Panda Express is a popular American Chinese fast food restaurant chain that offers a variety of classic Chinese-American dishes like orange chicken, chow mein, fried rice, egg rolls, and more. One of their most popular side dish options is chow mein, a stir-fried noodle dish that can be ordered in different sizes. For those watching their calorie intake or macronutrients, it’s important to know the nutrition facts, including the number of calories, in Panda Express menu items like a large side of chow mein.
In this article, we will provide a detailed breakdown of the calories and other nutrition information in a large side order of chow mein from Panda Express. We’ll look at the total calories as well as the amounts of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and other nutrients. Keep reading to learn the answer to how many calories are in Panda Express’ large chow mein.
Nutrition Facts for Panda Express Chow Mein
According to the Panda Express website nutrition information, here are the nutrition facts for a large side of chow mein from Panda Express:
Panda Express Large Chow Mein Nutrition Facts
Serving Size: 1 order (284g)
Calories from Fat: 180
Total Fat: 20g
Saturated Fat: 3.5g
Trans Fat: 0g
Total Carbohydrates: 63g
Dietary Fiber: 3g
As you can see, a full large side order of chow mein from Panda Express contains approximately 480 calories.
Of those 480 calories, 180 come from fat. A large chow mein also contains significant amounts of sodium and carbohydrates. Let’s break these nutrition facts down in more detail.
Total Calories in Large Chow Mein
The total number of calories in a large order of Panda Express chow mein is 480. This represents a significant portion of an average adult’s recommended daily calorie intake.
The recommended daily calorie intake for an average adult is 2,000 calories. This means a large Panda Express chow mein provides almost one quarter of the daily recommended calories.
480 calories is on the higher side for a single side dish serving. For comparison, here are the calories in some other Panda Express side dishes:
– Small chow mein: 230 calories
– Large steamed rice: 230 calories
– Chicken egg roll (1 piece): 140 calories
– Vegetable spring roll (1 piece): 80 calories
As you can see, the large chow mein has more than double the calories of the steamed rice or small chow mein. It’s a high calorie side dish choice.
Calories from Fat
Out of the total 480 calories in a large order of chow mein, 180 come from fat. This means about 38% of the calories in the chow mein come from fat.
The chow mein contains a total of 20g of fat. The recommended daily limit for fat intake is between 25-35% of total calories. So at 38% of calories from fat, the chow mein is slightly above the recommended guidelines.
However, not all fats are created equal. Let’s look at how much of the fat content comes from unhealthy saturated and trans fats vs. healthier unsaturated fats:
– Saturated fat: 3.5g
– Trans fat: 0g
This shows the majority of fats in the chow mein are unsaturated fats. The chow mein does contain some saturated fat, providing about 18% of the recommended daily value. But it contains no artificial trans fats, which is good.
So in moderation, the fat content of a Panda Express chow mein side is not too concerning. As part of an overall balanced diet, the mix of fats is acceptable. Of course, minimizing saturated fats from other foods would help balance that out.
Panda Express large chow mein contains 63g of total carbohydrates. This represents about 21% of the daily recommended carbohydrate intake.
Out of the total carbohydrates, 3g is dietary fiber (11% daily value) and 3g is sugars.
The chow mein provides a significant amount of energy in the form of carbohydrate calories – about 252 calories, which is over half its total calories.
The chow mein is higher in starchy carbohydrates from the noodles than fiber-rich carbs from vegetables. The fiber content is about 10% of the total carbs, lower than recommended.
Overall the carbohydrate content is fairly typical for a noodle-based dish. Monitoring other carb sources in your diet will be important for balancing it out.
There are 12g of protein in a full order of Panda Express chow mein. This represents 24% of the recommended daily protein intake.
Protein is necessary for building and repairing muscles and tissues. It also helps keep you feeling fuller for longer after a meal.
While 12g of protein is a decent amount, it’s on the lower side for a main dish. Higher protein options from Panda Express include:
– Grilled teriyaki chicken (43g protein for 4 pieces)
– Firecracker chicken breast (42g protein for 3 pieces)
– Eggplant tofu (21g protein per entree)
So if you are looking to get more protein from your Panda Express meal, chow mein on its own will not provide most of your needs. Pairing it with a high protein main dish is best.
