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

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

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

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

Here space the 13 healthiest Chinese food takeout options, along with tips to pick entrées, side items, and also sauces.


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1. Steam dumplings
Dumplings offered at a Chinese restaurant are pockets that dough filled through seasoned meat and also vegetables, typically pork and cabbage.

They are frequently fried, yet you can choose to have actually them steamed instead to cut down ~ above calories and fat. One medium steamed dumpling is just 40 calorie (1).

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


2. Hot and also sour soup or egg autumn soup

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

On the various other hand, egg drop soup is made merely with ribbons of cook egg in chicken broth.

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


3. Moo goo gai pan

Moo goo gai pan is a easy sauced chicken and also vegetable stir-fry food that consists of mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and water chestnuts.

Because it’s full of vegetables and also lean chicken, it’s relatively low in calories. Furthermore, the chicken gives plenty the protein, making that a filling dish. One cup (216 grams) includes only 160 calories while offering 15 grams the protein (4).

Ask if you have the right to have the sauce on the side to manage how lot you consume due to the fact that it could be high in salt and sugar.


4. Beef and broccoli

Beef and broccoli is a basic dish that stir-fried beef and broccoli tossed in a light sauce.

It’s a reasonably healthy food that’s low in carbs and high in protein. However, it’s frequently made through fatty cut of beef. One cup (217 grams) consists of 336 calories, 23 grams that fat, and 23 grams the protein (5).

You can reduce the fat content by questioning for steamed instead of stir-fried broccoli and also asking if it’s possible to serve the sauce top top the side.


5. Chop suey

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

Like other stir-fries, that a healthier selection because it’s made from a protein resource and vegetables. One cup (220 grams) of pork chop suey v no noodles consists of 216 calories and also provides 23 grams of protein. It additionally contains about 9.5 grams that fat, and a restaurant version might have an ext fat added during the stir-fry process (6).

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


6. Chicken and broccoli

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

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

If possible, ask to have the food steamed. Friend will lose the oil that it’s generally cooked in, i beg your pardon will reduced its fat and also calorie content to offer it a healthier twist.


7. Small salmon

Many Chinese restaurants offer a baked salmon option, which is a an excellent choice.

Baked salmon is high in protein, wealthy in healthy omega-3 fats, and complimentary of carbs. A 3-ounce (85-gram) section cooked through butter consists of 156 calories, 21 grams the protein, and also 7 grams the fat (8).

Paired v a next of steamed vegetables, small salmon is a perfect entrée for low carbohydrate or keto dieters.


8. Happy family

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

It’s served in a thick brown sauce, usually over rice. Back its exact nutrition details is not available, happy family members is high in protein due to the fact that it includes both meat and also seafood, when the vegetables add fiber.

Like various other stir-fries, you can pick light sauce to border the included calories, fat, sugar, and salt.


9. Buddha’s delight

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

Because it’s completely plant-based, it includes some fiber, as well as protein from the tofu. One cup (217 grams) gives 193 calories and contains 3 grams of fiber and also 9 grams of protein (9).

Additionally, tofu is among the couple of complete proteins accessible to vegans and also vegetarians, meaning it contains all nine of the essential amino acids her body requirements to build brand-new proteins (10).


10. Moo shu vegetables

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

Although the precise nutrient content deserve to vary based upon which ingredients space used, one cup (151 grams) typically contains roughly 230 calorie and practically 16 grams that protein. Also, that contains around 16 grams the fat, however like many stir-fry dishes, fat content have the right to vary relying on the restaurant (11).

To maximize the potential heatlh benefits, walk light ~ above the sauce and consider skip the side of pancakes the it’s usually offered with.


11. Eggplant v garlic sauce

Eggplant v garlic sauce is a dish consisted of of smoky, grilled egg plant topped v a rich and tangy garlic sauce.

Eggplant, the star ingredient that the dish, is short in calories and also a great source that several crucial nutrients, consisting of fiber, manganese, folate, and potassium (12).

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

Opt for a next of brown rice rather than white rice to bang up the fiber contents of her meal and squeeze in an extra serving of entirety grains.


12. Kung pao chicken

Kung pao chicken is a spicy Sichuan dish that includes stir-fried chicken through peanuts, chili peppers, and vegetables.

Not just is that high in protein and micronutrients prefer niacin and selenium, however it’s additionally topped through peanuts, which are a great source of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (13, 14).

Try asking the restaurant to litter in part extra veggies and consider limiting your section size if you’re maintaining an eye ~ above your salt intake, as it sometimes contains high quantities of salt.


13. Shrimp v lobster sauce

Despite the name, shrimp through lobster sauce does not actually contain lobster. Instead, it’s made making use of a fermented black bean sauce often used to prepare lobster in classic Cantonese cuisine.

In enhancement to stir-fried shrimp, the dish commonly contains veggies like peas, carrots, garlic, and scallions.

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

You can also boost the easily accessible fiber, vitamins, and also minerals by requesting extra vegetables such as broccoli, mushrooms, or bell peppers.


Choosing a healthy and balanced entrée

When trying to order healthier Chinese takeout foodstuffs or any type of takeout foods, it’s vital to be conscious of the cooking method that’s used.

Many entrées at Chinese restaurants are battered and deep fried, and should it is in avoided, together they’re high in included fat, starch, and calories.

Others might be water-velveted, or coated in cornstarch, to provide the smooth, velvety texture of the meat in plenty of stir-fries. Water-velveting is healthier than deep frying, yet it tho adds extra starchy carbs and also calories.

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

Additionally, it’s crucial to take into consideration serving size. The nutrition information detailed here is for a 1-cup serving (200–240 grams), which is the usual serving size for a takeout entrée — specifically stir-fry dishes. Yet it’s important to keep in mind that a solitary order of takeout may contain as much as 4 cups.

To limit calories, measure out an appropriate part size and save the remainder for other meals.

Summary

You should shot to choose entrées that space 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 selecting healthier Chinese food takeout options is her side item.

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

Healthier selections include steamed brown rice, sautéed or steam vegetables, spring rolls, or soups like egg autumn soup or hot and also sour soup.

Veggie-based items prefer edamame, lettuce wraps, braised bamboo shoots, or cucumber salad space a couple of other good options you deserve to try.

Summary

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


Most American-Chinese food takeout bowl are additionally served in some type of sauce. Sauces have the right to be a significant source that calories, fat, sugar, and salt in meals — also if it doesn’t seem prefer there’s lot sauce.

Generally, thicker and stickier sauces, such as general Tso’s, are greater in sugar and also calories, while thinner sauces are lower in calories uneven they’re an extremely oily.

Order her dish v light sauce or sauce on the next so girlfriend can control how much is included to your food.

Summary

Sauces have the right to be a huge resource of calorie from sugar, fat, and salt. Shot to pick light sauces or ask because that the sauce on the side.


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

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

However, MSG has actually long been the subject of clinical controversy. Some human being claim that it causes headaches, asthma, and also weight gain, yet there’s little evidence to assistance these insurance claims (17, 18, 19).

Recent study has uncovered that MSG presents small risk of harm to most people when spend in moderate amounts (21).

Regardless, if she concerned about MSG in your food, be sure to ask your regional Chinese restaurant if they use it. Considering the debate surrounding the substance, some Chinese restaurants have actually chosen to protect against using the additive.

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Summary

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