Singapore Healthy Diet Pyramid


The Singapore Healthy Diet Pyramid is an interesting contrast to the United States Department of Agriculture guidelines for daily nutrition. It emphasizes grains and plant-based foods, with a limited amount of meat and alternative proteins. Rice (and other carbohydrate alternatives, such as noodles or bread) form the base of the pyramid, with fruits, vegetables, meats and, finally, fats at the top.

The Bottom: Rice

The Singapore Heart Foundation recommends five to seven servings of rice or other grains per day. Alternatives include chapatis, bread or noodles. One serving is about 1/2 cup of rice or noodles, two slices of bread or two chapatis. A day of this for an American might include an English muffin for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch and a rice bowl (with 1 cup of rice) for dinner. This diet is obviously not for someone who is afraid of carbohydrates.

Next Up: Fruit

Fruit is the next tier of the Singapore diet pyramid, but it is not the "5-A-Day" recommendation you see on the USDA pyramid. Singapore Government's Health Promotion Board recommends two servings per day, with each serving equivalent to one wedge of watermelon, 1/4 cup of dried fruit, one small apple or 8 oz. of pure fruit juice.

Eat Your Veggies

Vegetables are right alongside fruit, with the two servings a day recommendation. Whereas the USDA recommends 2.5 to 3 cups of vegetables each day, the Singapore Health Promotion Board says 1.5 cups is enough. This should be easy for an American to achieve with a side salad at lunch (composed of about 1 cup of raw vegetables) and 6 oz. of cooked vegetables at dinnertime.

Protein and Fat: Meat Not Necessary

Protein is close to the top of the Singapore diet pyramid, and "bean curd" is a viable option to get it in. This translates to tofu for the American shopper. "Cooked pulses" are another alternative, which means lentils or beans. Singaporeans are recommended to eat two to three portions per day, which is equivalent to 6 oz. of tofu in a breakfast scramble, 3/4 cup of beans for lunch and/or a palm-sized piece of meat at dinner. The pyramid de-emphasizes fats; the Health Promotion Board mentions them only to say you should reduce your intake and especially avoid animal fats and fried food.

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