You shouldn’t eat hotpot more than once a month – and the worst broths include seafood and chicken, local hospital warns

Too much hotpot could raise your chances of having high blood pressure, kidney problems, weight gain and heart disease.
  • Sorry for the bad news, but hotpot isn’t healthy for you, according to Mount Alvernia Hospital.

  • Just three slices of pork belly contain the same number of calories as a curry puff.

  • Drinking 100ml of any popular hotpot broth immediately causes you to exceed your daily maximum sodium intake.

  • Eating 10 processed items (fishballs, meatballs, sausages, luncheon meat) has the same effect.

  • If you can’t make healthy choices, then you should only eat hotpot once or twice a month.

Making gleeful plans to feast the entire weekend of Chinese New Year?

After blessing us with this viral article on calories in bubble tea last year, Singapore’s Mount Alvernia Hospital is back this festive season with more words of warning – this time, around the reunion staple of hotpot.

In a Facebook post on Friday (Jan 17), the hospital cautioned people against drinking too much hotpot broth during the upcoming festivities, due to the amount of salt in it.

Chinese New Year is just a few days away, which means it is often a clarion call for some festive, heart-warming reunion…

Posted by Mount Alvernia Hospital on Friday, 17 January 2020

It compared the sodium levels of seven types of popular hotpot broth, and found that all of them exceeded a person’s recommended daily allowance of 2,000mg (about a teaspoon) of salt per day.

The worst offender is bak kut teh broth, which contains over six times the daily sodium limit (12,800mg of salt per 100ml portion), followed by chicken broth (9,900mg) and seafood broth (7,600mg).

Even the healthiest options – tomato (3,800mg), spicy tomato (2,800mg) and mushroom broth (5,700mg) – all exceed the daily limit by a significant margin.

Read also: 90% of Singaporeans are consuming way too much salt, and it could be putting their health at risk

In its article about hotpot broths, the hospital said that one major way to cut down salt intake when eating hotpot is to drink less broth.

It also cautioned diners about processed meats, including fishballs, meatballs, luncheon meat and sausages. Eating just 10 of these items per meal will cause the diner to exceed the recommended daily sodium limit.

The hospital wrote: “(These items) are processed and high in sodium – even more so if they are combined with salty broth and dipping sauces. Having salty items frequently in large amounts increases the risk of high blood pressure and kidney problems.”

Read also: 2 in 5 Singaporeans are unhappy with their weight, and the young are more likely to be dissatisfied: Survey

In addition, the hospital asked Singaporeans to avoid high-fat hotpot choices, which can lead to weight gain and chronic conditions like heart disease.

It advised against oily broths high in saturated fat – such as laska and pig stomach broth – as well as fatty meats like pork belly, animal organs, and fried items.

It added that a 50g serving of pork belly (about three slices, depending on the thickness of the meat) contains the same number of calories and fat as a curry puff.

To counter unhealthy hotpot consumption, the hospital asked people to limit themselves to one or two a month, while those who pick healthier options, like clear soups, can eat it more frequently.

5 tips to cooking a healthy hotpot, according to Mount Alvernia Hospital:


#1: Pick cabbage or mushroom broth, and don’t drink it if possible.

#2: Pick fresh vegetables and lean proteins like tofu, chicken, and fish. Avoid processed foods and animal organs.

#3: Avoid sweet drinks and deep-fried side dishes like mantou and fish skin, which are calorie-heavy.

#4: Pair items with light sauces (fresh garlic, chilli and soy sauce) instead of chilli oil, sesame oil or deep-fried garlic.

#5: For hotpot at home, pick low-sodium stock cubes or boil your own broth for the soup.

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