Chinese Food Nutrition Facts: Menu Choices & Calories

Best and Worst Health Choices at Chinese Restaurants

healthy Chinese food options
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Can you figure out the best healthy Chinese food options when you're at your favorite restaurant? Or perhaps you like to cook Chinese food at home. Do you know which Chinese food is healthiest to prepare? If you're on a diet to improve your health or lose weight, use this guide to choose low-calorie Chinese food at home or out on the town. 

Analyzing the Chinese Menu

If you're at your local Chinese restaurant, take some time to evaluate the menu before you order.

There are often pages and pages of choices. If you're not familiar with the ingredients, be sure to ask your server to get important nutritional information.

And don't be shy! Ask for entrees or appetizers to be customized to meet your dietary needs. Ask for sauces on the side or for high-fat, high-calorie side dishes to be replaced with steamed vegetables. And if you're trying to cut back on starchy carbohydrates, ask for brown rice instead of white rice. Brown rice provides more diet-friendly fiber that can help you feel full to eat less.

Most Popular Chinese Food 

Chow Mein Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 1 cup (45 g)
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 237 
Calories from Fat 125 
Total Fat 13.8g21%
Saturated Fat 2g10%
Polyunsaturated Fat 7.8g 
Monounsaturated Fat 3.5g 
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 198mg8%
Potassium 54mg2%
Carbohydrates 25.9g9%
Dietary Fiber 1.8g7%
Sugars 0.1g 
Protein 3.8g 
Vitamin A 0% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 1% · Iron 12%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Chow mein is one of the most popular dishes on the menu at Chinese restaurants, especially in the United States. Chow mein is a fried egg noodle dish. Often, stir fried meat or vegetables are added to the dish. 

The calories in chow mein are not very high (as indicated on the Nutrition Facts label) but keep in mind the calorie and fat counts are for a one-cup serving.

Diners often eat two or three cups when they dine in a family-style Chinese restaurant.

Egg rolls are another popular Chinese menu item. Nutrition for egg rolls will vary depending on how they are prepared. Fried egg rolls with pork or shrimp can provide 100-200 calories per roll. But steamed rice paper egg rolls are likely to provide less than 100 calories per roll.

Healthiest Options on the Chinese Menu

Healthier Chinese food choices will include plenty of steamed vegetables, like brocolli or pea pods and broth. Some of the more popular healthy items on a Chinese menu include:

  • hot and sour soup
  • wonton soup
  • steamed spring roll
  • teriyaki chicken skewers
  • dishes made with steamed or boiled chicken or shrimp
  • steamed vegetables
  • vegetable, lean meat or fish stir-fry (request less oil to be used in preparation)
  • bok choy

Least Healthy Options on the Chinese Menu 

Even though many traditional Chinese foods are healthy, some are not. Foods that are fried or covered in sweet or creamy sauces are likely to be high in fat, high in sugar and high in calories.

You can always order these foods and try to eat just a small portion, but that can be tricky in a Chinese restaurant because foods are often served family-style. 

If you are trying to improve your diet or lose weight, you may want to limit or avoid these menu items:

  • battered or fried appetizers
  • traditional egg rolls that are fried
  • General Tso's chicken
  • Kung Pao chicken
  • duck dishes that are high in fat
  • dishes that are covered with rich sauces (like Hoisin or sweet and sour sauce)

If you are trying to limit your salt intake, you should also ask your server for recommendations. Many Chinese foods (especially Chinese take-out foods) are prepared with a lot of sodium.

Healthy Chinese Foods to Cook at Home

If you love Chinese food, you'll save calories and money if you cook it at home. When you choose a healthy Chinese food recipe, you can control the ingredients and even swap out ingredients to lower the fat and calorie content.

Try any of these recipes at home.

Remember that it doesn't matter where you choose to eat, if you want to enjoy a healthy Chinese meal, portion control​, and smart food choices make all the difference. 

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