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9 Surprisingly Unhealthy Takeout Foods to Avoid

 Ordering takeout is an excellent way to support local businesses during the ongoing pandemic without leaving your home, and so it’s hardly surprising that food delivery services have skyrocket worldwide during the past few months. While this habit may be good for the economy and saves you plenty of dishwashing time, it may not always benefit your health. In fact, even those takeout dishes we usually believe are healthy can be quite harmful to your system. In this article, we’ve collected 9 such seemingly healthy takeout dishes and the reasons why they’re not so nutritious, after all.

1. Chicken Alfredo

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods Chicken Alfredo
Chicken Alfredo is the pasta of choice for so many people, with many people opting for the chicken pasta thinking they've chosen the leaner, healthier pasta on the menu. The truth is, however, that this creamy pasta can contain upwards of 1500 calories and alarming amounts of fat and sodium. Both high animal fat content and increased sodium intake, in turn, have been time and time linked to cardiovascular issues, as well as diabetes and many other serious health issues. 
When ordering Italian takeout, it's better to opt for tomato-based sauces and dishes that contain vegetables, such as eggplant, spinach, zucchini, and mushrooms, and opt-out of dishes that contain creamy sauces, bacon, and sausage.

2. Nachos

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods Nachos
Nachos may very well be the ultimate snack food, but they're hardly a delight for your digestive system. It's not enough that you're eating deep-fried chips, you're also topping them with obscene amounts of cheese and other high-fat and high-sodium toppings. As we've already mentioned previously, high-sodium foods and high-fat foods can harm the heart and cause chronic health problems, but they also harm your microbiome and digestive health.
A better alternative to nachos are chips with pico de gallo, salsa, or guacamole. Or even better, get some tacos that have a much lower portion of the unhealthy ingredients instead.

3. California Rolls

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods California Rolls
Generally speaking, sushi is a relatively healthy takeout option, but there is one exception, the famous California roll. This is because California rolls are prepared with artificial crab meat, which contains highly processed ingredients, artificial dyes, added starches, and vegetable oils, as well as other artificial ingredients. After dipping this roll into some soy sauce, you'll also be ingesting a lot of sodium.
Essentially, there is nothing healthy about this roll but the optional avocado and cucumber. Instead, if you're settled on sushi, choose rolls that contain real fish and fiber-rich veggies, such as carrots and asparagus, and possibly even brown rice instead of plain white.

4. General Tso's Chicken

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods  General Tso's Chicken

This is one of those more obvious culprits on this list, and many of us probably suspected that General Tso's isn't the healthiest food in the world. That being said, we're sure you haven't expected it's that bad. This Chinese Restaurant staple isn't just covered in batter and fried in vegetable oil, it's also subsequently coated with a sugary sauce.

Just one portion of the dish can sometimes contain up to 60 grams of sugar, which is more than twice the amount of sugar a person should be having a day! Another ingredient in the glaze is soy sauce, and a lot of it, so you'll be also contributing heavily to your sodium intake when having a bowl of General Tso's Chicken. All these ingredients are extremely harmful to your heart, even if you're completely healthy.

So, what should you have at a Chinese takeout? Steamed vegetable dishes, soups, and stir-fries that don't use much soy sauce should be a safe bet. When it comes to rice, it's better to choose brown rice, or replace the rice with some homemade grain like quinoa or buckwheat altogether.

5. Chicken Ceasar with Creamy Dressing

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods Chicken Ceasar with Creamy Dressing
Not all salads are a safe choice, either. While lean meat like grilled chicken and vegetables are all an excellent and nutritious choice, the creamy dressings and additives, such as salted croutons in a Chicken Ceasar will be less beneficial for your health. In fact, such a salad can contain as much as 1010 calories and more than 70 grams of fat per serving! Other salad ingredients to avoid are bacon, processed meats, dried fruit, blue cheese, and candied nuts.
When ordering a salad, try to opt for healthy additives and maybe even consider making your own dressing at home with some lemon and olive oil. Additives that will make your salad even healthier and more nutritious are hummus, avocados, nuts, and quinoa.

6. Butter Chicken

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods Butter Chicken
There are many great Indian takeout options out there, but Buttered Chicken isn't one of them, as this rich and creamy dish is full of saturated fat that comes from the butter and full-fat yogurt used in the sauce. So, no matter how tasty it may be, it's best to skip it and choose a chickpea-based sauce like chana masala, or at least chicken tandoori, a yogurt-based chicken dish that doesn't use as much butter. The fiber in the chickpeas will be very beneficial for your digestive and heart health, so it's a great ingredient to take note of.

7. Broccoli Cheddar Soup

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods Broccoli Cheddar Soup
If something contains broccoli and is a soup, it must be healthy, right? Well, not quite, and the Broccoli Cheddar Soup is a great example of a dish that's masking to be healthy, but contains more fat than a portion of loaded fries in reality. While eating soup is actually beneficial both for your health and waistline, broccoli cheddar will not have the same benefits, as it contains half of your daily allowance of salt, over 20g of saturated fat, and 50 milligrams of cholesterol (mostly the bad kind).
A good guess when choosing soup is to opt for clear broth-based soups instead of creamy ones. Apart from veggies, you can also choose soups with legumes, such as peas and lentils, as these contain quite a lot of fiber and protein.

8. Fried Tofu and Veggies

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry
Chinese takeout is probably the trickiest when it comes to healthy options, as dishes typically included in these menus seemingly contain a lot of healthy veggies and lean protein like tofu and chicken. As it often happens, the devil lies in the details, and these details are the sauces - soy sauce and teriyaki - and the fact that many foods are deep-fried. This is exactly the problem with the fried tofu and vegetable dish, which often packs an astonishing 2200mg of salt in a portion and 900 calories. This is way beyond the daily salt allowance, and the fact that the tofu is deep-fried significantly reduces its protein count, too.

9. Banana Bread

Surprisingly Harmful Takeout Foods Banana Bread
Unfortunately, the fact that banana bread contains bananas doesn't make it healthy. In fact, one serving of a standard coffee house banana bread contains nearly your entire daily allowance of sugar, as well as 500 calories and 19 grams of fat. Needless to say, this is a lot more sugar and calories than any healthy breakfast should contain, and worst of all, there is absolutely nothing beneficial in this dessert. Instead, just eat an actual banana or a serving fruit of your choice.
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