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The Unhealthiest Chinese Dishes To Avoid

Like many people, I love to indulge in take-out food, like Chinese, when I get the chance.

Spicy sweet and sour general tso chicken with fried rice

Cooking at home can get tiring. However, I’m aware that many comfort food dishes on a Chinese restaurant’s menu are not the healthiest for your body due to fried foods, high-fat ingredients, and an overload of sodium.

Most traditional Chinese dishes are actually quite healthy for you, but Americanized Chinese restaurants tend to serve up fried and unhealthier options.

While it may be okay to have this food every once in a while, your body can suffer some serious consequences later in life if you eat it too often.

So, next time you take a look at a Chinese restaurant menu, keep these most unhealthy Chinese dishes in mind.

Some of these Chinese takeout dishes are my favorites – but they’re also not the best for your health. Indulge on them in moderation!

General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s chicken is one of my favorite dishes to order, but it’s rather unhealthy due to the battered and fried chicken, along with the sugar sauce it comes with.

A typical order of General Tso’s chicken has 87.7 grams of fat, which isn’t good for your heart.

It also has 62.1 grams of sugar, and your body should only have 50 grams per day at most.

Fried Rice

Fried rice is another delicious dish on most Chinese menus that I love, but it adds a lot of extra calories and carbohydrates to your meal.

One cup of fried rice from a restaurant usually has 43.2 grams of carbohydrates.

While it does have some protein if you add meat or tofu, it’s still not the healthiest.

Lo Mein

Lo mein is another dish that adds extra unneeded calories and carbohydrates to your meal.

The noodles used for this dish typically have white flour in them, which has close to no nutrients in it.

The white flour creation process removes germ and bran, which are great nutrients for your body.

Opting for noodles made with wheat is always better.

Barbecue Spare Ribs

While barbecue spare ribs are slightly good for you at about 17 grams of protein per serving, they are sugary and fatty.

This cut of meat usually comes from the pig’s belly region, where most of its fat sits.

Fat is horrible for your arteries and heart health, making barbecue spare ribs another of the most unhealthy Chinese dishes. 

Crab Rangoon

Crab rangoon might not seem that bad because the wontons are usually quite small, but they’re still fried and contain a lot of fat.

A single crab rangoon can have about 67 calories and 4.7 grams of fat.

If you have too much fat in your diet, weight gain and heart disease are possible.

Fried Egg Rolls

Many Chinese fried egg rolls are chock full of vegetables and meats, making you think that they probably aren’t that bad for your health.

However, they do have quite a bit of fat, and a lot of it has to do with the fact that they get fried.

Fried food can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart problems, and a shortened life if you eat them too often.

Fried Pork Dumplings

I love dumplings, and they’re always a go-to for me.

The pork within the dumplings isn’t too much of a problem, but the dumpling shell itself might be.

One dumpling has about 13 grams of protein but has 13 grams of carbohydrates and six grams of fat.

The fatty oil they get fried in is also not the greatest for your heart. Enjoy them on occasion, but remember that they aren’t the healthiest choice.

Sweet and Sour Chicken

While a serving of sweet and sour chicken has a high amount of protein, the sauce it’s in will provide your body with 19 grams of added sugar.

That’s 38% of your recommended daily intake of sugar. Too much sugar in your diet can lead to the following:

  • Nutrition issues
  • Weight gain
  • Increased fat in your bloodstream
  • Decaying teeth

Sweet and Sour Pork

Similar to the chicken, the sweet and sour pork provides you with a fair amount of protein to keep your body full.

However, the sugar and fat content isn’t worth it. Pork tends to have more fat than chicken as well, so a serving of sweet and sour chicken will have about 34 grams of fat.

Orange Beef

Orange beef involves pieces of beef being deep-fried until golden, and then the pieces get tossed in a sugary sauce.

Both of these processes aren’t good for your health. One cup of orange beef has about 38 grams of carbohydrates and 34 grams of fat. 

It’s also very high in sodium at 1,260 milligrams. The daily recommended sodium intake is less than 2,300 milligrams per day. Orange beef accounts for over 50% of your daily intake.

Chow Fun

Chow fun typically consists of a stir fry of noodles, beef, and vegetables.

This dish is slightly better for you due to the lower fat and sodium content compared to other dishes.

However, it is a rather greasy dish because it gets stir-fried in oil. Depending on the restaurant’s sauce, it can also have a lot of calories.

Chow Mein

Chow mein uses noodles, which can hike up calories and carbohydrates.

However, the sodium content makes it one of the worst foods for you, at about 1,000 grams per serving.

High sodium diets can lead to high blood pressure, which puts your body at risk for strokes and heart disease.

Orange Chicken

I love this dish, but like the orange beef, the orange chicken dish includes deep-fried pieces of meat and a sugary sauce.

This process leads to 23 grams of fat, 51 grams of carbohydrates, and 19 grams of sugar per one-ounce serving.

The sodium is also on the higher side at 820 milligrams. 

Chinese food is a favorite cuisine among many people around the world, including myself. However, most Chinese dishes have high amounts of fat, sugar, carbohydrates, and sodium, which are terrible for your heart and general health.

Look closer at the menu to find some healthier options, or indulge on special occasions!

Use this list of the most unhealthy Chinese dishes to help determine your next Chinese food order. While they may not be the healthiest, you can also learn about the different Chinese dumplings to enjoy for your next cheat day!


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  1. As a Chinese, I never saw these dishes in real Chinese restaurants. I mean, these dishes are all Americanized versions. And, what the hell is the orange Beef, Chicken? General Tso’s Chicken, this dish, just look at the name, I know it’s so Americanized…

  2. None of these dishes are actually Chinese, they’re just Americanized with only a few Chinese ingredients. Real Chinese food is often very healthy and packed with nutrients, and suggesting otherwise is super ignorant. Americans keep blaming their health mistakes on other cultures. “Chinese food is unhealthy” isn’t true, but the “Chinese” takeout is. How terrible.

  3. Some of the most healthy ingredients ever found were developed by the Chinese. That’s why America is loaded with diabetes and heart problems. I love Chinese food. USDA Allows this to happen to American recipes, salt,salt,salt!!!!!

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Written by Erin Elizabeth

Erin is an editor and food writer who loves traveling and trying new foods and fun cocktails. Erin has been writing and editing professionally for 5 years since graduating from Temple University, and has been on the Restaurant Clicks team for 3 years. She has a long background working in the restaurant industry, and is an avid home chef and baker. Her favorite restaurants are those with spicy food and outdoor seating so that she can bring along her dog, Miss Piggy.