What Chinese Foods can I eat with diabetes? Safer Foods List

Chinese foods are considered to be the worst food to consume in diabetes. They can increase your blood sugar levels dramatically as they are very high in calories, sodium, fat, and carbohydrates.

Basic Chinese cuisine is considered safe to eat, but when it comes to fries veggies, rice, eggs, etc. it becomes harmful. White rice is also one of the worst food choices for people with diabetes.

Note – sodium present in Chinese food can increase hypertension and lead to high blood pressure.

Most of the Chinese food items are fried, and mostly many other ingredients are added in it, which can cause a serious health effect on your health. Try to avoid Chinese food as much as possible, as they can cause a drastic increment in your blood sugar level.

Healthy Chinese food alternatives  

  • Spring rolls
  • Chicken and broccoli
  • Egg foo young (omelet and chopped vegetables)

Spring rolls

These are some of the healthy Chinese foods that can be taken in moderation, if you have diabetes.

If you are a Chinese food lover, then there are many homemade Chinese fried rice recipes on the internet, which are diabetes-friendly. The taste may differ, but remember that health is more important than anything else.

Check out these books for such recipes:

Health issues due to the Chinese Food 



Chinese food contains more salt. Sodium present in it causes high blood pressure, which eventually leads to a variety of other adverse health effects on the heart. People suffering from heart diseases should avoid eating Chinese food.

People with diabetes are also highly recommended avoiding eating Chinese food as there is a high risk of getting cardiovascular disease and even stroke.



The feeling of bloating is due to the extra oil present in Chinese food. It increases the risk of heart diseases and stroke. The oil present in it causes your body to feel discomfort and tend to delay stomach emptying.

It will make you feel bloated and make you feel lingering inside by delaying your stomach’s emptying.

Weight gain

Weight gain

Noodles and rice in Chinese food have more carbohydrates. The carbohydrates break down into the energy, which makes you feel hungry in no time. Due to this, you feel about eating more, which eventually increases your weight.


The oil in Chinese food stays for a long time by producing more acid in the stomach. The Chinese food churns more acid in the stomach and irritates the inner lining of the stomach.



The compound named monosodium glutamate present in Chinese food is responsible for the headaches. It increases muscle tenderness and hence causes headaches.

These are some of the harmful health effects of Chinese food on the human body. There are many of them, but these are the major problems faced by the maximum people who regularly eat Chinese food.

Health effects of Monosodium Glutamate

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is commonly used in every Chinese food used as a flavor enhancer. They are used in many canned soups, vegetables, and meats. FDA – Food and Drug Administrator has considered MSG safe, but it’s still controversial to use.

FDA has made it compulsory to add NSG on the label if it’s used, so make sure you always read the labels before buying any food item. The reactions of the MSG is known as SG complex which includes –

  • Facial pressure/ tightness
  • Headache
  • Numbness
  • Tingling or burning in the face, neck, or another body part.
  • Sweating
  • Chest pain
  • Flushing
  • Weakness
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Nausea

Researchers have found that there is no way to get rid of these reactions, so the only way is to avoid Chinese food and the food items which contain MSG. Only a small number of people who experience these effects for the short term rest of the people feel it more time.

The effects of the MSG reactions are mild and cause these severe harmful effects on the body. Many people have experienced mild chest pain radiating down to arms and back after consuming Chinese food and have experienced heart palpitations.

Heart palpitations mean the heart rate increases. It occurs for only a short period or may last for only a few seconds. Many people ignore this but avoid eating Chinese food as these have many harmful effects in the longer term.

Make sure that you read out the labels carefully and check whether it contains MSG or not. Rather than Chinese food, many food items contain MSG, for example, canned food items.

Fact – MSG comes with varieties of names.

Some familiar names of MSG –

  • Potassium glutamate
  • Broth
  • Autolyzed yeast extract
  • Hydrolyzed vegetable protein
  • Sodium caseinate
  • Natural flavorings

These are the most common names for the MSG given in the canned and packaged food items. Make sure that you buy food freshly.

It is highly recommended for any diabetic person to prefer fresh food items and avoid Chinese food as much as possible. There is no other way to eat any fancy Chinese food as it contains extra oil, fried vegetables, and other high carbohydrate food materials.

If you still want it to eat Chinese food, then you can try out some homemade recipes of Chinese food that are available on the internet. There may be a taste difference, but the new healthy option will be available for you to eat.

Diabetic-friendly fried rice recipe

Note – this recipe is diabetic friendly, but it is highly suggested to eat it as a treat and not regularly. Occasional eating of this rice is highly recommended.

