Along with French, Turkish and Italian, Chinese is one of the top four cuisines in the world and it is very important part of daily life for Chinese people. Chinese cooking is really quite healthy, as it includes a number of vegetables, rice and noodles. Also, it includes no cheese and utilizes a lot of seafood and lean poultry. Additionally, Chinese cuisine utilizes vegetable oil, which, in moderate amounts, has enough unsaturated fat to neutralize the cholesterol-raising properties of the saturated fat that it contains. Chinese people include the philosophy of Yin and Yang in their food that helps them to maintain the balance in the food texture, color and flavor of the ancient Chinese food. Nowadays, low carb variety of ancient Chinese food is also available. So, diet conscious people can also consume Chinese food.
Generally, Chinese people are not as worried about nutrition as Western culture; they are more concerned with the food’s texture, flavor, color, and aroma. For good Chinese cuisine, these are the vital points. Chinese people are mostly lactose intolerant and so they do not consume large amounts of dairy products. Instead of dairy products, they substitute their food with soy-milk and tofu which also contain large amounts of protein and calcium. Daily meals of Chinese people consist of four food groups: grains, vegetables, fruit, and meat. Typically, Chinese meals incorporate a number of vegetables, rice and noodles but the preparation in most restaurants frequently cancels out the nutritional value of the food.
Chinese Food Nutrition Facts:
- Fruits, vegetables, meat and grains are the main food groups in daily Chinese cooking; however meat is more like a condiment in comparison with veggies.
- Due to common lactose intolerance, Chinese people substitute dairy products with tofu and soy milk.
- In China, green tea is common especially after meals because it helps digestion. Green tea has also other benefits such as preventing cancer, contributing to oral health, helping with weight loss because it raises metabolism and lowering your blood sugar.
- Chinese use vegetable oil in their dishes, which (In moderation) has enough unsaturated fat to counteract the cholesterol-raising properties of the saturated fat that it contains.
- Traditional Chinese food has low glycemic index, it is not loaded with simple sugars or other high GI ingredients.
- With the use of chopsticks, you will naturally eat slower and you will not pick up as much sauce.
Nutrition Facts and calories of various Chinese Dishes:
- The Kung Pao Chicken contains nuts like peanuts or cashew nuts, which make it high in calories. Also, they are healthy for you. Along with nuts, the dish can also be prepared with vegetables such as green peppers and okra. One plate serving (which comes with vegetables) has 1,400 calories and 2,600 mg of sodium.
- A vegetable Chinese dish is also a healthy choice. For example, a plate of Stir-Fried Greens (including spinach) has 900 calories (this is roughly half the calories required in one day for the average adult) and 2,200 mg of sodium (this is roughly a whole day’s worth for the average adult).
- Tofu (a bean curd) is a common Chinese food in vegetarian diets. It supplies same amount of calories and sodium as in the Stir-Fried Greens, when deep-fried as it in the Tofu & Mixed Vegetable dish. It is good for health.
- The Shrimp is also a very popular Chinese dish. Shrimp with Garlic Sauce dish with vegetables is lower in calories (700). However, they are very high in sodium (3,000 mg).
- Chicken is considered better for health than red meat however not when it is fried like it is in the General Tso’s Chicken dish (which comes with vegetables). This dish has 1,300 calories and a whopping 3,200 mg of sodium.
- The Sweet & Sour Pork dish has lower sodium (because of more sugar). However, it has 1,300 calories.
- A modest number of calories are provided by wonton, egg-drop, or hot and sour soups. They also provide a low sodium and satisfying meal, or portion if prepared without large quantities of salt.
Soy is a common ingredient of Chinese dishes, especially tofu. It is a loaded with plant protein and fiber. Also, it is rich in Vitamin B6 and isoflavones, which are widely believed by experts to provide nutritional benefits. For essential amino acids, vitamin B6 is an important building block and is used in certain vital neurotransmitters. Several studies have shown that isoflavones are important part of the low heart disease rate in Asian countries. They are considered to help lower LDL cholesterol levels.
Tips for Eating Chinese Food:
- Blood pressure increasing sodium and cholesterol raising saturated fat are the hidden unhealthy ingredients present in the sauce. If you carefully order your food, you can acquire low salt, low sodium food.
- Soups Chinese foods are fine for weight loss however they may affect your blood pressure levels as hot and sour, egg drop, wanton soups, etc., are all low in fat but high in sodium.
- The healthy steamed vegetables and lean meat may turn unhealthy while sitting in a warm pool of sticky sauce all day. You can inquire the sauce to be placed on the side and there is no need of dumping the sauce over your food. First, immerse your chopsticks in sauce and then pick up the vegetables or meat. You will easily acquire the sauce’s flavor and at the same time, you will be capable to avoid ingesting enormous amounts of fat and sodium.
- Eating with chop sticks stops you from picking up too much of sauce.
- You can order plain steamed brown rice which is healthier.
- Avoid creamy dressings or crispy noodles in the salads.
- Avoid consuming crab rangoons or barbecued spare ribs as starters.
- Steamed vegetables without sauce would also be a healthier option.
- Steamed dumplings are healthier than deep or pan fried dumplings.
- Small quantities of hot mustard are fine. You just have to be careful as each packet has a substantial helping of sodium inside.
- Instead of pork, you can select vegetable filling, so as to halve your saturated fat intake.
- Chicken/shrimp/pork fried rice is worse in saturated fat, calories and sodium.
- Spring rolls are healthier than egg rolls.
- Enjoy healthy flavorings like rice-wine vinegar, wasabi and ginger.
- You don’t require eating the crispy chow noodles that frequently come free with your meal since they are very high in fat.
- Avoid sauces or order dishes with little sauce. If you do include a sauce, order it on the side and use minimal amounts with each bite.
- In place of white/fried rice, order brown/steamed rice.
Same as in case with the cooking of any other culture, there is no intrinsic good or bad to all Chinese dishes. While selecting dishes, look at calories, fat percentage and the levels of sodium and other components. To arrive at reasonable dietary decisions, it is the best way in any instance.