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Your Healthy Chinese Food Cheat Sheet

The Best Low-Calorie Chinese Food Isn't Always Obvious

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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.)


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Don't Order: Vegetable Lo Mein

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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.)

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Order This: Buddha's Delight

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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.

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Don't Order: Steamed Pork Dumplings

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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

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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.

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Don't Order: Chicken with Black Bean Sauce

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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.

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Order This: Chicken with Snow Peas

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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.

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Don't Order: Szechuan Shrimp

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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

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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.

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Don't Order: Orange Beef

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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.

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Order This: Beef with Broccoli

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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!)

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