Takeaway food has a reputation for being unhealthy, but a few wise choices make all the difference
Eating on the run or getting a takeaway tonight? There’s nothing wrong with the odd curry or hamburger. But it may be a problem if you eat takeaways on a regular basis. Many menu items are loaded with fat – for example, a chicken tikka masala gives you more than half your daily fat allowance – and are also very salty. How healthy your meal is depends on what you opt for. Here’s the low-down on the healthier options and nutritional nightmares among our favourites dishes.
Many of the menu options are not only oozing with fat but also laden with sugar and salt. Sweet and sour pork contains the equivalent of three tablespoons of sugar (44g) and almost your entire daily salt limit (5.1g). Avoid anything with the words ‘battered’, ‘deep fried’ or ‘crispy’. Instead, order steamed dishes, chop suey, stir-fried vegetables, and boiled instead of fried rice.
Instead, choose tandoori dishes and tikka kebabs, chicken dupiaza or prawn madras. Vegetable balti, dahl (lentils) or aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower curry) with boiled rice make good vegetarian options. Go for chapattis made without fat, which contain 11g less fat and 130 fewer calories per portion than chapattis with fat. Go halves on naan bread – a whole one packs 20g of fat and 540 calories.
The baseline is, avoid meat toppings such as pepperoni, ham, sausage, ground beef and pork – they are loaded with fat and salt. Instead, go for vegetable toppings and goat’s cheese rather than mozzarella. It’s worth knowing that pizzas with a stuffed crust and toppings that go right to the edge can add an extra 200kcal and 15g of fat. And while the free garlic bread may seem like a good deal, remember you’ll also be getting an extra 234 calories and 7g of fat in two slices!
Do the maths – the simple advice is to opt for smaller portions (a small bag of chips sets you back only 9g of fat while a large portion contains exactly double that amount). Better still, go for a chicken salad from McDonalds’ new Salads Plus menu. A grilled chicken salad with balsamic dressing but no croutons supplies less than 300 calories and 11g of fat. And the new Quorn Premiere with a side salad (396 calories and 8.4g of fat) makes a good vegetarian choice.
The most popular sandwich on the menus of Pret a Manger and Starbucks – egg mayo – is also one of healthiest options with a commendable 394 calories and 20g of fat. Choose a filling that includes salad or grilled vegetables, or include some fruit with your meal. Starbucks now makes it easier to spot the healthier items with a prominent green ‘less than five per cent’ band on the label. The new range includes a tasty vegan falafel and houmous flatbread (405 calories and 9.1g of fat) and a chicken sandwich with orange and honey mayonnaise and baby leaf spinach (412 calories and 8.9g of fat).
In general, steer clear of big baguettes and super-size sarnies with generous mayonnaise fillings – a tuna mayo baguette packs 535 calories and 23g of fat. Fancy something sweet? A blueberry muffin has considerably more calories and fat than a chicken pesto sandwich (520 vs 399 calories and 26 vs 14g of fat). Swap it for a low-fat peach and raspberry muffin and save half the calories and fat (286 calories and 4.4g of fat)
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