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Healthy Options in Chinese Food

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healthNutritional analysis of Chinese dishes show that they are extremely high in calorific value, sodium content, high fat content and high in simple carbohydrates (which behave like sugar in your body). Many Chinese dishes are high on soy, which increases sodium content drastically in the food. Excess sodium leads to increase in blood pressure and retention of water, which increases your weight and makes you look bloated and fat.

So, whats a solution? Clearly, not eating Chinese food is a bad solution 🙂  But you can make healthy choices while ordering Chinese food.

Lets start with everyone’s favorite .. those little steamed eatables called Dim Sum – You think its healthy because its steamed. But Dim Sum is primarily made of maida (refined flour), which causes your blood sugar to spike (watch out diabetics) and promotes fat storage. For starters, go for stuff that’s stir fried, chicken satay, flavored veggies, or a clear soup with veggies and/or meat in it. Or you can skip the starters and go for the main course

The main course is like a mine field of bad health bombs. Stir Fried dishes are good, since they are relatively low on sodium, are cooked fast and in lesser oil (since its not deep fried). Stay away from that Manchurian. First its wrapped in maida (refined flour), then its deep fried. Then its soaked in a high sodium sauce. Is there a better way to spell HEALTH D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R. Basically, stay away from anything that’s served as dough wrapped balls in sauce. All sauces, from Black Bean to Sweet and Sour are drowning in sodium. And some of them have loads of sugar added, like Sweet and Sour or Garlic.

For your starch options, there’s another mine field. The noodles are all made from refined flour and then they are soaked in oil and flavoring (including soy) – you know what that does, so stay away from it. The fried rice is a slightly better option, since its rice based, but again, lots of oil and soy, since rice soaks both of them fast! The best option is steamed rice. Besides, the relatively lower calories, it reduces your sodium intake. Also, it gives you a chance to really taste the flavor of the dishes. Try jasmine rice, it smells fantastic.

Stay Healthy and Drink Green TeaIn dessert, I’m yet to find a true Chinese dessert. All the standard Indian versions of Chinese dessert are pretty unhealthy- darsaan (fried dough with sugar), sugar coated walnuts, fried ice-cream. Do I even need to get into why these aren’t good choices? Chinese joints aren’t known for their chocolate based delicacies. Stay off it, even its on the menu 🙂

Our advice, go for the fresh fruits for a light and a sweet finish. Don’t forget to get some of that green tea or jasmine tea.  You know, green tea is good for you.

By Fitho

The Chinese Quest welcomes original articles pertaining to the Chinese dining experience.  Your article should pertain to Chinese restaurants, Chinese food, etc.  For more information, please contact us.

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  1. I love steamed vegetables, a healthy rice dish, and something with chicken. Though I know some of the glazed chicken entrees can be full of sugar. What could you think of to suggest to a Chinese restaurant for a healthy dessert option?

    • That is a great question. Mee thinks, it’s going to make me do a little research for a future article.

      Until then you can never go wrong by serving fruit for dessert. Not only is it very healthy, but it tastes great after Chinese food!

      Here’s another choice, pumpkin barley dessert (aka sweet soup or “Tong Sui” in Cantonese). In addition to its great taste, this dessert is also very nutritional to us and packs a lot of health benefits!

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