Tang Yuan- Good or Bad for health - CARiNG Pharmacy

Tang Yuan: Good or Bad for Health

In December, Chinese celebrate the “Dong Zhi” festival, also known as the Winter Solstice Festival. Tang Yuan is a major part of the Winter Solstice Festival for many Chinese around the world. Tang Yuan is a dessert that is made from glutinous rice flour and filled with various types of fillings such as red bean paste,black sesame and peanut. Yummy yummy! 

Many suspect that Tang Yuan might not be healthy as Tang Yuan is commonly cooked in sweet soup and contains sweet fillings. To what extent? Let’s find out!

High calorie

1 glutinous rice ball with fillings provides 60-70 calories1, thus 1 serving of Tang Yuan (consisting of 5 glutinous rice balls) provides 300-350 calories and this equals to the calories of 1 bowl of white rice. You may need to run for 30 minutes to burn these calories. On the other hand, plain glutinous rice balls have lower calories compared to those with fillings. 1 small size of plain glutinous rice ball consists of 7 calories 2.

High sugar

Most of the Tang Yuan fillings are sweet. For example, red bean paste and lotus seed paste are high in sugar. Tang Yuan has a moderate glycaemic index of 61 and it raises blood sugar levels relatively fast. Glycaemic index is a measurement of how fast a food affects your blood sugar. Diabetic patients should control the portion of Tang Yuan to avoid the surge in blood sugar level.


Tang Yuan is made from glutinous rice flour and it is hard to digest 4. People who have digestive problems, especially the elderly, should limit the number of Tang Yuan they are taking to avoid indigestion and bloating.

Risk of Choking

Parents need to be careful when giving Tang Yuan to children below 4 years old to prevent choking hazards as Tang Yuan is easily choked if they don’t manage to chew properly before swallowing.

Life is sweeter with less sugar! Last but not least, Tang Yuan is tasty, don’t forget to take it in moderation. For more information, please approach our pharmacists at your nearby CARiNG Pharmacy.


  1. Tang Yuan. myfitnesspal. (Web accessed December 2022). Web link: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/tang-yuan-51815355
  2. Tang Yuan (No Filling). myfitnesspal. (Web accessed December 2022). Web link: https://www.myfitnesspal.com/food/calories/tang-yuan-no-filling-161454700
  3. Glycemic index and glycemic load of selected Chinese traditional foods. Chen YJ, Sun FH, Wong SH et al. (2010). World J Gastroenterol
  4. Susceptibility of glutinous rice starch to digestive enzymes. L Guo, J Zhang, J Hu et. al.(2015). Carbohydr Polym.