28.1.2022

What is the Healthiest Takeaway?

Written by Lauren Valensky

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It’s safe to say that over the past two years, the majority of us have been living under one motto - just eat. And with the same takeaway giant seeing a 76% increase in orders, over just six months of lockdown last year, it’s clear that lockdown rules encouraged more of us to swap out the apron for the Appstore [1]

However, with restrictions soon to be lifted and new year’s resolution writing in full swing, many of us are now hungrier than ever to put down the KFC and pick up the kettlebells; but considering 43% of new year’s resolution-makers worldwide said they expect to give up on their weight loss plans by February this year, it’s easier said than done [2].

If completely cutting Deliveroos out of your diet is one step too far in the direction of fitness, there are small adjustments you can make to your existing habits, which can help improve your health massively. When temptation takes over, you can still enjoy your favourite takeouts by simply choosing healthier options. 

You may be wondering, between chowing down on a Chinese, tucking into a Thai or munching on a Mexican, what could possibly be the healthiest type of takeaway in the UK?  Luckily, we have the answers. 

Read our list of top seven takeouts, to unbox a range of alternative, good options to healthily help your carry-out cravings.

Fish and Chips:

First off, we have the good old Friday favourite, fish and chips. If you’re seeking a bite that won't break the calorie bank, then this takeaway's a catch, as it has the ability to contain a moderate amount of energy while being relatively low in saturated fat.

Filled with omega-3 and fatty acids, many different types of fish are great sources of minerals like iron, zinc, and potassium, while potatoes are an excellent source of fibre, which can assist with weight loss by keeping you fuller for longer.

In addition, having just two main ingredients is always a good sign especially when it comes to takeaway food, as this means that the quality of produce is more likely to be kept high - the better the quality, the better for your health.

For batter:

  • To accompany your meal, mushy peas are a cleaner option than your typical battered sausage or bread roll.
  • Choose fatter chips: there’s a slimmer chance of clogging up your arteries since fries and thinner chips have a larger surface area compared to their volume, which allows for increased absorption of harmful fats.
  • Always go for grilled fish over fried if the eatery offers the option.

For worse:

  • Remove some, if not all the batter off your fish. 
  • Avoid drowning your chips in salt, as it can be bad for blood pressure.
  • Don’t let the condiments ketchup to you: avoid adding sauces such as tomato and tartare as these can contain a scary amount of sugar.

Indian:

If you’re looking for something to add a little spice to your evening, Indian food is always a good go-to.

While the cuisine fuses an abundance of delicious flavours and spices, it’s also packed with some surprising health benefits.

Curries are packed with spices like turmeric and cumin, both of which have anti-inflammatory properties, while lentils, (another staple of Indian cooking) provide plant-based protein and fibre - perfect for those who are vegan or vegetarian.

Chut-yay:

  • Opting for chicken-based dishes like Jalfrezi is always a good way to reduce your calorie intake, as chicken contains significantly less fat than red meat. 
  • Brown rice over white will up the ante on your takeaway's nutritional value.
  • If you fancy a beverage with your biryani, order drinks with natural ingredients, like mango lassi, instead of sugary refreshments.

Chut-nay:

  • Avoid adding high-fat extras such as ghee (clarified butter), paneer (cottage cheese), 
  • Don’t confine yourself to korma: creamy sauces such as pasanda, or do Pyaza, contain high levels of fat and sugar.
  • Say no to naan bread to cut out the complex carbs. Have boiled or grilled vegetables on the side instead.

Chinese:

Since we’re on a (spring) roll, let’s introduce our third takeaway option: Chinese.

Since a number of dishes are high in sugar, fat and salt, this cuisine might not seem like the healthiest takeaway option at first. However, since Chinese cookery is largely rooted in rice, fresh vegetables and seafood, you can make your takeout meals significantly healthier.