The large chow mein contains 1280mg of sodium. This is over half (54%) of the recommended daily sodium intake.
Health authorities recommend limiting sodium to 2300mg per day, ideally closer to 1500mg if you have high blood pressure or heart problems.
A large chow mein provides over 100% of the 1500mg recommendation. The high sodium content comes from soy sauce as well as MSG flavor enhancers.
High sodium intake can contribute to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and other problems. Most Americans exceed the recommended sodium limits, so be mindful of your total sodium consumption when eating the chow mein.
Other lower sodium Panda Express sides include:
– Small chow mein (630mg)
– Steamed rice (290mg)
– Super greens side (370mg)
Overall, the 1280mg of sodium in the chow mein is quite high for a single side dish. Be sure to watch your sodium intake from other foods and drinks if enjoying this side frequently.
Beyond the macronutrients of fat, carbs, and protein, let’s look at some of the vitamin and mineral content:
– Calcium: 4% Daily Value
– Iron: 15% DV
– Vitamin C: 2% DV
– Vitamin A: 2% DV
The chow mein provides minimal amounts of micronutrients. You would get small amounts of iron and calcium, but very little of vitamins A and C.
For filling in the gaps on vitamins and minerals, consider pairing it with vitamin-rich sides like:
– Chicken egg roll (vitamin A)
– Super greens (vitamins A, C, iron)
– Vegetable spring roll (vitamin C)
Overall the chow mein is not a significant source of important vitamins or minerals. Focus on other menu items or parts of your meals to provide greater micronutrient value.
Cooking Method and Ingredients
When assessing the nutritional value of any food, it’s important to consider how it’s cooked and prepared.
Panda Express chow mein is cooked via stir-frying. It’s prepared on a flat grill at high heat with continuous tossing and stirring.
Stir frying is a healthier cooking method than deep frying, as no oil is used for submerging or cooking. The chow mein is simply tossed with a small amount of oil.
Ingredients in the chow mein include:
– Egg noodles
– Celery, onion, carrots
– Bean sprouts
– Soy sauce
– Seasonings (garlic, ginger, five spice powder)
The combination of protein-rich egg noodles, crunchy vegetables, and soy sauce provides a decent nutritional profile. There are no unhealthy ingredients like processed meats or hydrogenated oils.
For an optimally healthy version, you could request vegetables to be stir fried with minimal oil and low sodium soy sauce on the side. But overall, the standard chow mein is not too bad as an occasional side dish.
Nutrition Tips for Ordering
Here are some tips for balancing nutrition when ordering a Panda Express chow mein:
– Avoid high sodium sauces like Kung Pao or Beijing Beef to minimize total sodium intake.
– Order a non-fried, grilled protein like chicken or shrimp as your main dish.
– Pair with steamed or sautéed vegetable sides for more fiber and nutrients.
– Request low sodium soy sauce or sauce on the side to control how much you use.
– Opt for brown rice instead of white rice for more fiber and nutrients.
– Share the large chow mein with a friend or take half home to reduce portion size.
– Drink water instead of soda to avoid empty sugar and calories.
– Complete your meal with fruit or yogurt for added vitamins.
Being mindful of total meal composition is important when ordering a high calorie, high sodium side dish like chow mein. Balance it out with healthier choices for the rest of your meal.
So how many calories are in Panda Express’ large side of chow mein? A full order contains approximately 480 calories, with 180 calories coming from mostly unsaturated fat and 252 calories from refined carbohydrates. It also includes a sizable amount of sodium.
While the chow mein makes a tasty side for an occasional meal, it’s best enjoyed in moderation as part of an overall healthy diet. Be sure to balance out the fat, carbs, and sodium with your other meal choices when dining at Panda Express. Limiting portion size of the chow mein can also help keep calories under control.
– A full large side order of Panda Express chow mein contains 480 calories.
– 180 calories come from its 20g of fat content, mostly unsaturated fats.
– It provides 252 calories from 63g of carbohydrates.
– The chow mein contains 12g of protein.
– It’s very high in sodium at 1280mg.
– Pair the chow mein with lower sodium, higher protein, and nutrient-dense menu options for a balanced meal.
So be mindful of your total meal when ordering this delicious but higher calorie side dish. With smart balancing choices, you can still enjoy Panda Express chow mein as an occasional treat within a healthy lifestyle.