When eaten in China, there’s no doubt that Chinese food is healthy. The Chinese focus on vegetables or tofu and use only a very small amount of meat. Unfortunately, the Westernised versions of Chinese food are often very oily, salty and contain huge amounts of monosodium glutamate, to which many people are allergic.
However, it is certainly possible to cook healthy Chinese food at home because you are completely in control of the ingredients. In fact, with careful choices even a meal eaten in a Chinese restaurant or taken home can be healthy.
In general, steamed, poached, grilled, barbequed, roasted or stir fried are good and deep fried, battered and breaded are bad. Here are some examples of how to choose a healthy Chinese meal.
If your local Chinese restaurant offers prawn crackers on arrival, don’t eat them. Better still ask for them to be taken away so that you won’t be tempted because these will have been deep fried.
For starters, avoid spring rolls, wontons or seaweed (fried) and spare ribs (fatty and in a sticky sauce). A good option is soup as it will help to fill you up. Choose hot and sour or chicken and vegetable and you can’t go far wrong.
For your main course, choose a steamed, poached or stir fried dish which features lots of vegetables. Something with prawns, fish or chicken will be less calorie laden than duck, pork or beef. Of course, you could just have vegetables as these will be varied and crunchy.
Avoid like the plague sweet and sour dishes which, depending on the restaurant, may be balls of greasy batter with a tiny piece of meat inside, covered in sticky sweet sauce. In fact, most Chinese sauces are rather unhealthy because they either contain sugar in the form of Hoisin or Oyster sauce or corn flour for thickening. Opt for steamed rice rather fried. As all stir fried dishes are freshly cooked, you can also request that the chef uses a minimal amount of oil and halves the amount of sauce on your choice.
For dessert, don’t be tempted by the toffee apples or bananas, just have plain fresh fruit.
Drink plenty of water and you’ll find you won’t have as much room in your stomach for food.
Another tip is to eat your meal with chopsticks. Chances are that you will fill up more quickly by eating slowly and you just can’t devour as much as you can with a knife and fork.
So, yes, Chinese food is healthy if you choose the right dishes.