Written by SaVanna Shoemaker, MS, RDN, LD and also Rachael Link, MS, RD — medically reviewed by Kathy W. Warwick, R.D., CDE, Nutrition — update on April 19, 2021

Chinese food takeout is delicious, but similar to other cuisines supplying takeout, some of the choices readily available can be high in salt, sugar, oil, and also processed additives.

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American-Chinese food, in particular, tends to be much sweeter and also saltier than timeless Chinese cuisine and also often attributes its own distinct flavors.

Luckily, there are some healthy takeout choices if you’re yearn Chinese food. Plus, you can constantly ask to have actually menu items adjusted to suit her taste. Furthermore, if girlfriend scan the menu, there space oftentimes a ar that offers choices that are reduced in fat, sugar, and salt.

Here room the 13 healthiest Chinese food takeout options, along with tips to choose entrées, side items, and sauces.


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1. Steamed dumplings
Dumplings available at a Chinese restaurant are pockets the dough filled through seasoned meat and vegetables, normally pork and cabbage.

They are regularly fried, but you can choose to have actually them steamed instead to reduced down ~ above calories and also fat. One medium steamed dumpling is only 40 calorie (1).

Although the soy-sauce-based dipping sauce is short in calories, it’s high in sodium, so shot to limit how much sauce friend use especially if she salt sensitive.


2. Hot and also sour soup or egg drop soup

Hot and also sour soup is made with mushrooms, bamboo shoots, eggs, and also ginger in chicken broth. It additionally contains vinegar and spices, which include the hot and also sour components to the dish.

On the various other hand, egg fall soup is made just with ribbons of cooked egg in chicken broth.

Both soups space low in calorie — containing just 65–90 calories every 1-cup (240 mL) offer — and also you deserve to make them even healthier by preventing the fried lo mein noodles that room often available as a topping (2, 3).


3. Moo goo gai pan

Moo goo gai pan is a lightly sauced chicken and vegetable stir-fry dish that has mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and also water chestnuts.

Because it’s complete of vegetables and lean chicken, it’s fairly low in calories. Furthermore, the chicken gives plenty the protein, making it a pour it until it is full dish. One cup (216 grams) contains only 160 calorie while providing 15 grams that protein (4).

Ask if you can have the sauce top top the next to control how much you consume since it could be high in salt and sugar.


4. Beef and broccoli

Beef and broccoli is a basic dish of stir-fried beef and also broccoli tossed in a irradiate sauce.

It’s a reasonably healthy dish that’s short in carbs and high in protein. However, it’s regularly made v fatty cuts of beef. One cup (217 grams) consists of 336 calories, 23 grams of fat, and also 23 grams the protein (5).

You have the right to reduce the fat contents by asking for steamed rather of stir-fried broccoli and also asking if it’s feasible to offer the sauce on the side.


5. Chop suey

Chop suey is another stir-fry dish made native meat, eggs, and also thinly sliced vegetable in a light sauce. It’s regularly made through pork, although part varieties might contain chicken, beef, or tofu.

Like various other stir-fries, the a healthier selection because it’s make from a protein resource and vegetables. One cup (220 grams) the pork chop suey with no noodles has 216 calories and also provides 23 grams of protein. It likewise contains around 9.5 grams the fat, and a restaurant version may have much more fat included during the stir-fry procedure (6).

Ideally, select a light sauce to more limit the salt and also sugar content.


6. Chicken and also broccoli

Chicken and broccoli is comparable to beef and also broccoli, consists of chicken and broccoli stir-fried in a irradiate sauce.

However, that a leaner alternative than beef and also broccoli that still uses plenty of protein. One cup (153 grams) offers 13 grams that protein and only 145 calories. It also contains around 7 grams the fat (7).

If possible, ask to have actually the dish steamed. Girlfriend will lose the oil the it’s usually cooked in, which will lower its fat and also calorie content to provide it a healthier twist.


7. Baked salmon

Many Chinese restaurants market a baked salmon option, i m sorry is a an excellent choice.

Baked salmon is high in protein, rich in healthy and balanced omega-3 fats, and cost-free of carbs. A 3-ounce (85-gram) portion cooked v butter contains 156 calories, 21 grams that protein, and also 7 grams the fat (8).

Paired with a side of steam vegetables, small salmon is a perfect entrée because that low carb or keto dieters.


8. Happy family

Happy family, or triple delight, is a stir-fry make from vegetables and also meat, such as chicken or pork, seafood, and vegetables.

It’s served in a thick brown sauce, typically over rice. Although its specific nutrition details is no available, happy family members is high in protein because it has both meat and also seafood, while the vegetables add fiber.

Like other stir-fries, friend can choose light sauce to limit the added calories, fat, sugar, and salt.


9. Buddha’s delight

Buddha’s happiness is a great option because that vegans and also vegetarians. That a stir-fry made through tofu and also steamed vegetables prefer bok choy, cabbage, and also broccoli in a light, savory sauce.

Because it’s fully plant-based, it has some fiber, as well as protein native the tofu. One cup (217 grams) provides 193 calories and contains 3 grams of fiber and also 9 grams that protein (9).

Additionally, tofu is just one of the few complete proteins obtainable to vegans and also vegetarians, an interpretation it consists of all ripe of the necessary amino acids your body needs to build brand-new proteins (10).


10. Moo shu vegetables

Vegetables take facility stage in this famous takeout dish, which commonly features ingredients choose stir-fried pork, shredded cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and onions.

Although the exact nutrient content deserve to vary based on which ingredients room used, one cup (151 grams) typically contains roughly 230 calorie and virtually 16 grams of protein. Also, that contains about 16 grams the fat, yet like many stir-fry dishes, fat content have the right to vary relying on the restaurant (11).

