The other day, out of the blue, I was having a bit of a craving for Chinese food. This is unusual for me, but I was thinking of indulging myself. Then I read a nutritional dissection of the cuisine in Newsweek by Jayne Hurley and Bonnie Liebman, the authors of Chinese Restaurant Food: Wok Carefully. Their take on the most unhealthy Chinese food menu items certainly had me rethinking my decision to indulge – or at least stick to steamed meals with sauces on the side. Here are highlights:
- Fried rice and lo mein: "Those dishes are basically three quarters of a day's calories, and you're just getting four or five cups of white rice or white noodles with oil and a sprinkling of vegetables," Hurley says. They're especially dangerous because they're often served alongside people's main orders, she says, and deliver "not much more than a smattering of vegetables or protein from the meat."
- Chow fun: This dish is made of wider rice noodles and might taste more healthy than lo mein, but it's not. "The noodles are thicker, but they're going to do the same damage to your belly and blood pressure as the lo mein," Hurley says.
- Crispy (orange) beef: Many meat-based menu items simply offer "hunks of fried meat," Hurley says. "What you're getting is three quarters of a pound of deep-fried meat, garnished with vegetables," she says. The same goes for sweet and sour pork.
So there you have it. This is not to say that you shouldn’t eat Chinese food, because sometimes you need some take-out and a fortune cookie. Just try steer clear of the high-calorie, high-sodium, high-fat items like those listed above.