented pho, as well as the Russian kasha, a grain porridge, and ful medames from Egypt, stewed fava beans spiced with cumin, parsley and garlic.