Maintaining heart health requires a balanced diet.
In a previous blog post, we explained the “food plate”, which is an easy-to-understand illustration on how best to achieve the balanced diet. The simple rule of thumb is to consume 50% vegetables; with the rest made up of some grains, starchy vegetables such as potato, some proteins, some milk, yoghurt and cheese, and the rest healthy oil, nuts and seeds.
Yum char is hugely popular in Chinese. From the heart point of view,
- multiple small plates make it quite hard to work out the right food group proportions
- many dim sums contain high overall fat content, especially saturated fat
- many dim sums contain very high salt content.
The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department of Hong Kong studied the nutrient values of Chinese dim sum in 2007.
Rather than listing the nutrient values of all popular items here, we have picked a few interesting (and sometimes surprising) lists below.
High total fat Chinese dim sum
- Steamed beancurd sheet roll (鮮竹卷), 1 piece, 12g fat, 72% energy from fat
- Pan-fried beancurd sheet roll (煎腐皮卷), 1 piece, 11g fat, 76% energy from fat
- Steamed minced beef ball (山竹牛肉), 1 piece, 7g fat, 67% energy from fat
Commentary: Pan-fried and deep-fried Chinese dim sum was high in total fat. However, among 37 savoury Chinese dim sum prepared by steaming, the percentage energy from total fat of 12 Chinese dim sum was more than 50%.
High saturated fat Chinese dim sum
- Coconut milk yellow bean pudding (椰汁馬豆糕), 1 piece, 3g saturated fat, 24% energy from saturated fat
- Mango sago dessert with pomelo (楊枝甘露), 1 bowl, 5g saturated fat, 20% energy from saturated fat
- Baked barbecued pork puff (叉燒酥), 1 piece, 4g saturated fat, 20% energy from saturated fat
Commentary: Chinese dim sums with coconut milk, or lard contain very high saturated fat
High salt content Chinese dim sum
- Steamed chicken with fish maw (棉花雞), 640mg sodium/100g
- Steamed curry squid (咖哩蒸魷魚), 640mg sodium/100g
- Steamed chicken feet with black bean sauce (豉汁蒸鳳爪), 620mg sodium/100g
Commentary: High-sodium condiments, such as table salt, black bean sauce, and mono-sodium glutamate, contributed to the high sodium contents.
The most interesting part of the study was its recommended healthier menus. See page 18 of the document. Below is the suggested menu for 4 people. The main highlight of these menus is having half a plate of boiled vegetables for each diner, to achieve the right balance.
How close is this to what we ate last week at yum char?
Steamed glutinous rice roll (糯米卷), 2 pieces
Steamed barbecued pork bun (叉燒包), 3 pieces
Steamed rice-roll with shrimps (鮮蝦腸粉), 3 rolls
Boiled water spinach (白灼通菜), 1 plate
Boiled Chinese flowering cabbage (白灼菜心), 1 plate
Steamed stuffed dumpling with shrimp/ Siu mai (燒賣), 4 pieces
Sesame dessert/sweet soup (芝麻糊), 2 bowls