Eating Chinese Cuisine on a Low Cholesterol Diet

Chinese food is a popular option for lunch or dinner whether you are dining out or eating take-out at home. Although delicious, some foods in Chinese cuisine can pose a problem if you are watching your cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Some Chinese food options can be high in fat, which could affect your lipid levels if you consume these foods on a regular basis. These healthy tips will show you how to consume your favorite Chinese foods while you’re watching your cholesterol levels whether you are eating at your favorite Chinese restaurant or cooking your favorite recipes.

Bowl of mie noodles with vegetables
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Choose Vegetable-Laden Dishes

Vegetables are a staple in the Chinese diet and are low in calories and fat. Veggies commonly found in Chinese cuisine include onions, peppers, sprouts, and mushrooms, among many others. Although vegetables themselves do not contribute fat to your diet, you should be careful as to how these vegetables are prepared since some of the cooking methods used to prepare these vegetables could introduce extra fat into your diet:

  • Avoid or minimize vegetables cooked through “stir fry” or cooked in oil, since those may contain extra fat.
  • Select vegetables that state they are cooked through steaming or roasting since these measures do not generally add extra fat and calories to the preparation process.

Soups and Other Sides

Soups, salads, and other finger foods, such as egg rolls, are great to snack on before the main course arrives, but could also be potential contributors of fat and calories in your meal.

In general, soups and salads in Chinese cuisine do not contain a significant amount of saturated fat. Even some of the soups that have potentially fattier ingredients, such as wonton soup or egg drop soup, are not extremely high in saturated fat. However, you should watch your intake of these soups, since they can add up if you consume them in large quantities. Additionally, you should skip adding the extra sauce or fried noodles on top of the soup or salad which can add even more fat.

Although most appetizers, such as egg rolls, contain low-fat foods and lean meats, they are also fried — which can increase your trans fat intake. Therefore, you should limit the consumption of these foods. If cooking these foods at home, you can substitute with outer egg roll crust with lettuce or with spring roll paper (without deep frying them). If eating out, you can ask the server how the food is prepared to assist you in making healthy food choices.

Main Dishes

Rice, fish, and poultry are also staples in Chinese cuisine, which are also foods that do not add a significantly high amount of saturated fat to your diet. However, just as with other cuisines, some ingredients or preparation methods may affect your fat intake.

  • Some Chinese dishes contain pork or red meat, which can contribute fat and calories to your dish. If you are trying to cut fat from your dish, try to substitute a leaner protein in your dishes, such as tofu or poultry.
  • Avoid dishes that state that they are “stir-fried” or “deep fried”, as these foods have been cooked in oils or may have a crispy batter on them which could also contribute fat.
  • If you have a choice, select whole-grain rice over white rice, which contains a higher amount of fiber, a cholesterol-friendly ingredient.
  • If certain sauces are served with your dish, ask for the sauces to be served on the side and add as needed for flavor. Some sauces may contain high amounts of fat, salt (soy sauce) or sugar (sweet and sour sauce), which could aggravate other health conditions and cancel out the vegetable’s healthy properties.

Lastly, use portion control. Some restaurants are notorious for providing large servings of food, so you shouldn’t overdo it. If needed, request a container to take the rest home for another meal.

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  1. Cleveland Clinic. Crave chinese food? tips for heart-healthy asian cuisine. October 14, 2015