Bells are ringing as the holidays approach! From fruit cakes to roasted turkeys, do you know how much salt and sugar there are in your holiday food?
According to the Health Promotion Board (HPB), Singaporeans have been consuming too much salt or sodium recently, with a Singaporean consuming a daily average of 3,600mg of sodium. This is 1,600mg above the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) recommended salt intake of a maximum of 2,000mg a day.
High sodium consumption can raise blood pressure, resulting in a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
The health organisation further advised adults and children to limit their sugar intake to a maximum of 12 teaspoons or 50g of sugar per day.
Consuming too much sugar can contribute to obesity, heart disease, tooth decay, and fatty liver disease, among others.
In light of this, we’ve listed down the components of your favourite holiday foods so you know how much to enjoy, and how much can put you at risk.
The crowd favourite! Turkey on its own is low in fat, high in protein, and a good source of iron zinc, phosphorus, potassium, and B vitamins. However, you should watch out for your sodium intake when pairing your turkey with store-bought gravy.
According to HPB, a 90g-portion of roasted turkey contains 56.7 mg of sodium and 0 g of sugar. A 28.4g-slice of turkey, meanwhile, contains 282.86 mg of sodium.
You should also take into account the sodium content of your stuffings if you are going for a stuffed turkey.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has listed chicken as one of the top sources of sodium an individual consumes each day.
A quarter serving or 202g of roasted skinless chicken already amounts to 553.48 mg of sodium according to the HPB. Meanwhile, an 80g-piece of deep-fried Malay-style chicken amounts to 350.4mg of sodium.
This doesn’t take into account the gravy or other sauces you’ll pair with chicken given that it’s so versatile! So better check the sodium content of your sauces too.
Another star of the Christmas dining table–pork hams. A 21g-slice of plain ham already amounts to 240.66 mg of sodium. Honey-baked hams (which are tastier, we know) can have a sodium amount of up to 262.08 mg per 21g-slice as per the HPB.
This is already more than half of the recommended salt intake per day for an average person. You might want to hold back on binging on hams and move to less sodium-rich meat this Christmas.
A slice of honey-baked ham also contains 0.65g of sugar per slice.
Although you might think that fruitcake is a healthy addition to your Christmas menu because it has ‘fruits’, its ingredients say otherwise. Fruit cakes tend to have high butter, sugar, and syrup content, making them high not only in sugar content but also in calories.
According to HPB, a homemade fruitcake without icing contains 21.18 g of sugar per slice or 60 g serving. This is already around 35 percent of the total composition of a typical fruitcake.
Pork chorizo, chicken hotdog sausage
A 60g link of your favourite pork chorizo sausage contains 473 mg of sodium and 0g of sugar. Meanwhile, a 45.5g-piece of your typical chicken hotdog amounts to 862.23 mg of sodium and 0.41g of sugar according to the HPB.
This is unsurprising as processed foods are usually high in salt content, so watch out for them too.
Now an all-ages favourite – bacon. A 7.9g slice of pan-fried bacon amounts to 191.81mg of salt compared to baked bacon which has 177.63 mg of sodium per slice.
For Chestnut stuffing which contains chestnuts, butter, and seasonings, sodium content can reach as high as 720.5mg per serving while the sugar content is 1.8g.
As per the health board, a 156g portion of roasted ducks contains 324.48mg of sodium. Again, gravy and sauces are not yet included!
A 165g piece of grilled sirloin beef contains 80.85 mg of sodium. It contains no sugar according to HPB.
A 10-inch Hawaiian Regular Crispy Thin Pizza contains 333.96 mg of sodium and 4g of sugar according to HPB. A regular crust pizza with pepperoni toppings? 693 mg of sodium.
It’s safe to say that the sodium content of your favourite pizza depends on its toppings so choose well!
This one’s a difficult one since it’s almost a dining table staple. A 352g portion of the family favorite Lasagna contains 795.52 mg of sodium and 2.46g of sugar. Again, a healthy proportion is the key!
Log cake, or simply chocolate sponge cake, contains 275mg of sodium and 10.67 g of sugar per 55g piece, as per HPB.
Unsurprisingly, a 68g slice of baked cheesecake for dessert contains 8.64g of sugar in contrast to commercial cheesecakes which hold 19.21g of sugar per 98g slice.
The sodium content of a slice of baked cheesecakes is lower at 134.64 mg compared to commercial cheesecakes which have a sodium content of 264.6 mg per 98g slice.
Last but not least, one of the favourite appetisers during holiday dinners is mashed potatoes.
A one-cup or 114 g serving of mashed potato typically has 1.25 g of sugar and 462.85 mg of salt according to HPB. This is because of the salt and butter and other ingredients individuals like to have in their potatoes! A plain baked potato, on the other hand, only has 16.16 mg of sodium per 202 g whole.
All set for the holidays? Remember, you can still eat all your favourites but be careful about the portions of the food you eat. Stay healthy and start planning your healthy meals now!
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