We all like 'yummy' food. And to make something tasty, we cannot do without seasonings - such as soya or oyster sauce, salt, pepper and monosodium glutamate (MSG). But a dietician has warned against using too many substances to enhance flavour. He says that adding fresh and healthy ingredients will let us enjoy the food as well as keep us healthy. 'I'm not against using seasonings but we need to control the amount we use,' says Leslie Chan, a registered dietician at the Hong Kong Council of Early Childhood Education and Services. 'We have to watch our sodium or salt intake.' A recent study conducted by The Chinese University of Hong Kong has revealed that Hong Kong people are consuming 25 per cent more salt than 16 years ago. According to Mr Chan, we should not eat more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium a day - this can be found in one teaspoon of salt or two-and-a-half tablespoons of soya sauce or MSG. If you've had one-and-a-half tablespoons of fish sauce, or four tablespoons of oyster sauce, you should not have any more seasonings on the same day. 'Too much salt intake will lead to dehydration, high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases and kidney problems,' Mr Chan explains. 'Many of the seasonings used in Chinese cooking contain a lot of fat. One tablespoon of soya paste has eight grams of fat, and there are five grams [of fat] in one teaspoon of sesame oil and six grams in one tablespoon of XO sauce. 'A normal adult needs no more than 60 grams of fat a day. 'Even ketchup, which is considered to be healthier, contains a lot of sugar.' Mr Chan says in contrast to general belief, MSG is no worse than any other seasoning, such as soya sauce. 'People tend to think that MSG is dangerous. It is actually the sodium version of glutamic acid, and glutamate is a naturally occurring amino acid that exists in many foods, especially high-protein foods,' he says. 'So you may find glutamate in meat, seafood, mushrooms, soya sauce and oyster sauce. 'Like other seasonings, MSG is safe to use, as long as you don't overdo it. Otherwise, the sodium intake will be too high.' It has been reported that MSG can cause a reaction in some people. As the ingredient is widely used in Chinese cooking, such cases are called the 'Chinese Restaurant Syndrome'. But Mr Chan says scientific studies have yet to show any direct link between MSG and allergies suffered by people. 'If you have reactions after eating MSG, you'd better avoid seafood or other high-protein foods as you could be allergic to the glutamic acid,' he explains. Mr Chan urges people to cut down on seasonings. Fresh ingredients, instead of processed or preserved food, should be used in cooking, and some seasonings replaced with natural herbs, he says. 'Adding the seasonings just before you finish cooking the dish also helps,' Mr Chan adds.