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Healthy Eating for Adults

Why a healthy and balanced diet?

A healthy and balanced diet can provide an adequate amount of energy and nutrients. It can help you stay healthy and maintain an ideal body weight. It can also prevent diseases, especially heart disease, hypertension, stroke, diabetes, cancer.


What is a healthy and balanced diet?

  • Have wide variety of foods, and say 'no' to picky eating.
  • Have grains as staple food, plenty of fruit and vegetables, and a moderate amount of meat, milk or alternatives.
  • Have regular meals in regular times; take 3 meals per day.
  • Use less oil, salt and sugar for cooking or seasoning.
  • Choose foods with less fat/oil, less salt, less sugar and high dietary fibre.
  • Ensure adequate intake of fluid every day.

Healthy Eating Food Pyramid Adults


Fat/Oil, Salt and Sugar:

Male, Female - Eat the least


Milk and Alternatives:

Male - 2 glasses every day

Female - 1-2 glasses every day


Meat, Fish, Egg and Alternatives:

Male - 5-8 taels every day

Female - 5-7 taels every day



Male, Female - At least 3 servings every day *



Male, Female - At least 2 servings every day *



Male - 4-8 bowls every day

Female - 3-6 bowls every day


Drink: 6-8 glasses of fluid every day Including water, tea, milk, clear soup


Recommended daily energy intake (kcal)#

Male: 1900 - 3300

Female: 1500 - 2600


#     A person’s daily need for energy and nutrients varies with gender and activity level.


*    The World Health Organization recommends a minimum daily intake of 400 grams of fruit and vegetables, which is equivalent to a minimum of 2 servings of fruit and 3 servings of vegetables per day. The above figures show suggested minimum intake level only, and are meant to be exceeded wherever necessary.


Nutritional value and functions:

Grains are a rich source of carbohydrates, which are the main source of energy. They also contain traces of vitamins B1 and B6 and vegetable protein.
Whole grains like brown rice, red rice, oatmeal and wholemeal bread are rich in dietary fibre, and also thus can help prevent constipation, stabilise blood sugar level and increase satiety.

Tips on healthy options:

  • Choose low-fat (e.g. non-fried) grains, such as red rice, oatmeal, rice noodles (vermicelli), Shanghai noodles, mantou, macaroni, wholemeal bread, wholemeal biscuits, etc.
  • Limit the consumption of high-fat foods like yau mien, instant noodles, burns with meat stuffing, cocktail buns, pastries, cakes, cookies, sandwich biscuits, etc.

One bowl* of grains (approximately 50 g of carbohydrates)

  • 1 bowls of rice
  • 114  bowls of noodles 
  • 112  bowl of cooked spaghetti/macaroni
  • 212  - 3 bowls of porridge (made with 70g of rice)
  • 1 bowl of rice noodles (vermicelli) /udon noodles
  • 10 tablespoons of oatmeal (dry; 70 g)
  • 2 slices of bread (with crust; from a one-pound, eight-slice packet)
  • 114 bowls of corn kernels
  • 5 potatoes/yams (size of an egg)

*1 bowl = 250-300mL 

Vegetables and Fruits

Nutritional value and functions:

Fruit and vegetables are a rich source of vitamin C, folic acid, beta-carotene, potassium, magnesium, antioxidant and dietary fibre.
It can maintain a healthy body and help prevent several diseases such as heart disease and certain cancers.

Tips on healthy options:

  • Fruits:
    • Choose fresh fruit over preserved fruit. Apples, oranges, pears, or raisins without added sugar are good choices
    • Limit the consumption of canned fruit with added sugar, sweetened fruit juice, sweetened dried fruit, etc.
    • Limit the consumption of freshly squeezed or pure juices, as they contain more sugar but less dietary fibre, and nutrients when compared with a whole fruit 
  • Vegetables:
    • Choose fresh vegetables in season, eat a variety of them, e.g. leafy vegetables (choy sum, Chinese kale, celery), gourds and fruits (tomato, sweet pepper), roots and rhizomes (carrot, asparagus), beans/peas (string beans, snow peas), mushrooms (shiitake mushrooms, black fungus), etc. 
    • Limit the use of pickled products, such as pickled cucumber or preserved mustard root 

One serving of fruit

  • 1/2 bowl of grapes or strawberries
  • 1 piece of medium-sized fruit (e.g. orange, apple)
  • 2 pieces of small-sized fruit (e.g. plum, kiwi)
  • 1/2 bowl of fruit cuts (e.g. papaya, watermelon)
  • 1/2 piece of large-sized fruit (e.g. banana, dragonfruit)

One serving of vegetables

  • 1/2 bowl of cooked leafy vegetables
  • 1/2 bowl of cooked mushrooms
  • 1/2 bowl of cooked gourds
  • 1 bowl of uncooked vegetables

*1 bowl = 250-300 mL

Meat, Fish, Egg, Milk and Alternatives

Nutritional value and functions: 

Meat, fish, egg, milk and their alternatives are rich in protein, zinc and B vitamins. Red meat, egg, dry beans, soy products, nuts and seeds are even rich in iron, whereas dairy products are rich in calcium. These nutrients have various functions:

  • Protein promotes body growth, repairs cells and provides for metabolism
  • Zinc is vital for the human immune system
  • Iron, the major substance in red blood cells, prevents anaemia
  • Calcium promotes bone health

Tips on healthy options:

