For the sheer sake of convenience, many people go down to their nearest convenience store for some Japanese oden or instant noodles as a quick and easy meal. The John Tung Foundation, however, has found that the average bowl of oden soup — 80 percent full — can contain between 600mg and 1,400mg of salt — a significant amount of variance.
Although convenience stores have specific standards and processes for diluting soups, many convenience store clerks adjust flavor according to their own individual palette, and by continuously heating soups and not adding water periodically, sodium levels rise as it continues to cook. The amount of sodium in spicy oden soup is much higher than that of clear-broth oden, so eating less of the food to avoid consuming too much sodium and subsequently harming your health is recommended.
According to the most recent national report on nutrition conducted by the Bureau of Health Promotion under the Department of Health (DOH), the average adult female consumes 3,567mg of sodium every day while the average male takes in 4,579mg, both significantly higher than the DOH’s recommended daily salt intake of 2,400mg.
Lu Hui-ju, one of the foundation’s nutritionists, says that Chinese people love eating soup, and according to the foundation’s recent survey, more than 80 percent of people are aware that salt, sauces and processed foods are all common sources of sodium, but overlook the fact that soup is also a significant source of sodium.
The foundation recently conducted a survey of sodium levels in 95 bowls of soup from buffet restaurants, bento box eateries, snack shops, luwei (meats, vegetables or tofu braised in a soy sauce broth) stands, convenience stores and hotpot establishments. The results showed that, although some soups at hotpot shops might taste bland, they can contain as much as 2,600mg of sodium in a single serving, which exceeds the recommended total daily amount of sodium a person should consume.
Lu says that excessive sodium intake can cause edema, hypertension, kidney disease, arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Many people mistakenly assume that if something does not taste salty that it must not contain much sodium, but sodium levels cannot actually be determined by looking at the color of a soup or at how thick it is. Lu suggests that people should reduce the amount of takeaway soups they eat, or at least check sodium levels prior to consumption, but says that the labels on soups at some convenience stores are too small, making them difficult to read and something that needs to be improved.
(Liberty Times, Translated by Kyle Jeffcoat)