A new year with a “new” heart

Chinese New Year is around the corner and it is common to celebrate with festive snacks which may have high salt content despite they do not taste salty. Salt is a mineral and made up of sodium and chloride. We need sodium to maintain blood pressure, support the optimum function of nerves and muscles as well as regulate fluid balance in our body. Excessive salt intake may contribute the risk of getting hypertension which contributes to the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, kidney failure, osteoporosis, stomach and nasopharyngeal cancers. According to Health Promotion Board (HPB) of Singapore, we are recommended to consume no more than 5g of salt (2000mg of sodium), this is also equivalent to a teaspoon of salt per day.

5g of salt = 2000mg sodium = 1 teaspoon of salt



Bak Kwa is a processed meat which a lot of salt is added to enhance the taste. A slice of this savoury treat contains one third of your daily salt recommendation, 732mg sodium and 300kcal which equivalent to 1 bowl of white rice. Therefore, share your Bak Kwa with family or friends during this festive season to deepen the bonding among family and friend or have a stick of grilled meat skewer instead!



CNY 4Salt and butter are the most important ingredients used to make the creamy buttery pastry of pineapple tart. Unfortunately, the sodium content in butter can be high. Therefore, do not underestimate the sodium content of pineapple tart despite it tastes sweet more than savoury. In addition, it also contains high calories as sugar will be added while cooking the filling, pineapple. Two pieces of pineapple tart contains 116mg of sodium and 12g of sugar which equivalent to almost a tablespoon of sugar! Using unsalted butter and cut down the amount of salt and unsalted butter used may make a lot of difference. Most importantly, eat in moderation may help you to cut down sodium and sugar intake.


CNY 5Salt, flavourings and preservatives added into this savoury crispy fragrant fried fish skin contribute a lot of sodium to this packet of snack. This crispiness can be addictive and no surprise that a big packet (230g) can be finished easily which may cause you easily consumed as much as 75% (1426mg of sodium) of your total recommended sodium intake. So, watch your intake and consume moderately.


CNY 6Seaweed tempura is also one of the snack with high salt content. The pre-packed seaweed snack contains a lot of salt and flavourings to spice up the taste of the seaweed. Salt and soy sauce are also added into the egg which used to stick the seaweed with the spring roll pastry. A serving of 30g seaweed tempura contains 210mg sodium. Therefore, read the label and ingredient list and pick the seaweed with lowest sodium content by removing salt in the recipe as seaweed has a natural taste of salt!


CNY 7Salt can be clearly seen coating outside of the nuts. A handful of mixed nuts contain 80mg of sodium. Raw or baked mixed nuts are alternative options to replace salted nuts. Remember, do not add any flavouring or seasoning if you are preparing your own. Mostly importantly, read the ingredient list and nutrition information panel to choose a healthier version.


CNY 8Salted dried plum is an unhealthy snack as salt and sugar are the main ingredients for curing the fruit. Four pieces (10g) of this refreshing snack contains 350mg of sodium and 3g of sugar which is about half a teaspoon of sugar. Therefore, consuming this hunger trigger snack in moderation to limit your sodium and sugar intake. Alternatively, you may replace with a serving of fruit as fibre kicks hunger away! Thus, it stops you from munching and indulging.


CNY 9Dried shrimp is a dry good with salt and sodium containing preservatives added into the drying process to extend its shelf life. The filling of dried shrimp will be fried with chilli paste and additional salt added into the frying process to enhance the flavour before being wrapped with spring roll pastry. Four pieces of dried shrimp rolls contributes 164.8mg of sodium.

In conclusion, quality, quantity and frequency matters after all. Watch your quantity and pick the one with least sodium content to kick start a healthy 2020!


If you have any general inquiries about diet and nutrition, you can contact us at our

Call-A-Dietitian hotline 983-22-983 !

Brought to you by Seow Vi Vien, Dietitian of Khoo Teck Puat Hospital

Follow us on Instagram @ktph.dietitians for more nutritional goodness!



Health Hub (2019). How to Eat Right to Feel Right. Retrieved from:


CNA (2018). Health: What is the caloric damage of your favourite CNY snacks? Retrieved from:


Pickled and dried:


Asia one (2018). How fattening is that piece of bak kua? Retrieved from:


My Fitness Pal (2020). Chinese Salty Dried Plums – Wah Mui – Salted Preserved Plums. Retrieved from:






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