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6 Healthy Options at Panda Express, According to a Dietitian

Written By: Rebeka Kuschmider

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about culture, health, and politics since 2010. Her bylined work has been seen at WebMD, MedicineNet, Health, Salon, and the Huffington Post.

Expert Reviewed By: Katherine Basbaum, RD

Katherine Basbaum, MS RD is a Food Data Curator at MyFitnessPal. She received her Masters in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University and completed her Dietetic Internship at UVA Health, where she also works as a nutrition counselor for cardiology patients.

6 Healthy Options at Panda Express, According to a Dietitian

If you’re committed to a healthy eating plan, you might think that means saying goodbye to fast food. But are fast foods and healthy foods mutually exclusive?

While the fare available at fast food restaurants is quick, affordable, and tasty, it tends to contain more salt, sugar, and fat than meals made at home. But the truth is, there are days when you just want to grab a meal on the go. When that happens, don’t get stressed. There are plenty of healthy options when ordering fast food.

If you are looking for a quick meal of Chinese food, Panda Express is an easy option. The popular chain has locations all over the country where you can get a delicious meal without waiting. It also has some well-balanced, healthy meal choices. Our registered dietitian reviewed the Panda Express nutrition info to pick out the healthiest options for you.

6 Healthy Options at Panda Express According to a Dietitian

Healthy Options at Panda Express | MyFitnessPal

When you’re considering the Panda Express nutrition values, you can look at the overall calorie count as well as the protein, carbohydrate, and fat values. But here are the three most important things to keep in mind:

  • Check to see if the entrees contain vegetables. Veggies add flavor and variety without adding fat or processed carbs.
  • Check to see how many milligrams of sodium are in the meal. A lot of the items available at food chains contain high amounts of salt. That gives the entree options a lot of flavor, but high sodium content can contribute to health issues like high blood pressure.
  • Check for added sugar. For example, the Panda Express sweet and sour sauce has 20 grams of sugar in a 1.8-ounce serving. If you’re watching your sugar intake, pay attention to those values.

Want actual meal suggestions? We’ve included values from the Panda Express nutrition chart for our favorite dishes below.

1. String Bean Chicken Breast With Steamed Brown Rice

String Bean Chicken Breast (5.6 oz)

  • Calories: 210
  • Sodium: 560 mg
  • Sugars: 5 g
  • Protein: 12 g
  • Fat: 12 g
  • Carbs: 13 g

Steamed Brown Rice (10.4 oz)

  • Calories: 420
  • Sodium: 15 mg
  • Sugars: 1 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Carbs: 86 g

The Panda Express string bean chicken breast packs 12 grams of protein, plenty of fiber from the brown rice, and is low in fat. This is a great choice for lunch since it’s likely to give you a nice energy boost and leave you feeling full for a long time.

The brown rice adds more protein and important dietary fiber to the meal. Studies show that eating a fiber-rich diet can help with achieving weight loss goals.

2. Grilled Teriyaki Chicken With Steamed White Rice

Grilled Teriyaki Chicken (6 oz)

  • Calories: 275
  • Sodium: 470 mg
  • Sugars: 9 g
  • Protein: 33 g
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Carbs: 14 g

Steamed White Rice (8.1 oz)

  • Calories: 380
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 7 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbs: 87 g

Grilled teriyaki chicken is a classic entree that tastes delicious. Grilled chicken is a high-protein meal with low fat content. The 6-ounce portion size is big enough to be satisfying as a lunch or dinner, especially with the rice on the side. The teriyaki chicken at Panda Express gets some of its signature flavor from added sugar. According to the nutrition info posted on their website, the dish has 9 grams of the sweet stuff, so be aware of that if you’re watching your sugar intake.

White rice is a go-to side for Chinese food Panda Express lovers. It’s low in fat and contains protein, which makes a nice addition to your meal. White rice has 87 grams of carbs, though, so consider eating half the rice and saving the rest for another meal. As a bonus, research shows that refrigerating rice converts it to a resistant starch — a prebiotic that can help regulate blood sugar levels. You get the benefits of refrigerating rice even if you reheat it before eating.

3. The Wok-Smart Black Pepper Angus Steak

Black Pepper Angus Steak (5.1 oz)

  • Calories: 210
  • Sodium: 560 mg
  • Sugars: 7 g
  • Protein: 19 g
  • Fat: 10 g
  • Carbs: 13 g

The black pepper Angus steak is a savory mix of sliced steak and fresh vegetables like red peppers, mushrooms, and broccoli. It delivers a nice pop of spice along with plenty of lean protein. With only 13 grams of carbohydrates, it’s perfect for anyone who’s keeping an eye on macros.

4. Broccoli Beef With Steamed Brown Rice

Broccoli Beef (5.4 oz)

  • Calories: 150
  • Sodium: 520 mg
  • Sugars: 7 g
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Fat: 7 g
  • Carbs: 13 g

Steamed Brown Rice (10.4 oz)

  • Calories: 420
  • Protein: 9 g
  • Fat: 4 g
  • Carbs: 86 g

Broccoli beef is practically synonymous with Chinese food. It’s a tasty classic that’s also a solid choice for a healthy meal. The beef provides plenty of lean protein on its own, and the brown rice boosts that macro even more. Broccoli is an undisputed nutritional champ, providing a wallop of vitamin C, along with vitamin A, iron, and dietary fiber.

5. Mushroom Chicken With Super Greens

Mushroom Chicken (5.7 oz)

  • Calories: 220
  • Sodium: 840 mg
  • Sugars: 5 g
  • Protein: 13 g
  • Fat: 14 g
  • Carbs: 10 g

Super Greens (7 oz)

  • Calories: 90
  • Sodium: 260 mg
  • Sugars: 4 g
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Fat: 3 g
  • Carbs: 10 g

The mushroom chicken entree at Panda Express is already loaded with zucchini and fiber-rich mushrooms. Adding a side of super greens, which includes baby broccoli, cabbage, and kale, turns this meal into a veggie-happy feast! The fat content is about as low as you can get with any combination of Panda Express menu items.

6. Fortune Cookies for Dessert

Fortune Cookie (0.18 oz)

  • Calories: 20
  • Sodium: 0 mg
  • Sugars: 2 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • Carbs: 5 g

What’s a trip to Panda Express without a fortune cookie to finish up? Fortune cookies are fun, and they’re also a low-calorie, fat-free treat to satisfy your sweet tooth.

Choose the Healthiest Menu Items at Panda Express and Enjoy

Now you know several healthy options at Panda Express! Next time you step up to the counter, pick from among the tasty entrees that offer a good balance of Panda Express macros and include plenty of vegetables. The MyFitnessPal app allows you to look up menu items from Panda Express and other restaurants so you can easily log your choices and track their nutrition values. This lets you see your calorie counts, macros, and other nutritional information about the food you’ve eaten. Knowing the details of each meal helps you stay within your goals for the day!

About the Authors

Meet the people behind the post

Written By: Rebeka Kuschmider

Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about culture, health, and politics since 2010. Her bylined work has been seen at WebMD, MedicineNet, Health, Salon, and the Huffington Post.

Expert Reviewed By: Katherine Basbaum, RD

Katherine Basbaum, MS RD is a Food Data Curator at MyFitnessPal. She received her Masters in Nutrition Communication from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science & Policy at Tufts University and completed her Dietetic Internship at UVA Health, where she also works as a nutrition counselor for cardiology patients.

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