Eat healthy at Chinese restaurants

Tips to make healthier choices when ordering at your favorite Chinese restaurants.

Chinese food is a popular cuisine in the U.S. and a common “go-to” for a quick meal. The American version of Chinese food is different from traditional preparations. Most American prepared Chinese dishes are high in sodium and are served in large portion sizes. Reduce some of the calories when ordering Chinese food with these Michigan State University Extension healthy tips.

Watch out for oily and deep-fried foods

Lots of Chinese foods that are on the top people’s favorite lists are battered, deep-fried and coated in sweet and oil sauces, such as General Tso’s chicken, fried appetizers (wontons, eggrolls) and crab rangoon. These foods are high in fat and calories and should be ordered less or avoided. Instead, choose steamed, broiled, grilled, roasted or stir-fried foods. Examples include Hunan Chicken, Hunan Tofu, Moo Goo Gai Pan, Moo Shu Chicken (limit the sauce) and steamed dumplings.

Limit soy sauce and MSG

Soy sauce and MSG are commonly used for Chinese cooking, especially in Chinese restaurants. The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium per day. To eat healthier, ask for your sauce on the side and dip lightly in a few teaspoons to control your sodium level. You can also ask your server if they have a lower-sodium version.

Control the portion size

Portion sizes of main dishes in many restaurants are extreme. When ordering Chinese food, plan to share entrees with your friends. If smaller portions are not available, ask for a to-go box and reserve half of the main dish for lunch or dinner the next day – also a great way to save some money!

MSU Extension offers various educational programs for adults, families and children that focus on lifestyle changes to promote healthy eating. For more health and nutrition tips or to find a class in your community contact your local MSU Extension.

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