Mount Alvernia Dietician Reveals That Steamboat Isn’t As Healthy As People Think


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Here’s something about the Goody Feed office: It’s in a location so ulu that there’s nothing to eat.

Even as a Cai Png man who eats Cai Png day in day out, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, date nights, weddings, festivals, normal days… there still comes a time where I cannot deny my Asian blood calling for the steamboat (or hotpot for the international peeps).

Steamboat is love.
Steamboat is life.
Without steamboat, I will die.

And I thought I’d die until I saw this:

That’s lunch settled.

And for dinner, on the way home:

There’s nothing more calming than good ol’ steamboat day in day out.


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Since it’s basically soup and boiled ingredients, it must be healthy right?

Big nope.

Image: Giphy

Like any good doctor will, Rachel Tso, a Dietitian at Mount Alvernia Hospital spoiled our steamboat dreams by telling us the unhealthy truth.

Reason 1: Too Much Sodium

Image: Mount Alvernia Hospital

She looked at common hotpot soup bases, and pointed out that the typical hot pot broth exceeds 7000mg of sodium per serving.

In comparison, the recommended daily allowance is only 2000mg, which was a fact that made me spit out my Mala soup as I was typing this.

Image: Giphy

But looking carefully…

Laksa only has 2155mg compared to Chicken’s 9890mg, which means we’re now safe to go to flavour town with Laksa broth right?

Wrong again.

Reason 2: Too Much Fat

Fat is common in broths, especially spicy ones which tend to have a lot of oil. Things like coconut milk (like in laksa) or offal or fatty meats (like pig stomach soup) also increase the fat content in the soup.

We’re not done yet. If you realised, we only talked about the soup so far.

Oh yeah, there are more reasons to not eat steamboat.

Stop ruining hotpot, Rachel. / Image: Giphy

The ingredients also contribute a lot of sodium and fat.

Steamboat Ingredients Vary Widely In Nutrition

Ingredients like vegetables, tofu and lean meat (chicken, fish) are good low-calorie choices.

But fried sides, offal, fatty cuts of meat like pork belly and shabu-shabu are big nonos because of the calories and fat. Each 50g serving of pork belly is equivalent to a curry puff at 230 calories and 20g fat.

Processed food like meatballs, luncheon meat, and hot dogs are already high in sodium, so adding salty broth and dipping sauces is basically the shortcut to getting on a heart transplant waiting list.

I know, I know. It’s depressing to read.


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But there are ways to still have hotpot.

How To Have Healthy Hotpot

Use Healthy Ingredients

I’m one of those people who will give you a shocked look if you eat vegetables too early into the hotpot. That’s actually the best part that should be left to the last when the soft veggies absorbed all the essence of the broth and other ingredients.

And it still tastes good even if you use healthier ingredients. Fresh vegetables like spinach, cabbage, lettuce, and mushrooms should form the largest portion of your ingredients. Did I also mention that vegetable soups make a good base?

For proteins, use leaner meats like fresh chicken or fish, or tofu.

Watch The Sides, Drinks, And Sauces

Avoid fried items to go with your hotpot or soft drinks which add a lot of calories. Go for things like water, or may I suggest: some good quality tea that doesn’t require sugar?

For sauces, deep-fried garlic or oil-based sauces like chilli oil or sesame oil are less recommended. Go for minced garlic and fresh cut chilli with a little soy sauce.


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Cook Your Meat Properly

So you don’t get food poisoning. Duh.

If you’re going to have barbeque together, avoid the charred portions that have harmful compounds that are linked to increased cancer risk.

Limit Hotpot to 1 or 2 Times a Month

If you’re using fresh ingredients and clear soup, you can have them more frequently of course.

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