Too many of the wrong sort can make you obese and damage your heart, say officials Dim sum, the delicate, bite-sized morsels so beloved of Hong Kong people that for many their consumption is a daily ritual, could be bad for you. In the latest piece of bad news for diners, nutritionists have warned that too many of the wrong type may help cause ailments like obesity and heart disease. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said yesterday dim sum generally were high in fat and sodium and low in calcium and dietary fibre and should only be taken as part of a balanced diet. In a study of 75 popular dim sum dishes from 10 restaurants, the department found: Steamed and pan-fried beancurd sheet rolls with marinated jelly fish were the worst offenders, containing more than 70 per cent fat; Marinated jelly fish also scored the highest sodium level, along with steamed chicken with fish maw and steamed curry squid; and Coconut milk yellow bean pudding, baked barbecued pork puff and mango sago dessert with pomelo had the highest saturated fat. One restaurateur condemned the study as unrealistic. If diners paid too much heed to such warnings, 'we might as well all turn vegetarian', Michael Law Woon-cheung said. But the department said an excessive intake of high-fat and energy-dense food could cause obesity and cardiovascular diseases, while too much sodium could lead to hypertension, kidney disease and stomach cancer. The good news was that three of the most popular morsels, shrimp dumpling (haa gau), stuffed pork and shrimp dumpling (siu mai) and barbecued pork buns (char siu bau) did not make the top five on any of the three lists. The department said no dim sum could be labelled dangerous but warned against excessive consumption of any with high levels of the cited ingredients. 'It is more important to focus on an overall balanced diet than the nutrient contents in one particular type of foodstuff,' said Ho Yuk-yin, a consultant for community medicine at the department. The department said patrons should have half a plate of boiled vegetable without sauce along with their dim sum to increase dietary fibre and drink up to two glasses of low-fat dairy products during the day to increase calcium intake. Sylvia Lam Sze-wai, editor of the Hong Kong Dietician Association, said there were many hidden fats in the way dim sum were prepared, with lard being used in some. 'But it is okay to consume fatty food if people exercise regularly,' she said. Wanda Chong Wai-ling, marketing manager at the West Villa Restaurant in Taikoo Shing, said the restaurant tried to avoid using lard and fatty meats to cater to a more health-conscious crowd. 'People's tastes have changed. They tend to savour meat-less, plain and vegetarian-style steamed dim sum over the greasy pan fried and deep fried ones,' said Ms Chong. But Mr Law, at the Golden Dragon Chinese Cuisine Restaurant in Wong Tai Sin, said whether a dim sum was salty, sweet or fatty varied according to people's personal taste. 'There is no one special universal standard to rate them all.' He said some dim sum needed fat or they did not taste good. The public can access a list of foodstuff nutrient content including dim sum at www.fedh.gov.hk/niis .