Myron Yau, HK BioTek Nutritionist
In this article, we will take a look at a favorite meal of Hong Kongers, hotpot. Starting from soup bases, ingredients, sauces, eating sequence, drinks to dietary advices few meals after hotpot, we will uncover some healthy alternatives for you one-by-one.
First of all, many people prefer soup bases with a dense taste for hotpot. Yet choosing a healthy soup base doesn’t necessarily mean that it has an insipid flavor. Soup bases that are especially popular include pig bone soup, spicy hot soup and satay soup which are not healthy choices. Pig bone soup is unhealthy as as its ingredients contain a large amount of purine. In prolonged boiling process, the purines will dissolve into the soup and be absorbed by hotpot ingredients. Prolonged excessive intake of purines will lead to hyperuricemia and may end up with gout. Also, pig bones are rich in fat. Spicy hot soup and satay soup are actually very similar in terms of their fat content, both of which are high. Vegetables indeed tends to absorb more oil and fats in the soup. Therefore, the more these vegetables are eaten, more fats are ingested as a whole. In fact, there are a lot of healthy as well as delicious soup bases, such as corn and tomato soup, in which lycopene in tomato is a powerful antioxidant which can help preventing cataract. If you want to taste the freshness of the ingredients, you may try a pure chicken soup.
Secondly, attention should also be paid to hotpot ingredients. The popular ones in Hong Kong include fat beef, cheese sausages, fried fish balls, pork dumplings, ‘fish-skin dumplings’, etc, which are all high-calorie and high-fat foods. Meat-lovers can choose lean beef, fresh fish meats and other fresh seafoods. It is because beef and pork are high in fats while seafoods contain relatively less fat. If meat balls are your favorites, you should choose some unfried fish balls and beef balls. For dumpling, vegetable dumplings are wise choices. Also, other healthy foods are tofu noodles, taro, corns and fresh vegetables.
Choosing a hotpot sauce requires some skills. If your soup base is pure chicken soup, a little soya sauce and cayenne pepper should be enough to carry out a favorable taste. However, if the soup bases are satay soup and pig bone soup which carry heavy tastes, you’d better not to order addition sauce. Otherwise, it may take away the original taste of the soup bases.
The sequence of eating different foods in a hot pot meal is important too. One should start eating hotpot with grains and vegetable, followed by meat. During the process of boiling meat, the fat in meat will be released into the soup and then fats are suspended on the surface of the soup. If the order is reversed, vegetables will absorb the suspended fat on the soup during boiling. Long-term ingestion of excess fat increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
For drinks in hotpot, soft drinks, beers and other sugary drinks are not good choices. The better drinks are sugar-free/low-sugar drinks, cold tea and water.
After the hotpot, more exercise and insipid meals are highly recommended on the later few days as hotpot usually eat more. It is hoping that the reductions of calorie and fat intakes and increase in energy expenditure can attain a balance in average. Moreover, more fruits ingestion can favor digestion.