Did You Know?
General Tso's chicken, a popular Hunanese chicken dish, first became popular in the United States and was introduced in China later!

One of the eight cuisines of China, Hunan cuisine is known for its hot and spicy food. Chilies are used liberally, and it is the spiciest of all Chinese cuisines. Raw hotness is the specialty of this region. General Tso's chicken, a hot and sour Hunanese dish, is very popular. Boneless, skinless chicken is cut into medium chunks and deep-fried in oil. They are then are sautéed with vegetables and coated with a sweet and sour sauce. The sauce is made of soy sauce, chili-garlic sauce, tomato paste, chicken broth, onion, cornflour, sugar, and salt. The dish is usually garnished with crisp pepper or spring onions. It is a savory and spicy mouth-watering dish, which is usually served hot with rice.

Nutritional Content in Hunan Chicken

Here is a table containing nutritional data of restaurant-style Hunan chicken. The serving size is 1 cup (100 g).

Nutrition Data
Water45.15 g
Energy295 kcal
Protein12.90 g
Total lipid (fat)16.36 g
Ash1.60 g
Carbohydrate23.99 g
Fiber, total dietary0.9 g
Sugars, total11.60 g
Sucrose10.46 g
Glucose0.62 g
Fructose0.51 g
Starch11.83 g
Calcium12 mg
Iron1.16 mg
Magnesium18 mg
Phosphorus127 mg
Potassium201 mg
Sodium435 mg
Zinc1.30 mg
Copper0.046 mg
Manganese0.075 mg
Selenium14.4 µg
Vitamin C1.6 mg
Thiamin0.03 mg
Riboflavin0.118 mg
Niacin2.853 mg
Vitamin B-60.202 mg
Folic acid5 µg
Vitamin B-120.22 µg
Vitamin A11 µg
Vitamin E1.21 mg
Vitamin D6 IU
Vitamin K38.2 µg
Fatty acids, total saturated2.760 g
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated3.879 g
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated7.501 g
Fatty acids, total trans0.09 g

*The nutrient information has been sourced from the USDA.

Hunan chicken contains vitamins and minerals that are essential to our body. Vitamin B3 or niacin can help to reduce hardening of arteries. It also has DHA, which is important in the proper functioning of our brain. Chicken has many benefits and provides many nutrients to our body. The major culprit in this dish is the high sodium content. Excess sodium can be very harmful to our body. It can lead to water retention, weight gain, and increase in blood pressure. The sauces are filled with too much salt. So, does that mean that you cannot enjoy your favorite Chinese dish? Absolutely not! Just a few changes and this dish can be healthier. Here is a list of simple changes you can incorporate in this dish.

Healthy Options

When eating at a restaurant:
  1. Always ask for sauces on the side. You can use them as dips, thereby, reducing the sauces consumed.
  2. Request the waiters for healthier options available, like boiled or baked chicken.
  3. Make sure you order a salad; it will help you to control portions.

When making it at home:
  1. Adding lots of vegetables to this dish will make it healthier. It will also help you to control your portions as veggies are more filling.
  2. Using less oil is an option to reduce fats, or else the best thing is to bake the chicken and then sauté it with vegetables.
  3. Substituting white rice with brown rice will help you to cut down on the carbohydrates.
  4. Avoid using too much sauce; instead add herbs to increase the flavor and cut down on salt.

A very yummy dish, it should be enjoyed occasionally, since it has a high sodium content. Remember, moderation is the key.