How Can I Make Healthy Choices at an Asian Restaurant?

Are you craving some healthy Asian food?  Whether your taste buds are begging for Chinese, Thai, Japanese or another type of Asian food, it’s easy to find healthy choices at Asian restaurants when you know what to look for.  In general, focusing on vegetables, lean proteins and whole grains is a good start for sticking to a healthy diet, but when you aren’t able to look at specific nutrition information for menu choices, these tips can help you control calories, fat and sodium at Asian restaurants:

  1. Choose dishes that look like MyPlate.  If there’s one thing on which Asian foods rely, it’s vegetables.  Opt for one of the many dishes most likely on the menu with vegetables like broccoli, eggplant, peppers, mushrooms, cabbage and more to add vibrant nutrition and flavor to your meal.
  2. Order lean proteins.  At any Asian restaurant there are sure to be lean protein choices like chicken, fish, shrimp and even lean cuts of beef.  These meats flavor your meals, deliver nutrients like iron and protein and keep calories and saturated fat in check.
  3. Focus on flavor from spices.  Many Asian foods, like Thai food, are rich in flavor, thanks to powerful herbs and spices such as Thai basil, curry, turmeric, garlic and chilis.  Not only do many of these herbs and spices show promise for their positive effects on health, but they are also low in sodium, calories and fat.
  4. Request sauces on the side and limit soy sauce.  Condiments are often a key source of added calories and sodium in food, including both Asian and other kinds of cuisines, so requesting sauce on the side helps you control calories and fat by adding just a small amount as needed.
  5. Opt for brown rice whenever possible.  Whether it’s in your sushi or served on the side with your Chinese food, brown rice is a smart choice for adding fiber and nutrients to your meal.  Keep portions to half a cup, as even brown rice calories can add up quickly.

What’s your favorite Asian food and how do you keep it healthy when dining out at Asian restaurants?