Medically Verified by: Sharon Baisil, MD
Chinese food is one of the most popular dishes eaten worldwide, but with its unique recipes and styles. However, Chinese cuisine is more diverse than just noodles and well-known rice dishes; it includes a variety of vegetables and is often incomplete without meat in the dish.
Are you recently diagnosed with diabetes and a fan of Chinese cuisine? You may wonder, “Will eating Chinese food opens the door to even worse circumstances?” No, all you need to do is stick to your diabetes-friendly meal plan daily to control your blood glucose levels.
Can Diabetics eat Chinese food?
This question arises because modern Chinese dishes are high in calories, sodium, saturated fat, and carbs, when consumed, results in higher blood glucose levels, which raise the risk of heart disease, eye disease, kidney disease, and stroke.
On the other hand, traditional Chinese food is healthy and rich in fiber, minerals, and vitamins, as well as a good source of lean protein.
With hot and sour soup and white rice, people usually love eating stir-fried chicken and mushrooms (moo goo gai pan), fried fish, egg rolls, and noodles, which raise your blood sugar levels. Fried food, grilled food, and sugar-rich food increase the risk of diabetes and other major health issues, claims a study. Given our interests and preferences, it seems nearly impossible to avoid eating Chinese food wherever you live.
Making a healthy food choice that doesn’t affect blood sugar levels is still important. The best food choices are skinless chicken, shrimp, tofu, or fish; peas; and dark green vegetables like Chinese broccoli, choy sum, watercress, Chinese chives, yard-long beans, and amaranth, often known as Chinese spinach.
It would be ideal if diabetics could also reduce their consumption of high-sodium dipping sauces such as oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, etc., as they spike blood sugar levels and increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes.
Although there are times when we don’t feel like cooking, it’s understandable—it happens. “Takeout can be part of a healthy diabetes meal plan, and I would encourage it on occasion,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, the author of 2-Day Diabetes Diet and a dietitian in private practice in Franklin, New Jersey.
Make sure you pick the best takeout and add the extras. People with diabetes need to be careful to eat a diet low in carbohydrates and fats, high in protein, and with a set number of grams of carbs each day.
Healthy Chinese Dishes for People with Diabetes
Here is the list of the best diabetes-friendly dishes that every Chinese food lover can enjoy:
1. Steamed Chicken and Broccoli
Because chicken is abundant in protein and low in saturated fats and carbs, it aids in maintaining healthy body weight and muscle strength. In addition, broccoli is one of the nutrient-dense vegetables, is low in starch, and aids in controlling the rise in blood sugar levels.
Enjoy Chinese steamed chicken and broccoli with cooked rice or brown rice to maintain consistent blood levels. Rice is the staple of Chinese cooking and is considered the best option for serving with the main dish in every Chinese restaurant or at home. I understand that your classic Chinese meal is incomplete without rice (rich in carbohydrates), but you can lower its impact on blood glucose levels by having one cup serving (250 ML) or eating brown rice instead of white rice.
2. Steamed Fish with Ginger & Green Onion
Fish is low in calories and a good source of protein, selenium, vitamin D, vitamin B6, phosphorus, and other essential nutrients. High protein in fish helps fulfil energy needs, and Omega 3 improves heart health. The Diabetes Plate Method recommends a lean source of protein should occupy one-quarter of your plate —fish is recommended for every diabetic to eat.
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), eating steamed fish instead of fried fish is healthier because fried fish comes with a high glycemic index. Also, the oil in Chinese food remains in the digestive tract for a long time, producing more acid in the stomach.
Salmon is an outstanding choice for sashimi due to its high Omega 3 content and availability. It is one of the most fatty fish available.
3. Steamed Dumplings and Choy Sum
Modern dumplings are mostly served with high-fat creme soup and made with wheat flour and butter in inaccurate amounts, resulting in a bad impact on blood sugar levels. But we can prepare steamed dumplings (better than fried ones), as they are a great source of protein, calcium, and vitamins.
Most people love wonton soup with their dish, which is unsuitable for diabetic people. People with diabetes must add soups of non-starchy vegetables such as mushrooms, green beans, and carrots or diabetes-friendly starches such as beans, barley, and quinoa. Less than 30 grams of carbohydrates per serving of soup are best for any diabetic.
4. Chow Mein Noodles in Soup
Chow mein is just stir-fried noodles with added vegetables, chicken, pork, beef, or tofu. Are you wondering whether you can eat these noodles or not? Yes, you can eat fried noodles occasionally. Other than this, you can have cooked noodles in soup with protein- and vitamin-rich vegetables.
You must remember that your food should not exceed your daily calorie intake. Depending on your taste and preferences, you can choose between rice noodles, mung bean, and egg noodles, each comprising 19 grams, 20 grams, and 21 grams of carbs per serving.
“Whole-grain pasta noodles can be a great option because they offer more fiber, which can help blunt blood sugar spikes,” says Toby Smithson, RDN, a certified diabetes care and education specialist (CDCES) in Hilton Head, South Carolina and author of Diabetes Meal Planning and Nutrition for Dummies.
