Healthy Dining Finder - Healthy choices at Chinese restaurants
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What are healthy choices at Chinese restaurants?

Q: I love to eat at Chinese restaurants, but I don’t know what menu items are healthy choices. Any suggestions?                  -Anonymous Reader

A: Fantastic question! Lucky for you—and for all of us, it’s not too hard to eat healthy at Chinese restaurants; you just need to know what to look out for and what to avoid. Use these tips next time you’re dining out:

  • Soup for starters. Starting a meal with soup can actually help decrease calorie intake from the entire meal. Regardless of cuisine, broth-based soups are often lower in calories and fat than cream-based soups. Choose from miso, hot and sour, or egg drop soup to start.
  • Know your appetizers. Appetizers can be excellent sources of vegetables and lean protein, but they can also be diet-destroyers. Choose vegetable-heavy apps—and only those that are not fried. Some good choices: vegetable spring rolls (vs. fried egg rolls), steamed vegetable dumplings (vs. fried dumplings), and lettuce wraps.
  • Focus on vegetables. Whatever your entrée, make sure it contains veggies! Vegetables add vitamins and phytochemicals to your meal; their fiber helps to fill you up; and they add great flavor. Common vegetables in Chinese dishes include broccoli, mushrooms, Chinese eggplant, cabbage, green onions, peppers, and bean sprouts.
  • Be wary of sauces. They can add tremendous amounts of calories, fat, sodium, and/or sugar. To reduce your intake of these not-so-healthy components while keeping the delicious flavor, ask for your dish to be prepared with half the usual amount of sauce.
  • Steamed anything is your friend. Whether meats, vegetables, appetizers, or starchy side-dishes, choose steamed, broiled, roasted, or stir-fried options over breaded and fried options. Choose a stir-fried Kung Pao Chicken dish over the fried General Tso’s Chicken. Opt for steamed brown or white rice instead of fried rice or oil-laden Lo Mein noodles.  Nibble on steamed edamame instead of fried crab rangoons. If you’re not sure if something is fried, ask!
  • Practice using chopsticks. Chopsticks naturally keep your mouthful to a minimum, and therefore they require you to eat more slowly. If your chopstick skills are lacking—your meal will take even longer! Believe it or not, this is a good thing; eating slowly allows your body to better enjoy the meal and to recognize your hunger and satiety levels—helping you to stop eating before over-indulging.
  • Savor the fortune cookie. Clocking it at only 30 calories and 4 grams of sugar each, this fat-free dessert is the perfect way to end a meal without piling on empty calories from fried, fat-, or sugar-laden desserts.

Whatever type of cuisine you’re in the mood for, you can find Healthy Dining choices at restaurants in your area by searching ZIP code or city and state at For some of our dietitian-approved Chinese dishes, check out these menu items:

  • Chicken N' Broccoli Stir-fry with Brown Rice at Tin Drum Asia Café
    (620 calories, 20 g fat)
    Located in GA

  • Small Plates: Shrimp Shumai, Steamed (Serves 2) at RAW Sushi & Sake Lounge
    (100 calories, 1 g fat)
    Located in Philadelphia, PA

  • Kung Pao Chicken (1/2 Order) at City Wok
    (570 calories, 26 g fat)
    Located in Southern CA, DC

  • Tony’s Special Eggplant with Shrimp (Lunch) at Imperial Dynasty
    (610 calories, 19 g fat, 610 mg sodium)
    Located in Longwood, FL

  • Fresh Basil Spring Rolls at Mama Fu’s Asian House
    (290 calories, 7 g fat, 640 mg sodium)
    Located in AR, FL, NC, OH, TX

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*The information posted here is for educational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. Each individual is responsible, in cooperation with his or her physician, dietitian or other health consultant, for making personal dietary decisions.


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