sodium

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