To maximize the potential heatlh benefits, go light on the sauce and also consider omitted the side of pancakes that it’s usually offered with.


11. Eggplant v garlic sauce

Eggplant with garlic sauce is a dish made up of smoky, grilled eggplant topped v a rich and also tangy garlic sauce.

Eggplant, the star ingredient that the dish, is short in calories and a good source the several an essential nutrients, including fiber, manganese, folate, and also potassium (12).

It likewise features several other nutrient-dense ingredients, such together garlic, ginger, and peppers.

Opt for a next of brown rice quite than white rice to bump up the fiber contents of your meal and squeeze in an extra offer of entirety grains.


12. Kung pao chicken

Kung pao chicken is a spicy Sichuan dish that contains stir-fried chicken with peanuts, chili peppers, and also vegetables.

Not just is that high in protein and micronutrients choose niacin and selenium, however it’s likewise topped through peanuts, which space a great source that heart-healthy monounsaturated fat (13, 14).

Try questioning the restaurant to litter in some extra veggies and also consider limiting your portion size if you’re keeping an eye ~ above your salt intake, together it sometimes contains high amounts of salt.


13. Shrimp with lobster sauce

Despite its name, shrimp with lobster sauce does no actually contain lobster. Instead, that made using a fermented black color bean sauce frequently used to prepare lobster in timeless Cantonese cuisine.

In addition to stir-fried shrimp, the dish generally contains veggies like peas, carrots, garlic, and also scallions.

Compared to countless other takeout options, it’s fairly low in calories and high in protein, v 31 grams that protein and also 279 calories in a 1-cup (185-gram) serving. It likewise contains 14.5 grams of fat (15).

You can also boost the accessible fiber, vitamins, and also minerals through requesting extra vegetable such together broccoli, mushrooms, or bell peppers.


Choosing a healthy entrée

When trying to order healthier Chinese takeout foods items or any type of takeout foods, it’s necessary to be conscious of the cooking technique that’s used.

Many entrées at Chinese restaurants space battered and also deep fried, and should be avoided, as they’re high in included fat, starch, and calories.

Others may be water-velveted, or coated in cornstarch, to administer the smooth, velvety structure of the meat in countless stir-fries. Water-velveting is healthier than deep frying, however it quiet adds extra starchy carbs and calories.

Ideally, friend should pick entrées that are baked, steamed, boiled, or sautéed in a tiny amount that oil.

Additionally, it’s important to consider serving size. The nutrition information detailed here is for a 1-cup offer (200–240 grams), i m sorry is the typical serving size for a takeout entrée — specifically stir-fry dishes. However it’s vital to note that a solitary order of takeout may contain as much as 4 cups.

To limit calories, measure the end an appropriate section size and save the remainder for various other meals.

Summary

You should try to choose entrées that are baked, steamed, boiled, or sautéed. Water-velveting adds some carbs and also calories, while deep-fried entrées room much higher in fat, carbs, and also calories.


Healthiest side items

Another important factor to consider when choosing healthier Chinese food takeout choices is your side item.

Typical side dishes choose fried rice, lo mein noodles, crab rangoon, and also egg rolls are high in calories — and also fat.

Healthier options include steam brown rice, sautéed or steam vegetables, feather rolls, or soups like egg drop soup or hot and also sour soup.

Veggie-based items like edamame, lettuce wraps, braised bamboo shoots, or cucumber salad room a few other an excellent options you can try.

Summary

Healthy Chinese food takeout sides include steamed brown rice, sautéed or steam vegetables, feather rolls, soups, and also veggie-based items prefer edamame, lettuce wraps, or salads.


Healthiest sauces

Most American-Chinese food takeout dishes are likewise served in some sort of sauce. Sauces can be a significant source the calories, fat, sugar, and salt in meals — also if it no seem prefer there’s lot sauce.

Generally, thicker and stickier sauces, together as general Tso’s, are higher in sugar and calories, while thinner sauces are lower in calories uneven they’re really oily.

Order your dish with light sauce or sauce ~ above the next so you can control how much is included to your food.

Summary

Sauces deserve to be a huge resource of calories from sugar, fat, and also salt. Shot to choose light sauces or ask because that the sauce ~ above the side.


A note around MSG

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is a controversial additive that’s uncovered in part American Chinese food dishes. It’s also found in other takeout foods and canned soups, dressings, and snacks.

It’s a concentrated resource of salty and savory umami flavor and also has a flavor file reminiscent of soybean beans sauce (16).

However, MSG has long to be the topic of scientific controversy. Some world claim the it causes headaches, asthma, and weight gain, however there’s small evidence to assistance these claims (17, 18, 19).

Recent research has found that MSG presents small risk of damage to most human being when spend in moderate amounts (21).

Regardless, if you concerned around MSG in her food, be sure to asking your local Chinese restaurant if they use it. Considering the controversy surrounding the substance, some Chinese restaurants have actually chosen to protect against using the additive.

Summary

MSG is a common but controversial ingredient in countless Chinese food takeout dishes. Still, this additive is for sure to consume in normal amounts.


The bottom line

Although part takeout choices at Chinese restaurants are considered unhealthy, there are healthy options as well.

Stir-fries room a an excellent option because they save on computer protein native meat or tofu, as well as vegetables, which include fiber and nutrients.

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You can also choose healthier options and next dishes, and also limit the quantity of sauce on her food and your part size.

With this guide, it’s straightforward to choose healthier choices at her favorite Chinese restaurant.