Savoring Wellness: Is American Chinese Food Healthy?

Chinese food is not inherently unhealthy,” according to dietitian Jill.

“But some American Chinese dishes can be high in calories, sodium, and MSG.”  (1)

This piques readers’ curiosity about the real truth behind American Chinese cuisine.

Will it expand their waistlines or provide balanced nutrition? 

Some claim it tastes indulgent but wreaks havoc on health.

Others argue moderation allows enjoyment without sacrifice.

Where does the truth lie? This guide delves into the science and myths around American Chinese staples.

Readers will learn straightforward tips to indulge wisely at their favorite takeout joint… 

…or recreate healthier versions at home.

The flavors we crave don’t have to derail health goals.


Is American Chinese food healthy?

  1. American Chinese food can be part of a healthy diet when choosing dishes rich in vegetables and lean proteins.
  2. Opting for grilled, steamed, or stir-fried options and being mindful of portion sizes enhances the healthiness of American Chinese cuisine. (2)

Is Chinese Food Nutritious or Unhealthy?

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Source: Xiran Jay Zhao

Many people think Chinese means lots of greasy fried dishes.

But did you know that traditionally, Chinese food can be really healthy? 

Let me explain in a way that’s easy to understand.

Long ago in China, cooks focused on using fresh and WHOLE ingredients.

They steamed foods, stir-fried with a little bit of oil, or made soups with broth instead of frying.

This brought out the flavors without using too much fat or oil.

Rice and noodles were prepared simply too.

This way of cooking highlighted the natural tastes of the food while keeping calories low.

Today in American Chinese restaurants, dishes often involve DEEP FRYING…

… or covering foods in thick, SWEET SAUCES.

While a fried dish as a special treat is okay, having it a lot isn’t good for your body.

Foods like egg rolls, orange chicken and fried rice have tons of calories, fat, salt and MSG…

… when deep fried or smothered in sauce.

But traditional Chinese cooking can actually be very nutritious! 

Dishes like rice, steamed vegetables, and BROWN rice are much more healthy choices.

They fill you up without extra calories from oil or sauces.

Chinese food doesn’t have to be bad for you – it just depends on how it’s made.

Learning more about traditional cooking helps make better choices!

Comparing Nutrition of Chinese vs American Dishes

Is American Chinese Food Healthy 2

Let’s look more closely at Chinese dishes to see which ones are healthier choices.

Steamed veggies are clearly the best – they keep…

… all their vitamins, minerals and fiber, but have very few calories since…

… they’re not cooked with extra things like oil or sauce.

Tofu is also great because even though it’s high in protein, it has almost no fat.

Soups with clear broth have lots of flavor but not extra calories.

Some dishes you want to be careful with are fried appetizers.

Just one crab RANGOON can have over 150 calories and 10 grams of fat! Egg rolls are similar.

Even stir fries and fried rice from American Chinese restaurants should be eaten in moderation.

A big cup could have over 300 calories and 15 grams of fat, especially…

… if swimming in oil or thick, creamy sauces.

The best bets are asking for dishes to be steamed, stir-fried with LITTLE oil or sauces on the “side.” This lets you control amounts.

BROWN rice with fiber and nutrients is better than white.

Meat like chicken or shrimp adds protein without too much fat if you watch your portions.

Knowing HOW foods are made is important for choosing healthy Chinese.

Traditionally simmered or steamed dishes are more nutritious.

But be careful of Americanized takeout with lots of DEEP FRIED or SAUCED items.

With a few tweaks, you can still enjoy all the FLAVORS of Chinese food in a healthier way!

Making Smart Ordering Choices

Is American Chinese Food Healthy 3

The next time you eat at a Chinese food restaurant, there are some easy things…

… you can do to make your meal a little bit healthier.

Instead of plain white rice, ask if you can SWITCH to BROWN rice.

It has more nutrients and fiber to fill you up.

You could also choose STEAMING, BROILING or BAKING instead of deep frying foods.

Those methods keep the flavors but use less extra fat and oil.

Requesting sauces “on the side” is another good idea.

Then you control how much you add to coats like STIR FRIED BEEF AND BROCCOLI.

A light splash of oyster sauce or BLACK BEAN SAUCE adds yummy taste without extra calories.

