Chinese Takeout: What Are The Healthiest Picks?

by in Dining Out, March 22, 2014

takeout
This popular takeout fare tends to be on everyone’s speed dial. But it’s always good to know what the healthiest options are, especially when that deep-fried egg roll is calling your name.

Smarter Choices
Here are some phrases to look for:

  • Zheng: steamed
  • Jum: poached
  • Kao: roasted
  • Shao: barbecued

 

Appetizers and Soups
Soups, including hot and sour, egg drop and wonton, are typically among the lower calorie choices on this part of the menu. If you’re keeping an eye on sodium, though, soups aren’t the way to go (most can run around 800 milligrams per serving). As for other first courses, steamed spring rolls or steamed pork or vegetable dumplings are (not surprisingly) better picks than their fried counterparts. But the dough in dumplings can bring up the calories, so stick to one or two per meal.

Main Dishes
There are plenty of healthier protein options including fish and seafood, lean beef, chicken breast and tofu. But what makes something a better-for-you choice is how the dish is cooked. Steamed, broiled, roasted, poached, grilled and sauteed tend to be healthier cooking methods. And it’s not a bad idea to order your dish with the sauce on the side (2 to 3 tablespoons is plenty).

Not-So-Healthy Choices
These less-than-healthy options should be a once-in-a-while indulgence. Better yet, split them with a friend.

Appetizers and Soups
Fried appetizers like dumplings and egg rolls are usually brimming with calories. And if those crispy wonton strips are your weakness, tell the restaurant not to include them in your takeout order. An appetizer containing four barbecue spare ribs racks up 600 calories and – that’s before you dig into your main dish!

Everyone’s favorite noodle dishes, including lo mein and chow mein, are not only high in calories, they’re also brimming with sodium.

Main Dishes
Restaurant portions of General Tso’s chicken come in at around 1,300 calories and 3,200 milligrams of sodium (about 1½ times the daily recommendation for the latter). Coming in with a similar nutrition profile are deep-fried saucy items such as sesame chicken, lemon chicken and sweet and sour chicken (or pork).

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, CDN, is a registered dietitian and consultant who specializes in food safety and culinary nutrition. She is the author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day.

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Comments (6)

  1. […] Chinese Takeout: What Are The Healthiest Picks? Posted on March 22, 2014 by adminshout […]

  2. […] Not-So-Healthy Choices These less-than-healthy options should be …read more […]

  3. sprophet says:

    This is a great post! I'm going to re-post it on all of my social media pages.It's important to know which dishes are the best when eating out. How great would it be to have this guide at every restaurant? I also recently wrote about how to spice up not so great tasting take-out on my blog gaiagoodnessnaturalfood.wordpress.com. Check it out some time. Thanks for sharing this information.

  4. B.J. Rassam says:

    Some of those dishes have incredibly high portions of salt.

  5. Joe W says:

    if it tastes bad, is filled with green things it is good for you. If it tastes good and has fried food its bad for you. whole article reduced to one sentence.

  6. Kelli says:

    Everything in moderation

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