Sweet:

  • Opt for steamed rice over fried rice.
  • Side with stir-fried: stir fry dishes are typically lower in fat than those submerged in oil.
  • Getting grilled isn’t such a bad thing here: instead of battered or fried seafood, choose items that have been griddled or steamed - such as squid, prawns and fish balls.
  • Soups are generally light and low calorie, meaning they make for a healthy starter or main course option.
  • Choose chicken, prawn, or tofu as your protein of choice.

Sour:

  • Avoid adding extras like soy sauce, duck sauce and sweet chilli sauce,  which are high in sugar and salt.
  • Forgo fattier cuts of meat such as beef and pork.
  • Sacrifice the sweetness: while sweet and sour dishes might be your plate of choice, the amount of sugar in these meals can put a huge burden on your body.

Pizza:

One of the most popular takeaway choices in the UK, pizza is often seen as a greasy and unhealthy option. However, with a few quick menu modifications, you can have a much healthier alternative to your favourite Friday-night dish,  in no time.

Healthy toppings can transform your pizza into a great source of nutrients, that leave you feeling wood-fired up and ready to go.

Italian-yes: 

  • Think about a thinner crust: less dough, means less simple carbs.
  • Make sure to top your pizza with a healthy amount of vegetables. 
  • If you must have meat on your pizza, lean towards less fatty options, such as chicken. 

Italiano:

  • Avoid processed toppings such as pepperoni and ham, as these can be high in saturated fats and MSG.
  • Ditch the deep pan: increasing the depth of the dish, also increases the number of calories and saturated fats in your pizza.
  • Sack off side dishes: extras alongside your pizza, such as dough balls and garlic bread, are simple carbohydrates and high in fat.

Thai:

Thai cuisine often tops the list of healthy takeaways.

Unlike Chinese food, which is often high in sugar and salt, Thai cooking uses fresh herbs and spices to add flavour, while also maintaining a focus on fresh vegetables and good quality meat - meaning dishes are generally lower in calories and fat.

A majority of Thai curries also use coconut milk for their base instead of cream, which significantly shrinks fat levels and makes this takeout a viable option for veggies. 

Go Thai(m):

  • Stick with stir-fries or soups over curries, which can be high in fat and salt. 
  • Gravitate towards grilled chicken or seafood instead of battered fish and tempura prawns.

Thai(m) to get rid:

  • Avoid adding sweet and processed sauces such as tamarind paste and fish sauce.

Kebabs:

We can bet our bottom donner, that you weren’t expecting kebabs to make it onto this list.

However, since they come in an extensive range of different varieties, it’s easy to make a healthy selection, e.g. you could give meat a miss and have a veg skewer.

What’s more, many kebab shops are tagging on to this trend and making healthier choices readily available in their eateries.

Yessiree:

  • Asking for your pitta bread to be grilled instead of fried can save you around 190 calories!
  • Go for grilled chicken or vegetables over more calorie-laden lamb and beef options. 
  • The chips are down: choosing boiled rice over fried sides can add fibre, and remove fat from your meal.

Notisserie:

  • Don’t go for donner: choosing fresh meat skewers that contain fewer preservatives will always be better for your body.
  • Dressing down: avoid pouring oily extras on top of your kebab. choose yoghurt-based low-fat sauces instead.

Burritos:

Let’s wrap this list up with our final takeaway of choice - burritos. This protein-packed Mexican dish is a great way to get your nutrients in and makes for a deliciously balanced dinner.

A tasty combination of shredded meat, rice, beans, guacamole, salsas and peppers, burritos offer a range of health benefits.

Not only are they high in protein and fibre, but they’re also low in saturated fat - making them the perfect option if you’re looking for a healthy takeaway meal. 

Jalapeñ-yes:

  • Choose brown or wholegrain rice instead of white, to increase your fibre intake.
  • Go for leaner meats like chicken, rather than beef, to reduce the amount of fat in your food.

Jalapeno:

  • Try and keep a straight face when it comes to the cheese: leaving out the dairy minimises the amount of saturated fat and salt in your meal.

So now that we’ve shown you there’s more to takeaways than just growing waistlines and greasy fingers, don’t be so quick to discount fast food - just hamper your hunger with healthier options.

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