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The Best and Worst Takeout


Healthy and Delicious Choices

If you like THAI, go for:

  • Thai-style chicken: It's loaded with vegetables and sometimes served in a hollowed-out pineapple. It's your five a day in one eye-catching meal.
  • Summer rolls: usually wrapped in low-calorie rice paper and filled with bean sprouts and other steamed vegetables, shrimp and/or fish.

But Steer clear of:

  • Peanut sauce: "It's delicious but loaded with fat," says Joan Carter, R.D., an instructor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and a trained chef.
  • Thai tea: Sweetened with condensed milk and loaded with heavy cream or half-and-half, it's virtually a dessert.

If you like CHINESE, go for:

  • Wonton soup: It's light, refreshing and flavorful. One caveat: it can be high in sodium, so be sure to drink a lot of water.
  • Beef, chicken or shrimp with broccoli (heavy on the green stuff). Ask for the sauce on the side.
  • Brown rice: It's richer in nutrients and higher in fiber than white rice, so you'll crave fewer fortune cookies.

But Steer clear of:

  • Chow mein noodles and anything else that's crispy, crunchy and deep-fried, says Laura Olsen, R.D., a dietitian in private practice in Brooklyn.
  • Sweet-and-sour pork: Underneath all that calorie-packed sweet sauce are big chunks of deep-fried pork.
  • Kung Pao chicken: A typical order could be "garnished" with up to a half pound of cashews (read: 30 grams of fat).

More Healthy and Delicious Choices

If you like MEXICAN go for:

  • Chicken or vegetable fajitas: Sautéed with just enough oil to prevent sticking, they're one of the healthiest choices at many Mexican eateries. Ask for whole-wheat tortillas for more nutrients.
  • Black bean soup: It'll fill you up (beans are packed with fiber) and, as a bonus, help prevent heart disease.
  • Plain bean burrito: Ask for lettuce and salsa inside, and nix the cheese and sour cream to keep the calorie count down.

But Steer clear of:

  • Nachos: They're tasty, but the deep-fried chips, full-fat cheese and sour cream, and guacamole are a dietitian's nightmare.
  • Tacos and taquitos: The shells are often deep-fried, and the meat is usually dripping with grease.
  • Tacos and taquitos: The shells are often deep-fried, and the meat is usually dripping with grease.

If you like INDIAN, go for:

  • Tandoori anything: "The meat is marinated ahead of time in a mixture of spices and yogurt, then baked," says Carter. Even better, tandoori chicken is often made without the skin, lopping as much as 12 grams of fat off the total tally.
  • Vegetarian curry: The more vegetables, the better.
  • Dal: This pureed-lentil side dish is used as a spread and stuffing for bread. It's high in fiber and loaded with flavor.

But Steer clear of:

  • Samosas (fried beef or vegetable turnovers). They're coated with ghee, or clarified butter.
  • Anything with coconut milk: Yummy, yes. But very high in fat.

If you like PIZZA, go for:

  • Vegetable-topped pies: Pile 'em on, but go easy on the olives, which add fat grams.
  • Thin, whole-wheat crust: for extra fiber.

But Steer clear of:

  • White pizza: Lots of butter or oil, plus full-fat ricotta and mozzarella cheeses. Need we say more?
  • Stuffed-crust pies: In the simplest terms: It's like a pizza within a pizza. You're probably getting twice the calories.