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Fat/Oil, Salt & Sugar

Nutritional value and functions:

The fat or oil in food is a source of fatty acids for the body; it helps the human body absorb fat-soluble vitamins such as vitamin A, D, E and K. Sugar and salt provide the body with energy and sodium. Although the three substances are needed by the body, excessive intake is inadvisable.
Suggested amount of intake:


Suggested daily intake


Intake of such should take up 15-30% of total energy intake *

Oil for cooking should not exceed 25-30 g (6-7 teaspoons) per day #

Salt (sodium)

Preferably less than 2 000 mg* (slightly less than 1 level teaspoon of salt or 2 tablespoons of soy sauce)


Intake of such should be below 10% of total energy intake

Intake of such should be less than 50 g or 10 pieces of sugar cubes for a diet of say 2 000 kcal per day

1 teaspoon = 5 ml; 1 tablespoon = 15 ml

*from World Health Organization       # from Chinese Nutrition Society


Hidden oil/fat, salt and sugar in food:

As fat/oil, salt and sugar are hidden in a lot of foods, excessive intake is easy unless you take precautions:


  • Deep-fried foods: instant noodles, oil noodles (yau mien), deep-fried bean curd
  • Meat cut with high fat content, and processed meat: short ribs, lamb brisket, sausage, luncheon meat, Chinese preserved meat, pork balls
  • Others: pastries, waffle biscuits, coconut paste


  • Sauces: ready-made sauces (e.g. commercial black pepper sauce), "Swiss sauce" (a sauce made with sugar and soy sauce), fish sauce and shrimp paste
  • Pickled and processed foods: fermented black beans, meicai (a dried, pickled Chinese mustard), fermented bean curd, salted fish, ham, bacon, smoked duck breast


  • Natural sugars, such as cane sugar, fructose in fruit juice, honey, syrup
  • Foods and drinks with high sugar content: chocolate, ice-cream, cake, soft drinks, sweetened drinks in cartons

When purchasing pre-packaged food, refer to the food labels and choose products with lower content of fat, sugar and sodium (i.e. salt).