Nutrition per serving

  • Energy – 147 calories
  • Protein – 3.3g
  • Carbohydrate – 27g
  • Sodium – 48.2mg
  • Cholesterol – 0g
  • Fat – 2.9g
  • Fiber – 2.9g

Ingredients – 

  • Cooked brown rice – 2 cups
  • Oil – 1 ½ tbsp.
  • Finely chopped green chilies – 1 ½
  • Thinly sliced capsicum – ¼ cup
  • Spring onion slices – ¼ cup
  • Parboiled French beans – ¾ cup
  • Parboiled carrots – ¾ cup
  • Bean sprouts – ½ cup
  • Soy sauce – ½ tbsp.
  • Finely chopped celery – 1 tbsp
  • ½ tbsp of finely chopped spring onion greensSalt

Directions – 

  1. Take a non-stick pan and heat the oil. Add some green chilies, capsicum, and spring onion whites.
  2. Stir them occasionally and sauté it in the high flame for 2 minutes.
  3. Then add carrots, French beans, bean sprouts, and celery.
  4. Sauté them in high flame and stir it occasionally. Fry for 1 – 2 minutes.
  5. Add the brown rice in it and cook.
  6. Add soy sauce, spring onions greens.
  7. Add salt and cook it on the medium flame for 1-2 minutes.

After this, serve hot on the plate and enjoy the dish. The taste may have a big difference, but this is the healthiest Chinese fried rice for every diabetic person.

Note – do not use white rice instead of brown rice.

Know that white rice is the worst food item for every diabetic and rapidly increases the patient’s blood sugar level. This is the ultimate option for every diabetic Chinese food lover instead of eating Chinese food available in the market.

If you still wish to have any Chinese dish in restaurants, then check for the dish which contains lean proteins. Steamed chicken and broccoli are the best options for every diabetic patient as there is a high source of protein and fiber in this dish.

Check that the saturated fat levels are low and prefer low sodium so that there will be no increase in the blood pressure. By keeping these things in mind, you will reduce the high risk of further heart diseases, and your blood cholesterol level will be in control.

Chinese food mainly contains magnesium, which tends the body to use insulin more efficiently. Rather than that, Chinese food is incomplete without rice. White rice spikes the blood sugar level dramatically, so it’s a No.

Brown rice is preferable, but make sure that you eat steamed vegetables instead of fried veggies. Fried vegetables will naturally hold more oil, and hence it promotes cardiovascular disease.

If you are a Chinese lover, you can order steamed dumplings as a starter and order the other food as per your recommended food items. Don’t forget to add salads to your meals.

Add cucumber, cabbage leaves, spinach in your salads to increase the nutrition in your diet. The nutrition of the vegetables is necessary for your body to control the blood sugar level, improve insulin sensitivity, reduce blood pressure, reduce the risk of heart disease, and many more.

Note – cabbage, tomatoes, spinach, kale are the best food items for diabetes and highly recommended to improve the blood sugar levels.

Know that basic Chinese food is healthy, including vegetables, fish, and other healthy food items. The additives like MSG and fried veggies make it unhealthy to eat for a diabetic person.

Make sure you avoid egg rolls, fried chicken, white rice, fried rice, and sugar-laden sauces. These food items are a must to avoid. Order the food dishes which have more vegetables in it.

Hot sour soup, shrimp with vegetables, stir-fried chicken, and wonton soup are generally considered safe to eat for a person with diabetes. But it’s always better to stand on the safe side so avoid Chinese food as much as possible.

You eat these food items as a treat but in a moderate amount or rarely. Maintaining good health is the main thing, and reducing medications is the motto.

By adding more vegetables, salads in your diet, it is possible that you can reduce most of your unnecessary medications, which are given due to the lack of certain nutrients.

The meal should be rich in fiber, minerals, vitamins, amino acids, and low in fat, carbohydrates, cholesterol, and calories to avoid harmful effects on the body. Make sure you follow all the tips given above.

If you still want to eat Chinese food, then try out the recipe given above. It is rich in many vitamins, fibers, and other nutrients that benefit you in many ways. Stop eating any food which is available in cans.

The food which is packed or canned usually spikes your insulin level and causes some complications, so it’s better to avoid packaged food and eat fresh food. Try to buy fresh food always.

Start your day with a healthy breakfast with the nutritious breakfast, and add certainly recommended bread and veggies. If not bread, try out some other nutritious options and have a low glycemic index.

Avoid banana in breakfast as it can also spike your insulin level. You can eat oranges, berries, cherries, etc. in the breakfast for maintaining good health. The same goes for lunch.

Add cabbage thrice a week in your meal to get the proper nutrition as per the body’s requirements.

Take special care while ordering food and make a wise choice. There are many types of food, like Italian, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Indian, etc. Every food item in these types is healthy enough, but as a diabetic person, you must take extra care before ordering and eating this food.

Make sure you check your blood sugar level regularly and eat healthy food. Do not take any chance when it comes to your health, and always avoid the food items that have a high glycemic index and are not safe to your body. Ask your dietitian about the food items that you need to avoid.


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Dr Sharon Baisil MD

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