Chinese New Year is the season of feasting and reunion, where we will organise gatherings with our friends and family. One of our favourite things to eat during this period is hotpot, as it’s easy and delicious. But did you know that eating hotpot is actually pretty unhealthy even if you choose all healthy ingredients, especially if you’re someone who loves drinking the broth?
According to Mount Alvernia Hospital, the health professionals there have warned that it actually has an excessively high amount of sodium which is not good for the body. In fact, they said that we should only eat hotpot once or twice a month. Whut! Not all broths are created equal and the hospital has come out with a list of seven types of popular broths along with its sodium content.
Even the types that you thought would be healthier, such as tomato or mushroom soup contain a whopping 3,840mg and 5,723mg respectively. As a comparison, it is recommended that we only consume 2,000mg per day (or 1 teaspoon of salt).
The worst offender is Bak Kut Teh broth, clocking in at 12,778mg of sodium while chicken broth runs a close second with 9,890mg. Plus, the hospital said that spicy broths have high fat content as they use a lot of oil. Some broths which add coconut milk or fatty meat inside will also increase the saturated fat content that you are consuming.
In addition, the ingredients you choose to cook inside the broth will influence the nutritional value as well. They urged us to stay away from fried or processed food and warns that even the dipping sauce plays a part in making the hotpot meal unhealthy.
Here are some of the tips from Mount Alvernia Hospital to have a healthier hotpot meal:
1. Choose clear or light-flavoured soup as your base like mushroom or cabbage soup. Try not to drink so much soup
2. Include more fresh vegetables in your hotpot
3. Eat more lean meats such as fresh chicken or fish and add tofu as it’s a good source of lean protein. Avoid fatty sides such as fried food and pork belly. A 50g serving of pork belly has 230 calories and 20g fat which is equivalent to a curry puff!
4. Avoid processed foods such as meatballs, luncheon meat and hot dogs as they are high in sodium and offal
5. Stay away from sweet drinks which just add unnecessary calories to your meal
6. Limit your dipping sauces and choose healthier options such as minced garlic and fresh cut chilli with a little soy sauce instead of deep-fried garlic and oil-based sauces such as chilli oil or sesame oil
7. Make sure that your food is fully cooked to prevent food poisoning
Mount Alvernia Hospital advises the public to only consume hotpot once or twice a month, especially for those who prefer high fat and high sodium broths. This is because too much high-fat food is bad for your health and can lead to weight gain and chronic conditions such as heart disease. Excessive amounts of sodium increase the risk of high blood pressure and kidney problems. However, for people who want to enjoy a lighter and healthier hotpot, they can have it more frequently.
It’s the season of indulgence but it’s important to stay healthy and choose your food wisely!
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