nutritionist

Asian Sauces and Sodium

Sauces are part and parcel of Asian cuisines. From hoisin to teriyaki, sauces light up our tastebuds – sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami. That is why, there are countless ways as flavouring agents in soups, or marinades in meats, fish as well as vegetables. However, one major stumbling block would be the heaps of salt (sodium) they contribute.

Most Asian sauces are low in fat and calories. Thus, analysing the total calories that the dish offers, does not provide a fair overall picture.

“The average Singaporean adult consumes 9 grams of salt per day, which is more than the recommended daily intake of 5 grams (this is equivalent to one teaspoon of salt)”, quoted from Health Hub, Health Promotion Board Singapore (HPB).

Other than taste, sodium plays an important role in preserving food. High salt content would mean a longer shelf life even if products are stored unrefrigerated as moisture is being drawn out. Therefore, bacteria and other little pesky microbes would not be able to survive.

Now, let us dive a little deeper into how much Asian sauces we put in our dishes. A serving size would vary from 1 teaspoon (5ml) to 1 tablespoon (20ml). According to the food analysis data provided by HPB’s Energy and Nutrient Composition of Food, 1 serve size (1 tablespoon) of light soy sauce provides a whopping 859.35mg of sodium. That is already four-fifth of a teaspoon! If we study the total calories, it is only 8.5Kcal. And not to mention, fat is negligible as well.

Retrieved from https://focos.hpb.gov.sg/eservices/ENCF/FoodAnalysis.aspx?p=1

Fret not, there are ways to flavour your food.

#1. Use herbs and spices
Herbs and spices not only enhance flavours but also contributes negligible sodium. If swapping out table salt or sauces completely deem impossible, reduce amounts of them and factor in herbs and spices.

#2. Do not add on more table salt
Now, we know that sauces deliver a lot of sodium content, further adding table salt is unnecessary.

#3. Read and compare food labels
If you are comfortable reading food labels, check out the nutrition information label to compare ‘per 100g’ of similar sauce products to make a more informed decision.

Retrieved from Healthhub.sg

#4. ‘Lower in Sodium’ Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS)
If reading food labels is a challenge, look out for the ‘Lower in Sodium’ HCS logo for a healthier alternative and easy way out!

#5. Include food ingredients that contain naturally occurring MSG
Yes, in fact, on a daily basis, foods like tomatoes, cheeses, seaweed and even the yeast that is used to bake delicious loaves of bread contain naturally occurring MSG. While MSG is shamed by the public due to old wives’ tales and myths of hair loss etc., there is no scientific evidence pertaining to that. In fact, introducing MSG could significantly reduce the need to include more table salt or sauces.


Retrieved from https://focos.hpb.gov.sg/eservices/ENCF/FoodAnalysis.aspx?p=1

6 Dining Out Health Hacks

These days, ‘upsizing’ has surpassed fast-food restaurants. From Japanese donburi bowls to soups where you could get an extra helping of noodles, the options are endless. “Value meals” in jumbo sizes are easy to over indulge and often, it means more sauces, cream and butter to create flavour bombs.

These are 6 suggestions that you could adopt while dining out to keep health goals in check.

#1 Avoid starters that are deep-fried or dressed in creamy sauces
Anything that is high in fat would actually keep us full. High-fat foods delay stomach emptying and therefore leaves you less space to consume what your body actually needs – essential nutrients; especially those that are from fruits and vegetables. Go for clear soups, greek yoghurt, a refreshing vegetable salad drizzled with lime or lemon dressing or a handful of mixed nuts.

#2 Vegetarian options are not always healthier
Yes, you heard us right. Tell your partner, your classmate and everyone else. Mock meat burgers to acai berry bowls are trending but, just because they are vegetarian, that does not mean they are off the hook being high in calories. Steer away from dishes that are covered in melted cheese or cooked with coconut milk, that is high in saturated “bad” fat.

#3 You do not have to forgo your dessert
Yaaaaaaas to desserts. If you are on Team Dessert, good news. There are hearty options out there like sorbets and even meringues. If you like fruits, puddings are generally fine. Of course, who would say no to rich chocolate cakes?! Share the guilty pleasure with your BFF.

#4 Tabao like a boss
Be a Karen. If you cannot finish your food, gurrll get a takeaway box. Not only you are helping the environment by reducing food wastage but also saving your pockets.

#5 Mindful eating aka take your time
Our brain takes about 20 minutes to register that we are full. Take your time to eat so that you do not overeat.

#6 Eat at Food Canopy outlets
Prefer to eat at a food court? Food Canopy outlets have not only your calories in check but also offer a wide variety of cuisines to choose from. Also, do pop by the CAN stations (health corners) for your BMI checked! Don’t say bojio.