Gathering around a pot of bubbling broth and a wide array of ingredients is one of the most popular ways of celebrating the Lunar New Year for Chinese families, not just because a steamboat meal is easy to prepare but also a symbol of family reunion.
However, did you know that a typical hot pot broth contains more than 7,000mg of sodium per serving, surpassing the recommended daily allowance of 2,000mg per day (or less than 1 teaspoon of salt)? Before we dip our chopsticks into our next simmering hot pot, let’s debunk some myths so you can be filled with vitality and great health this Tiger year!
I should not eat carbs with my steamboat.
FACT: Carbs are not the devil! Carbs are essential and your body’s main and preferred source of energy. Together with protein and vegetables, carbs keep your meals well-balanced and nutritious.
When it comes to consuming carbs, the portion and type of grains matter. Keep our SHF Heart Smart Eating Plate principles in mind. Fill your plate with ¼ serve carbohydrates and protein, respectively, and ½ plate with vegetables and fruit. Aim for more whole-grains instead of refined grains. Whole-grains, such as brown rice, red rice vermicelli, soba noodles, whole-grain noodles, are higher in fibre, vitamins and minerals, help with satiety and reduce the risk of heart disease.
Otherwise, choose from a variety of healthier refined carbohydrate options such as baked instant noodles, vermicelli, kway teow, konjac (shirataki) and glass noodles.
Chicken Soup is a healthier broth option.
FACT: Surprise! Just a serving of 100g of chicken soup contains 9,890mg of sodium (meeting ~494% of your daily recommended sodium intake). Different soup broths flavours all boil down to the sauces, spices, and soup stocks added, contributing to high sodium levels.
Opt for clear, light-flavoured, vegetable-based soups instead – such as mushroom or tomato base. You can also try making a simple homemade vegetable broth by mixing some of your favourite vegetables such as onion, celery, cabbage, carrot, leek and mushrooms to form the base of your steamboat. This will help reduce your overall sodium and fat intake and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease such as heart disease and stroke.
Mixing my sauces completes the steamboat meal.
FACT: From creamy sesame, peanut dressing to spicy chilli oil, the array of dipping sauces have become an integral part of the hot pot experience loved by many. But these delicious dips are high in calories, fats, sugar and sodium.
Instead, create your sauce by mixing fresh minced garlic, ginger, parsley, coriander, spring onion in low-sodium soy sauce or vinegar! Even better, enjoy it fresh without additional condiments to reduce your overall sodium intake.
More tips for a healthier steamboat meal:
Balance your steamboat
Fill your pot with a base of vegetables, a mix of protein such as lean chicken, pork, fish, tofu, and eggs, along with healthier carb alternatives, preferably whole-grains, for a balanced and nutritious meal.
More high-fibre greens
Whenever you feel like reaching out for more, go for vegetables as they are low in calories, high in fibre, assisting with satiety and keeping you feeling fuller for a longer period. This, in turn, helps prevent you from overeating!
Processed foods such as fish balls, meatballs, cuttlefish balls, and crab sticks are high in sodium, saturated fats, and chemical preservatives such as sodium nitrite to preserve the meat’s flavour and colour. Choose fresh meat instead to reduce your sodium intake.
Limit steamboat to only when the occasion calls for it
Steamboat meals are generally high in calories, sodium and fat, yet low in vitamins and minerals. Best to minimise consumption and keep them to special occasions.
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