Chinese New Year is just around the corner, and abalone is back on the menu. If you’re somehow unaware of what abalone is, it’s a common name for the gastropod mollusk or sea snail.
As you’re chowing down on your well-deserved abalone this festive season, have you ever wondered if it could be worth replacing the tried-and-true chicken breast?
A Hefty Price Tag
The abalone is most associated with Chinese culture, being served during Chinese New Year or special occasions. This culinary staple symbolises good fortune, which is very apt considering its hefty price tag. From brands such as New Moon to Fortune to Golden Chef, abalone doesn’t come cheap.
Due to the labour-intensive harvesting and limited supply (they take 4 years to mature!), your wallet might take a hit if you want to replace incorporate it into your diet.
Is It Worth The Price?
So the most important question of all. Is it worthy of replacing your protein-filled chicken breast? Let’s take a look at the Health Promotion Board’s Energy & Nutrient Composition of Food database.
Nutritional Info of Chicken Breast (100g)
- 104.78 calories
- 22.3g protein
- 1.60 g fat
- 0.00g carbs
- 41.00mg sodium
The mighty chicken breast is the best source of protein for a reason. It has low fat, low calories, no carbs and is loaded with the good stuff. The chicken breast also comes with very little sodium, so you definitely won’t exceed the recommended 5g (or less) a day.
Nutritional Info of Canned Abalone (100g)
- 101 calories
- 21.80g protein
- 0.50 g fat
- 1.00g carbs
- 600mg sodium
The popular option for Chinese New Year, canned abalone is convenient and tastes great. Not only that, but it also has less of the fishy smell that its counterparts have. But how does it stack up?
Not too bad, actually. It has fewer calories than the chicken breast, while falling just short on protein. While it comes with a few carbs, having less fat is also a boon.
However, the sodium count might be problematic, as it comes with 14 times the amount that the chicken breast does.
Do note that this nutritional information does not include the brine or sauce that the canned version comes with.
Overall, while canned abalone is a very solid substitute for the chicken breast, it simply has too much sodium to be a permanent replacement.
Nutritional Info of Fresh Abalone (100g)
- 61 calories
- 13.00g protein
- 0.40g fat
- 0.60g carbs
- 480mg sodium
The cheaper alternative to the canned abalone, fresh abalone has a slightly fishier smell which may be a problem for some. However, with a lack of seasoning, you can also use various recipes and see if it’s to your liking.
In terms of nutrition, 100g might not be enough for your protein needs. To compare them better, here’s the 200g equivalent.
Nutritional Info of Fresh Abalone (200g)
- 122 calories
- 26.00g protein
- 0.80g fat
- 1.20g carbs
- 960mg sodium
With that, we can see that it comes with more protein (3.7g) than even the chicken breast. In terms of fat, it compares well with the protein-packed bird, having half the amount of fat.
However, the 960mg of sodium is a big problem, eating up 20 per cent of your daily recommended intake. Therefore, it’s definitely a worse choice than the canned version.
Nutritional Info of Dried Abalone (100g)
- 303 calories
- 64.50g protein
- 2.00g fat
- 2.90g carbs
- 3000mg sodium
That’s a pretty astonishing amount of protein. Dried abalone comes in at just over 3 times the amount of calories as the chicken breast, and a little below 3 times the protein.
While that sounds promising if you want to get your fill quickly, that sodium content makes it an absolute no-no as a protein replacement.
In a teaspoon (10.5g), dried abalone comes in at a whopping 315mg of sodium. Even when enjoying dried abalone normally, it’s important to eat it in moderation if you’re trying to be healthy.
Nutritional Info of Mock Abalone (100g)
- 53 calories
- 0.80g protein
- 2.50g fat
- 0.60 carbs
- 408mg sodium
It’s really cheap compared to your other options, but it’s definitely not worth the price to get your protein fill. Despite having only 53 calories, it only has a measly 0.8g of protein, making it the worst option here.
Stick to the pricier, actual version if you want to add it to your diet.
Overall, abalone might be worth trying out when you get bored of chicken breast. However, the deal breaker is that all the different versions simply contain too much sodium to be a staple of your diet.
The abalone is admittedly delicious, so enjoy it during special occasions (such as Chinese New Year) but do eat in moderation. Forget about eating it every day while staying healthy, it’s simply not going to happen.
By Muhd Farhan