How to manage your sodium intake while still enjoying hawker eats, Lifestyle News

by Rajesh Kaur

A recent survey has revealed that nine out of 10 Singaporeans are consuming too much salt, with daily sodium intake increasing over the years. Excessive sodium intake can have negative effects on the body, including high blood pressure, cardiovascular issues, and kidney damage. The same survey found that more than one in three people now have high blood pressure, putting them at risk for heart disease and stroke. With these concerning findings, it’s crucial for Singaporeans to reevaluate their diets and make changes to improve their health.

However, that doesn’t mean you need to completely overhaul your eating habits right away. It can be more effective to make small adjustments over time. In light of this report and World Heart Day, here are some tips on how to enjoy your favorite hawker eats while controlling your sodium intake:

1. Choose steamed or boiled dishes: Opt for dishes that are steamed or boiled instead of fried or stir-fried. Steamed or boiled options typically have lower sodium content as they rely less on salty sauces and seasonings.

2. Ask for less sauce: When ordering dishes like noodles or rice, ask for less sauce or gravy. The sauces used in many hawker dishes can be high in sodium, so reducing the amount can help cut down on your sodium intake.

3. Choose lean proteins: Select dishes that feature lean protein sources like chicken or tofu instead of processed or fatty meats, as processed meats tend to be higher in sodium.

4. Opt for fresh ingredients: Fresh ingredients, such as vegetables and tofu, are generally lower in sodium compared to processed or canned versions. Look for dishes with plenty of fresh vegetables.

5. Drink plenty of water: Consuming water before and during your meal can help dilute the sodium in your system and make you feel fuller, potentially reducing your overall intake.

Here are some specific adjustments you can make for popular hawker dishes:

Yong Tau Foo: Use low-sodium broth or make your own broth with reduced salt. Opt for fresh vegetables and tofu instead of canned or processed ingredients. Consider skipping the sauce or using it sparingly.

Mee Siam: Be cautious with the amount of sauce you consume, as the chili paste can be salty. Load up on fresh bean sprouts and lime for added flavor.

Hainanese Chicken Rice: Ask for or use less soy sauce to season the chicken. Consider skipping dark soy sauce altogether.

Char Kway Teow: Request less dark soy sauce and ask for more vegetables and tofu. Share the dish with a friend to reduce portion size.

Wanton Mee: Opt for soup-based wanton mee instead of dry, as it usually has less sauce. Request less soy sauce and seasoning, but avoid drinking up all the soup.

Roti Prata: Choose plain prata or prata with non-salty fillings like egg or onion. Be cautious with condiments like curry or dhal, as they can be seasoned with salt. Use them sparingly or ask for less salty condiments.

Nasi Lemak: Ask for less sambal or request it to be served on the side so you can control the amount you use. Use ikan bilis sparingly or request a smaller portion.

Bak Kut Teh: Order bak kut teh with a clear soup and opt for lean cuts of pork.

Fish Soup: Skip the fish cake and ask for more tofu instead.

Cai Fan: Choose steamed or boiled dishes, ask for less gravy, and load up on vegetables instead of fried foods, curry dishes, and processed meats.

Remember, hawker food can be flavorful without excessive salt. Communicate your preferences to the hawker and ask for adjustments to suit your dietary needs. Sharing dishes and drinking water can also help reduce your sodium intake while enjoying a variety of delicious hawker eats. It’s important to prioritize your health and make conscious choices for a lower sodium diet.

ALSO READ: All about sodium: How to manage your salt intake


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