5. Mapo Tofu and Bok Choy
Bok choy, also known as Chinese broccoli, Kai Lan, or Gai Lan, is a high-fiber and high-protein vegetable. Foods with a high fiber content aid in sugar level control. Similarly, “Tofu is an extremely healthy source of protein for anyone, including men,” echos Dana Ellis Hunnes Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., senior clinical dietitian at UCLA medical center, assistant professor at UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, and author of the book Recipe For Survival.
“Lowering the risk of heart disease because of its fatty acid profile, lowering inflammation because it is a plant-based protein, and lowering the risk of cancers because it is a healthy plant-based protein that can help lower the risk of cancers,” Ellis Hunnes added.
You can add other high-fiber foods to your meal plans, such as lotus root, taro, chestnuts, sweet potatoes, and others. Taro is a root vegetable with resistant starch and fiber, making it a good carbohydrate option. It helps stabilize sugar levels, weight management, and heart health.
Chinese food is also a great source of protein, vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients that vary greatly from region to region and can help those with type 2 diabetes. You can create a variety of low-sodium, low-carb dishes at home or place a restaurant order. Just be careful to plan your meals properly and check your daily intake of calories and carbohydrates. Protein is essential to a healthy diet; a diet high in protein will give you energy all day.
FAQs | Can Diabetics eat Chinese food?
What can a diabetic eat from a Chinese takeaway?
Diabetics can enjoy Chinese takeout but should be mindful of the portion size and type of food they order. Choose lean proteins such as chicken or fish, and opt for steamed dishes over fried ones. Vegetables are a great option and can be added to stir-fries or served as a side dish. Look for dishes that include whole grains, like brown rice, and avoid sugary sauces. Lastly, monitor your blood sugar levels after eating Chinese takeout.
What Chinese food has the lowest carbs?
Chinese food can vary greatly in terms of carb content. Generally, steamed dishes like fish, chicken, and vegetables are low-carb options. Additionally, dishes made with tofu or mushrooms can also be good choices. Avoid fried foods and sauces containing sugar to keep carbs low.
What is the lowest carb meal from Chinese?
Steamed vegetables like broccoli, bok choy, and Chinese cabbage are good low-carb options from Chinese cuisine. Avoid fried dishes and those with sweet sauces or noodles. Opt for steamed fish or chicken dishes served with steamed vegetables. Add garlic, ginger, or soy sauce to the dish for extra flavor.
What kind of Chinese food can you eat on keto?
Chinese cuisine offers several dishes that can be adapted to fit a ketogenic diet. Look for dishes with a high-fat content like Peking duck, moo shu pork, and stir-fried beef with broccoli. Avoid dishes with added sugar, such as sweet and sour chicken or chow mein. Ask your server to hold the added sugar and starch when ordering.
Which Chinese soup is lowest in carbs?
Hot and Sour Soup is a popular Chinese soup that is relatively low in carbohydrates. It contains only 6 grams of carbs per serving, making it a great option for reducing their carb intake. Additionally, it’s packed with protein and vitamins, making it a nutritious choice.
Why does Chinese food make my blood sugar go up?
Chinese food can contain a significant amount of carbohydrates, which can cause an increase in blood sugar levels. Additionally, many Chinese dishes are fried or contain added sugar, which can contribute to elevated blood glucose. If you’re concerned about your blood sugar levels, it’s best to consult your doctor for advice on managing them.
Can diabetics eat Asian food?
Yes, diabetics can eat Asian food. However, it is important to be mindful of the portion size and ingredients used in the dish. It is best to choose lower-fat, salt, and sugar dishes and focus on lean proteins and vegetables. Additionally, it is important to monitor blood glucose levels closely after eating Asian food.
Can Diabetics Eat Beef and Broccoli- Yes, or no?
Yes, diabetics can eat beef and broccoli. As with any food, diabetics need to monitor their portion size and glycemic index. Beef and broccoli can be part of a healthy diet for diabetics when consumed in moderation. Pairing lean proteins such as beef with high-fiber vegetables like broccoli is recommended to help manage blood sugar levels.
- 6 Diabetes Diet-Friendly Takeout Orders | Everyday Health
- Healthy Chinese Foods to Eat When You Have Diabetes | EatingWell
- What Chinese Foods can I eat with diabetes? Safer Foods List – Beat Diabetes
- If You Have Diabetes, Here’s Exactly What To Order At 8 Types Of Restaurants | Prevention
- Is Chinese Food Bad For A Diabetic? – TheDiabetesCouncil.com
- Best Chinese Food Options for Diabetics | Authentic Chinese Food Recipes Blog
- The Best Food Choices at Chinese Restaurants for People With Diabetes | Livestrong
- Diabetic Guide To Chinese Food | Diabetic Gourmet Magazine
- Can Diabetics Eat Chinese Food? – Eat Better, Move More
Editor’s Note: In the medical world, it is critical that all health-related information be taken with a grain of salt and should not be used as an individual’s primary source of advice. As such, this article seeks to provide general information about health topics and should not be interpreted as medical advice or diagnosis. The content in this article is intended solely for educational purposes and should never replace professional medical assistance. Therefore, readers must take responsibility for their choices while using any information this article provides. Furthermore, the authors of this article disclaim any liability associated with consequences resulting from using any suggestions or opinions outlined within its contents. Readers are encouraged to contact their healthcare provider if they have any questions regarding the health issues discussed herein.