  • Milk and alternatives:
    • Choose low-fat milk or skimmed milk, or drink calcium-fortified low-sugar soy milk instead of milk
    • Limit whole milk, full-fat cheese and dairy products with high sugar content (e.g. condensed milk, chocolate milk, fruit-flavoured milk, fruit-flavoured yogurt drinks, etc.)
  • Meat, fish, egg and alternatives:
    • Choose meat with less fat content, poultry without skin, fish and seafood, eggs, dry beans (e.g. black -eyed pea, red kidney beans, etc.), soy products (e.g. bean curd, dried bean curd, etc.), non-deep fried plain nuts and seeds
    • Limit brisket/belly cuts, poultry with skin, chicken paws, offal, processed meat (e.g. luncheon meat, ham, sausages), preserved meat, deep-fried bean curd, bean curd puff, deep-fried or salted nuts.

One glass of Milk and alternatives

  • 1 cup of calcium-fortified soy milk
  • 1 cup of skimmed/low-fat milk
  • 1 tub of yogurt (original flavour low fat plain: 150 g)
  • 2 slices of low-fat cheese (approximately 56 g)

One tael of Meat, fish, egg and alternatives

  • 1/4 cake of bean curd (approximately 88 g)
  • 40 g Non-deep fried plain nuts 
  • 30 g of cooked meat, e.g. chicken, pork, fish, beef (amount comparable to size of a table-tennis ball)
  • 1 egg
  • 6-8 tablespoons of cooked dry beans (approximately 100 g)

*1 glass = 240mL
*1 table spoon = 15mL

Fat/Oil, Salt and Sugar

Nutritional value and functions:

The fat or oil in food is a source of fatty acids for the body; it helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. Sugar and salt provide the body with energy and sodium. Although the three substances are needed by the body, excessive intake is inadvisable.

Suggested daily intake:


Intake of such should take up 15-30% of the daily energy intake *;

Oil for cooking should not exceed 25-30 g (6-7 teaspoons) #


Preferably less than 2 000 mg* (1 level teaspoon of salt  or 2 tablespoons of soy sauce)


Intake of such should be below 10% of the daily energy intake

Intake of such should be less than 50 g or 10 level teaspoons for a diet of 2 000 kcal per day

1 teaspoon = 5 mL, 1 tablespoon = 15 mL

*from World Health Organization

# from Chinese Nutrition Society

Hidden oil/fat, salt and sugar in food:

As fat/oil, salt and sugar are hidden in a lot of foods, excessive intake is easy unless you take precautions.

  • Deep-fried foods: fried instant noodles, yau mien, deep-fried bean curd
  • Fatty and processed meat: short ribs, lamb brisket, sausage, luncheon meat, Chinese preserved meat, pork balls
  • Others: pastries, waffle biscuits, chocolate
  • Sauces: ready-to-use sauces (e.g. commercial black pepper sauce), "Swiss sauce" (a sauce made with sugar and soy sauce), fish sauce and shrimp paste
  • Pickled and processed foods: fermented black beans, preserved mustard, fermented bean curd, salted fish, ham, bacon, smoked duck breast
  • Natural sugars: cane sugar, fructose in fruit juice, honey, syrup
  • Foods and drinks with high sugar content: chocolate, ice-cream, cake, soft drinks, sweetened drinks in tetra packs

When purchasing pre-packaged food, refer to the nutrition labels and choose products with lower content of fat, sugar and sodium (i.e. salt).


Fluid can be water, tea, milk, clear soup, etc. Fluid can replenish body fluid otherwise lost through metabolism or perspiration.


Suggested daily intake:

Everyone should drink at least 6 to 8 cups of beverages every day to replenish body fluid lost through metabolism and perspiration.
As perspiration increases significantly in hot weather, one should drink even more water to replenish body fluid loss.


Tips on healthy options:

  • Choose water (best choice), tea, low-fat or skimmed milk, clear soup, etc.
  • Limit beverages with high sugar content, e.g. soft drinks, sweetened drinks in tetra packs.

*1 cup = 240 mL

Ideas for Healthy Cooking

How to choose seasonings:

  • Enjoy the natural taste of food 
  • Use natural seasonings, e.g. ginger, scallion, garlic, pepper powder, herbs, etc. To reduce the need for salt and other seasonings that contain sodium, e.g. soy sauce, chicken powder, monosodium glutamate, etc.
  • Use less sugar-containing seasonings, e.g. hoisin sauce, ketchup, barbecue sauce etc.

How to cut down on fat/oil intake

  • Use low-fat food ingredients wherever possible, e.g. meat with less fat content, poultry without skin
  • Trim away visible fat and skin before cooking
  • Use healthy vegetable oils for cooking; e.g. canola oil, peanut oil, corn oil, etc.
  • Use non-stick pans/woks to reduce the amount of oil needed for cooking, skim fat from soups
  • Use low-fat cooking methods more often, e.g. steaming, braising, double-boiling, blanching, stir-frying in less oil, blanching in soup, baking, etc.


How to increase dietary fibre intake

  •  Make vegetables, not meat, the main ingredient of your dishes
  • Include beans or mushrooms, e.g. red kidney beans, string beans, black fungus, shittake mushrooms, etc. and even fruit in your dishes wherever possible
  • Mix with red rice and brown rice

Central Health Education Unit website:

24-hour Health Education Hotline of the Department of Health: 2833 0111

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