Think about limiting yourself to just one fried appetizer or go for a VEGGIE option like DIM SUM.

PROTEIN-filled dishes pair nicely with brown rice too, like MOO GOO GAI PAN…

… with chicken, mushrooms and Chinese veggies.

Making small simple switches like these while enjoying your favorite CHINESE CUISINE…

… can help cut calories and fat without feeling too restricted.

Your body and taste buds will thank you!

The Realistic Health Impact

Is American Chinese Food Healthy 4

It’s okay to get Chinese food for dinner every now and then, right? 

The truth is, eating out at your FAVORITE Chinese restaurant once a week probably…

… won’t make you feel really sick.

While Chinese chow mein or STEAMED DUMPLINGS may have more SALT…

… than cooking at home, an occasional helping is fine.

But packing on the pounds is a risk if you indulge too often.

All that greasy FRIED CHICKEN and Crab RANGOON adds up fast…

… in calories and fat over time if you don’t watch it.

Most experts say enjoying Chinese a few times a month is okay.

Your HEALTH and WAISTLINE shouldn’t see major effects.

But making it a nightly habit easily leads to weight gain down the road.

All those extra calories and fat add up!

The key is MODERATION.

It’s fine to treat yourself, but go lighter on high-fat sides most nights.

Stick with steamed VEGGIES or a protein-based dish like MOO GOO GAI PAN…

… topped with nuts or WATER CHESTNUTS for fiber.

Everything in balance keeps Chinese cuisine from affecting your overall DIET and wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is American Chinese food healthy?

American Chinese food often uses a lot of fat and sodium in popular dishes

… like kung pao chicken, lo mein, and sweet and sour chicken.

However, there are some healthy options you can choose.

Stir frying, which makes dishes like chow mein and beef and broccoli, can be…

… a nutritious way to cook if you use lean protein and lots of veggies.

Choose dishes with stir fry rather than refined carbs like lo mein noodles.

What are some of the healthier choices for Chinese takeout?

Some healthier options for Chinese takeout include steamed dishes like…

… steamed vegetables, steamed chicken, or steamed fish.

You could also ask for sauce on the side rather than having it cooked into the dish, to control…

… how much you add.

Hot and sour soup and spring rolls can also be relatively low in fat and sodium.

Are all Chinese dishes high in sodium?

While many common American Chinese food dishes are high in sodium due to ingredients like…

… soy sauce, not all Chinese food is.

Some healthier choices that are lower in sodium include dishes like stir fries made…

… with lots of fresh veggies and a small amount of lean protein like chicken or shrimp.

You could also start your meal with a salad with lettuce wraps to help fill you up with…

… fiber and reduce your sodium intake.

How can I make Chinese takeout options healthier?

There are several ways to make Chinese takeout healthier.

Ask for steamed rice instead of fried rice or lo mein.

Choose dishes with ingredients like stir fry vegetables, steamed…

… or grilled chicken, beef, or shrimp rather than deep fried or breaded meats.

Ask for sauce on the side so you control how much you add.

Consider appetizers like egg drop or hot and sour soup which are low in calories.

Portion out your meal into smaller plates so you don’t overeat high sodium and high fat foods.

Can Chinese food be part of a heart healthy diet?

Yes, with some modifications Chinese food can still be enjoyed as part of a heart healthy diet.

Focus on dishes that include more lean proteins like chicken, fish, shrimp and…

… prepare them with methods like steaming, stir-frying with lots of veggies rather than deep frying.

Go easy on high sodium ingredients like soy sauce.

Fill up on fiber from brown rice or vegetables rather than refined carbs.

Watch your portion sizes of high fat dishes.

With some adjustments, Chinese food does not need to be off limits for healthy eating.


American Chinese food can absolutely be part of a healthy diet with some simple modifications.

By opting for lighter cooking methods like…

… steaming or stir-frying, loading up on veggies, and avoiding deep-fried…

… and high-sodium dishes, you can still enjoy the traditional flavors without sabotaging your health goals.

Moderation and balance is key – the occasional indulgence in General Tso’s chicken…

… or crab rangoon won’t ruin an otherwise nutritious eating pattern.

MIX UP takeout with homemade versions using lean meats, whole grains and plenty of produce.

With a few easy tweaks, American Chinese food can provide delicious cuisine…

… that you will greatly appreciate.



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