Prof. Lim Do-sun at Korea University Anam Hospital, above, who authored "Samjeo Babsang," or three-lows to observe in recipes, stresses low sodium, low calories, and low fat in people's diet to stay healthy. / Courtesy of And Books
By Yoon Ja-young
During his 30-year-career as a cardiologist, Prof. Lim Do-sun at Korea University Anam Hospital successfully treated many patients. But some of them ended up returning to see him. Why? It was mostly because they continued their unhealthy dietary habits.
The doctor, who is one of the most renowned cardiologists in the country, saw how crucial it was to change one's diet, but he also realized that people are often reluctant to follow dietary guidelines provided by the hospital because they think such dishes don't taste good.
Prof. Lim, who has been trying to make changes, such as publishing a comic book to broaden people's understanding of heart disease, has since worked on improving the diet of heart patients during the past few years. "Samjeo Babsang," or three-lows to observe in recipes, authored by Lim and published by And Books, is the outcome of such efforts. Collaborating with the Ibabcha Cooking Institute, a cooking research institute operated by monthly recipe magazine Ibabcha, Lim focused on making tasty dishes with essential nutrition that anybody can easily cook with common ingredients. Supervised by Prof. Kim Hyun-sook at Sookmyung Women's University and other nutrition experts, the recipes suit not only heart patients but also anyone who wants to follow a healthy diet. The Korea Times has chosen this book to introduce some of its recipes from next week.
The "three lows" refers to low sodium, low calories, and low fat. The professor first points out that Koreans eat food that is too salty — while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium, or five grams of salt per day, Koreans take in an average of between 13 and 15 grams of salt.
The sodium, however, raises the blood pressure and causes heart diseases. The author cites research conducted in the United Kingdom, according to which the risk of cardiovascular disease is decreased by 25 percent with between a 25 to 35 percent cut in sodium. It can also help prevent strokes, kidney conditions and gastric diseases.
He says people can get used to less salty food as they change their diet — it is a habit that needs to be nurtured. He gives some tips on making tasty dishes while decreasing sodium. For instance, mushroom powder, black sesame powder, kelp powder, Japanese anchovy powder or shrimp powder can make excellent natural condiments. Black pepper, spring onion, garlic, and ginger will also make a dish tasty without having to add much salt. Soybean paste is also salty, but the doctor recommends choosing it instead of salt because you can decrease the intake of sodium — one gram of salt is equal to 10 grams of soybean paste in terms of sodium.
The doctor says that one had better avoid ham and sausage because they contain high levels of sodium, but if you insist on eating some, he advises boiling them in water before cooking. Taking them with vegetables and fruits, rich in potassium, can also help excretion of the sodium and fat from the body.
The following are some of the popular items people choose when they eat out but few people know that they contain large quantities of sodium. For instance, few people find bread to be salty, but the doctor points out that a piece of bread on average contains 230 milligrams of sodium. A piece of pizza has 760 milligrams, and fried chicken in sauce, popular here, has 3,315 milligrams of sodium — more than the daily recommendation. A bowl of soup has 940 milligrams, and a sandwich containing sauce contains 1,500 milligrams of sodium.
The doctor also stresses cutting trans fats, which cause cardiovascular diseases. The following are cooking tips to slash bad fat.
— When cooking vegetables, fish or meat, steam cook or bake them instead of frying them.
— Choose vegetable oils such as sesame, grape seed or olive.
— Don't use oil that's already been used. After opening the oil, store it in a cool place, avoiding sunlight.
— Refrain from eating muffins or cakes. If you insist, choose those made with organic or unsalted butter.