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Hot pot can be healthy when you choose your ingredients, soup base and dipping sauces carefully. The Department of Endocrinology at Singapore General Hospital shares how.
“Let’s go for steamboat!” In Singapore, this is often a clarion call for some festive, heart-warming get-together with family, friends or colleagues. But is this richly flavoured, soup-based cauldron of fresh ingredients we call hot pot or steamboat, good for your body too?
The answer is: Hot pot can certainly be healthy, provided you choose your ingredients, base soup and dipping sauces carefully to avoid an overdose of sodium, saturated fats, and carbohydrates in your meal.
The sodium content in a typical hot pot meal far exceeds the recommended daily salt intake. Popular hot pot ingredients, such as fish balls, cuttlefish balls, crab sticks, and meatballs, are all processed foods high in sodium, advise specialists from the Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
One can easily devour a dozen of these perennial hot pot favourites – fish balls, meatballs, and cuttlefish balls – in one sitting.
Just five servings each of fish balls and cuttlefish balls will use up more than half your daily allowance for sodium (2,000mg) and cholesterol (300mg). And this does not include the sodium in the broth!
Hot pot lovers are spoilt for choice when it comes to the broth.
You have the popular Chongqing spicy (ma la) soup, Thai tom yam soup, Sichuan hot and spicy soup, Chinese herbal pork belly soup, and kombu dashi soup (for Japanese nabe).
The base soup, which already contains salt, is made more flavourful by adding slices of marinated pork, chicken, beef and organ meats such as liver, pork kidney, beef tripe. All of those are high in saturated fats.
Even the chilli paste added to soups is sometimes fried with corn, soybean, olive or canola oil.
Observe these rules to enjoy a healthy hot pot meal that doesn’t lead to heartburn, indigestion or constipation: