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Chinese-food Lovers, Beware

A report from the consumer group, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, says not much has changed since it reviewed Chinese// food 15 years back. It is still unhealthy.

According to the report, a plate of General Tso's chicken, for example, is loaded with about 40 percent more sodium and more than half the calories an average adult needs for an entire day.

The battered, fried chicken dish with vegetables has 1,300 calories, 3,200 milligrams of sodium and 11 grams of saturated fat.

This is before the rice (200 calories a cup) and after the egg rolls (200 calories and 400 milligrams of sodium).

A plate of stir-fried greens has 900 calories and 2,200 milligrams of sodium. And eggplant in garlic sauce has 1,000 calories and 2,000 milligrams of sodium.

“We were shocked. We assumed the vegetables were all low in calories", nutrition director Bonnie Liebmann, who did the report, said.

“Also surprising were some appetizers: An order of six steamed pork dumplings has 500 calories, and there's not much difference, about 10 calories per dumpling, if they're pan-fried”, he added.

Yet he conceded that while Chinese restaurant food is bad for your waistline and blood pressure - sodium contributes to hypertension – its vegetable-rich dishes and the kind of fat used, are quite all right if taken in moderation.

Says Liebmann: “Across the board, American restaurants need to cut back on calories and salt, and in the meantime, people should think of each meal as not one, but two, and bring home half for tomorrow.”

The group offers several tips for making a meal healthier:

-Look for dishes that feature vegetables instead of meat or noodles. Ask for extra broccoli, snow peas or other veggies.

-Steer clear of deep-fried meat, seafood or tofu. Order it stir-fried or braised.

-Hold the sauce, and eat with a fork or chopsticks to leave more sauce behind.

-Avoid salt, which means steering clear of the duck sauce, hot mustard, hoisin sauce and soy sauce.

-Share your meal or take half home for later.

-Ask for brown rice instead of white rice.

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