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Asian takeout food: Not all are lean cuisine

April 30, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Asian takeout seems to be a better choice health-wise than pizza or Mexican food because, for one, cheese isn't an issue. Yet, Chinese, Japanese and Thai food are not all lean cuisine. Here are some things to know before your next order:

Japanese rolls are traditionally made up of seaweed, a bit of rice and fish. But sushi houses may put rice inside and outside with several kinds of fish, avocado and a sauce. There's also tempura. Crunchy means fried, and fried means oil. So when it comes to rolls, rice and sauce - less is best.

Remember that edamame, or boiled soybeans, is about 120 calories for a half-cup, so keep an eye out on how many you pop. If they are tossing them in the wok with oil, those calories double.

When it comes to pad Thai, which has noodle, egg and peanut sauce, portions really count. Unless you're ordering a grocery store freezer meal, you'll down no less than 500 calories, and some entrees are close to 800.

Stir-fry veggies are a good choice, but watch what kind you choose: porous eggplants drink oil, while broccoli, snow peas or peppers rock.

What about dumplings or pot stickers? Experts say steamed pork dumplings are 80 calories a piece. The pan-fried version is only 10 calories more. But if you are having five or more, well, you do the math.

Tofu is an excellent protein source that is high in iron and fiber, but fry it up and you'll get three-quarters of your calories from fat. You don't want your tofu crispy if you are watching your bottom line.

Also, just one teaspoon of soy sauce meets your sodium needs for a day. That's something to think about before you add some to food with high sodium sauces.

Finally, remember an Asian entree should be shared. Oftentimes, there's food enough for three people, not one.

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