These may be really easy to make, but, according to a nutritionist, could pose threats to your health

By Nadine Halili | Art by Tricia Guevara | Source image by Nicole Ganglani

Among the many trends going around social media during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Dalgona coffee and tuna pie may be the most popular. People have been sharing these recipes and posting their attempts online to satisfy their cravings for barista-brewed coffee and legendary fast food staples. But are these snacks honestly good for you? To answer this, we consulted Fia Batua, RND, a medical and sports nutritionist dietitian and chef-culinary nutritionist, to help us understand the worthiness of these recipes to your diet. 

 

Dalgona coffee is a treat

This drink has only recently gained traction online, but Dalgona coffee actually rose to prominence in January after South Korean actor Jung Il-woo tried it in Macau for “Stars’ Top Recipe at Fun-Staurant,” a popular television program. The whipped coffee recipe reached an even bigger audience when Hannah Cho uploaded a 15-second video making it for her mother on TikTok. According to Batua, it’s a cheat food that should only be drunk once or twice a month given that it’s primarily made with instant coffee, sugar and milk. Batua says that a serving of instant coffee contains 60 to 80mg of caffeine compared with brewed coffee’s 60 to 120mg per cup. 

Though caffeine has many benefits (it helps with concentration, reduces fatigue and improves endurance), too much can lead to high stomach acidity levels, nervousness, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and anxiety.

The same can also be said for its sugar content. “One should be aware of the high amount of sugar used. [The recipe requires]  two tablespoons, [which is equivalent to] six teaspoons [of sugar]. That’s about 96 calories!” says Batua. “Sugar is not evil, but taking too much in one sitting is not advisable. For the general population, we only have an allowance of five servings of sugar a day (that’s five teaspoons a day). Again sugar is not evil, but most of the time we abuse it. 

Dalgona coffee is also a good source of protein because of milk. But I prefer low fat to nonfat milk to control total calorie intake from fat, and overall calories. You may also want to try it with almond milk, [which has] less sugar.”

 

Tuna pie can be a complete meal

As a popular fast food snack, people have been craving tuna pies ever since the announcement of the ECQ. Many have been replicating the fan favorite at home using simple ingredients like sliced bread, canned tuna, mayonnaise, cheese and onions. And we know that canned tuna is one of the healthiest canned goods out there—it’s rich in protein and nutrients that support metabolic health and blood sugar regulation. 

As it has 230 calories per serving, Batua says tuna pies can actually be a meal replacement. But she also points out some concerns about the recipe, including the high sodium content of the canned tuna as well as the high calorie content due to deep frying. For a healthier version, she suggested using fresh tuna flakes, or tuna flakes in water/olive oil and to limit consumption to one to two servings a day.

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