Fitness

Thursday 21 August 2014

The hidden calorie-bomb in your Chinese takeaway

Eilish O'Regan Health Correspondent

Published 02/10/2012 | 05:00

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An average portion of egg fried rice contains 727 calories.

A TYPICAL Chinese takeaway meal of vegetable spring rolls, sweet and sour chicken and a portion of egg fried rice clocks up a whopping 2,184 calories -- more energy than an average adult should consume in an entire day.

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Although traditional Chinese food is healthy, it has been transformed into a salt- and fat-laden calorie-bomb to suit Irish tastebuds.

Food inspectors who scrutinised 200 takeaway favourites found an average portion of egg fried rice contains 727 calories, more than a third of our daily calorie limit.

An average adult should try to keep their daily energy intake to around 2,000 calories but too many Chinese meals -- topped up with a normal breakfast and lunch -- could soon have that weighing-scales' needle going in the wrong direction.

Sweet and sour chicken alone typically has 1,016 calories and also contains 41g of saturated fat.

Even an average portion of prawn crackers, which diners tend to munch on before digging in, amounts to a deceptive 608 calories, said Safefood, the all-Ireland watchdog which surveyed 35 Chinese takeaway restaurants across the country.

The size of the portions also tend to be overly generous with an average serving of rice weighing in at 359g, enough for two adults.

The fat content in king prawn satay dishes varies quite a bit, with levels ranging from 2.61g to 19.19g (95pc of the daily limit).

Another reason for the health-conscious to give regular Chinese takeaways the chop is that they are high in salt, with beef curry and king prawn satay also containing more than the average daily quotas.

They found there was a major difference in portion size -- with some takeaways handing out five times as many prawn crackers as others.

There tended to be a threefold difference in the portions of wontons and vegetable spring rolls dished out.

Commenting on the findings Dr Cliodhna Foley-Nolan, director of human health and nutrition at Safefood said: "There are plenty of healthy Chinese takeaway options available and people should consider sharing dishes when ordering to ensure appropriate portion size."

Research found nearly half of takeaway customers always ordered their favourite and 68pc downed the entire meal in one sitting.

Almost two-thirds of customers say they regarded the Chinese takeaway as a treat, but the advice was to see the meals as occasional food for sharing. Watch out for dishes labelled deep-fried, pan-fried, battered, breaded or crispy. Those who need to watch their salt intake should avoid beef curry and king prawn satay.

Drink water with takeaway meals -- soft drinks can add even more hidden calories and do even more damage to the waistline.

The advice to takeaway outlets is to provide calories on their menus, cut down on portion sizes and offer sauces on the side.

Alternatives to deep fried and battered dishes should be available. Healthier options with less salt and fat and fewer calories should be promoted to customers.

Irish Independent

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