Chinese food is one of America’s top ethnic cuisines, and it has also become a Christmas Day tradition for thousands of families. Therefore, the odds are high that you enjoy Chinese food on a regular basis. Whether you make it yourself, dine in or grab some carryout, there are many ways that you can increase the healthiness factor. In fact, with the following tips, you don’t have to feel guilty about not cutting this food out of your life during your post-holidays diet.
1. Ask for Sauce on the Side
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The typical brown or white sauce that comes with Chinese food may taste delicious, but it’s also high in sodium and offers very minimal essential nutrients. Fortunately, you can dramatically reduce your sodium intake and cut out some of the calories and fat by choosing to get your sauce on the side. Simply cut the portion provided in half, or even more if you’d like, for a tasty and healthier final result.
2. Add Spicy Options
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Spicy food contains anti-inflammatory agents. For examples, all peppers provide a valuable source of capsaicin, and this is known to inhibit inflammation. If you struggle with inflammation, it is definitely wise to choose spicy items from the menu. A good example is Authentic Dan Dan Noodle Sauce because its ingredients include three red chili peppers. Even if your local Chinese restaurant doesn’t offer this sauce, you can utilize Z & Y Chinese Restaurant’s recipe to make your own. Adding a spicy twist to your food is a healthy choice, especially for those with an autoinflammatory disease.
3. Increase the Veggies
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It’s wise to consume a minimum of five servings of vegetables per day. Unfortunately, only 13 percent of Americans actually fulfill this daily requirement. This can lead to many health complications, including nutrient deficiencies and gastrointestinal issues. Although many people automatically equate Chinese food with meat, the reality is that there are many vegetarian friendly options. Even if you don’t decide to get a fully vegetarian meal, you can ask for a larger quantity of vegetables to give yourself a healthier dining experience.
4. Substitute Meat with Tofu
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Another way to feel fulfilled with Chinese vegetarian food is to choose tofu as your protein source. An examination of 3 ounces of chicken versus 3 ounces of tofu showcases the fact that tofu is an overall healthier choice. Tofu is lower in calories and saturated fat. Tofu also has zero cholesterol, as opposed to the staggeringly large amount of cholesterol in each serving of chicken. Additionally, tofu offers larger amounts of fiber, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc and folate.
5. Stay Away from Fried Food
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Rice is a staple of Chinese food, but you typically have a choice between steamed and fried. Even though you may prefer the taste of fried rice, it’s important to know that it contains a lot more calories than the steamed alternative. A large serving of fried rice typically contains 1,719 calories. Meanwhile, the same 1,023 gram serving of steamed rice has a significantly lower calorie count of 1,317. Choosing steamed cuts out approximately 402 calories. Even better, you could order a small serving of steamed rice instead to get your calories down near the 200 mark. It’s also vital to be aware that dumplings can be ordered steamed instead of fried. Many of the appetizers on a Chinese menu are fried, so it’s best to skip them altogether.
6. Order Tea with Your Meal
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If you want something other than water to accompany your meal, consider choosing tea to take advantage of all of the natural antioxidants. Green and white teas are especially high in antioxidants. This matters because antioxidants help protect the body from damage caused by free radicals. There is some evidence that increasing your consumption of antioxidants can reduce your risk of developing certain types of cancer, and it’s also believed to make skin healthier. Make sure you avoid sweetened tea to prevent yourself from accidentally ingesting a large quantity of sugar.
7. Steer Clear of Sugary Sauce
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Speaking of sugar, anyone who is diabetic, hypoglycemic or attempting to lose weight should avoid Chinese sauce that is very sweet. General Tso’s sauce, honey orange and sweet and sour sauce are especially high on the list of overly sugary offenders. Each of these sauces has at least 7 grams of sugar per serving, and honey orange packs a staggering 16 grams into a relatively small amount of sauce. Studies have found that sugar is the number one enemy of weight loss and healthy weight management, so be sure to cut as much of it out of your diet as possible.
8. Ask for Low Sodium Alternatives
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Another major health problem that many Americans are dealing with is an excess amount of sodium in their diet. As a result, 33 percent of Americans develop high blood pressure. Elevated quantities of sodium also increase your risk of stomach cancer, stroke, osteoporosis, kidney disease and heart failure. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Americans consume at least double the daily recommended amount of sodium.
You can get this under control by choosing healthier alternatives such as low sodium soy sauce. For comparison’s sake, regular soy sauce typically has 879 mg of sodium in one tablespoon. Low sodium soy sauce is a much better choice with its 176 mg of sodium per serving. You can also skip adding salt to your Chinese food, and don’t be afraid to ask the restaurant to avoid adding extra salt on their end.
Taking these steps will make your food taste a bit different, but people can usually adjust to such changes after only a few meals. You can also take inspiration from the weight loss benefits of eating your food like they do in China. This is a cultural viewpoint of food that includes skipping snacks, always eating at the same predetermined times and dining with family members. Even if these ideas aren’t feasible for your lifestyle, it’s still possible to lose some weight and feel healthier by incorporating a diet that is lower in sodium and higher in vegetables.
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