Your Healthy Chinese Food Cheat Sheet
The Best Low-Calorie Chinese Food Isn't Always Obvious
Even some healthy-sounding options can set you back 1,000+ calories. Here, the five dishes to pick and the five to skip. (Calorie counts are per dish, not per serving, and are approximate due to restaurant variations.)
Don't Order: Vegetable Lo Mein
Veggies are always a good idea, but here they don't outweigh the huge mound of noodles, which weigh in at 200 calories per cup. (And that's without sauce!) A dish of lo mein can have upwards of 900 calories, which mostly come from refined carbs. (These 12 spiralized veggie recipes are so much healthier.)
Order This: Buddha's Delight
You can usually count on getting plenty of steamed tofu and a variety of vegetables—making for a protein- and fiber-packed meal that has only about 200 calories per platter.
Don't Order: Steamed Pork Dumplings
With 500 calories for six pieces, dumplings may not sound like diet derailers—but it's a lot for an appetizer. (The veggie version saves you 100 calories.)
Order This: Wonton Soup
This starter has just around 100 calories, and you still get to enjoy a few dumplings. Plus, it may be more filling: Several studies have shown that having soup before a meal helps you eat less overall. Or make your own healthy soup that will keep you satisfied.
Don't Order: Chicken with Black Bean Sauce
At 800 calories per order, it's not too bad if you split it. But you can do better: It has more sodium (about 4,000 milligrams) than most others.
Order This: Chicken with Snow Peas
Request that the dish be stir-fried in as little oil as possible and you can keep the calories to a respectable 400. The sodium, while still high, also drops to less than 1,600 milligrams.
Don't Order: Szechuan Shrimp
Stir-fried shrimp and vegetables in a spicy sauce seems like a guilt-free pick, but the sauce is often oily, meaning your order racks up around 700 calories. Try some citrus shrimp lettuce cups instead.
Order This: Shrimp with Lobster Sauce
You get the same lean, high-protein shellfish—but topped with a broth- or wine-based sauce—for 450 calories. Ask the restaurant to add snow peas or broccoli for an extra hit of vitamins.
Don't Order: Orange Beef
Yes, it may sound light, but this dish usually involves batter-coating and frying the meat, then topping it with a gloppy sauce. Expect 1,200 calories an order.
Order This: Beef with Broccoli
It's hard to find a low-cal beef option—and with 900 calories per platter, this is definitely one you want to share. On the plus side, you're getting a hefty dose of one of the most nutritious veggies on the planet. (Broccoli can even help you beat anxiety!)