Watch for hidden salt in Chinese cooking

Article added by on Category: Healthy eating

Today on the blog, Life! facilitator and Accredited Practising Dietitian, Dr Tammie Choi, explores hidden salt in Chinese cooking.

Tammie delivers the Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CALD) Life! program in Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin). For more information, call 13 RISK (13 7475) or email her directly at

The facts about salt (sodium)

You only need a small amount of salt in your diet for your body to work properly. Too much salt can increase your blood pressure and your risk of conditions such as heart disease and stroke.

  • Australians are consuming far too much salt. The average person has a daily intake of about 9 grams of salt per day (3450mg). This is much more than we need.

  • To reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke reduce your intake to less than 6 grams or one teaspoon of salt a day (2300mg).

  • If you have high blood pressure or are at risk of heart disease or stroke, you should aim to eat less than 4 grams a day or 2/3 of a teaspoon (1600mg).

  • Be mindful of hidden salt. Salt is used in food manufacturing for flavouring and as a preservative.

Hidden salt in Chinese food

Chinese food contains a lot of hidden salt. Many popular Chinese restaurant meals contain excessive amounts of hidden salt. Some popular examples include:

  • Beef brisket noodles (3100mg)

  • Yangzhou fried rice (3100mg)

  • Wanton soup noodles (2900mg)

  • Curry chicken rice (2300mg)

It is also important to be mindful of hidden salt when cooking Chinese meals at home. Many popular Chinese ingredients contain high levels of salt, including:

  • Sauces: soy sauce(880mg per tbsp), oyster sauce(490mg per tbsp), fish sauce (1400mg per tbsp) 

  • Preserved vegetables (up to 1450mg per 20g)

  • Preserved fruit (up to 500mg in 1 serve) 

  • Preserved meat (Chinese sausage and salted fish)

  • Noodles (salt is often added during the manufacturing process to make the noodles chewy)

 ChineseSausage soy sauce  dried fruit 

Tips to reduce hidden salt

Remember everything adds up, so be mindful of how much hidden salt you are consuming. Here are some tips to lower your salt intake: 

  • Use herbs, spices, fresh ginger, garlic, chilli, vinegars and lemon and lime juices/zest to cooking in place of sauces.

  • Choose mostly fresh foods such as vegetables, fruit, dairy products and alternatives, lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes.

  • Cook at home more often, limit take-away meals.

  • Use only a very small amount of salty sauces or use salt reduced options.

  • Avoid adding extra salt or sauces to your meal at the dinner table.

  • Limit your intake of preserved fruit, vegetables and meats.

Tip: Slowly reducing the amount of salt you eat can help your taste buds adjust.

fresh ingredients

Enrol in the CALD Life! program 

In addition to Chinese, the Life! program is offered in Vietnamese and simplified English. For more information on your eligibility into the CALD Life! program call 13 RISK (13 7475) or click here

Health professionals 

Do you speak Chinese, or another language? We are currently seeking bi-lingual health professionals to facilitate the CALD Life! program. If you are interested, email Louise Green.

About Tammie

Tammie is an Accredited Practising Dietitian who has good knowledge of the Chinese diet. She works at Carrington Health, in the heart of the Chinese Melbournian community. She has recently completed her PhD in culturally tailoring diabetes education for Chinese Australians. 

tammie choi


  • No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment

Leave your comment

Guest 22.06.2021