Panda Express is a fast casual or fast food restaurant that specializes in serving Chinese-American food. Many people either believe that Panda Express is much healthier than other fast foods or a lot more worse, or unhealthier.
To understand the nutrition of Panda Express, we have to examine what its food’s main ingredients are. Depending on what meal you get, you’re looking at getting different meats such as chicken, beef, or shrimp. So if we’re comparing those meals with other restaurants, we could say the types of meat are pretty similar.
Because Panda Express serves Chinese-inspired food, it is hard to compare it to other fast food restaurants head-to-head. It would be like comparing apples and oranges. So the best we can do is compare their meals or entrees to ones from other fast food restaurants based on the types of meat.
Panda Express Nutrition
Since we decided that it would be hard to compare meals from Panda Express to those of other fast food restaurants, we will compare them based on type of meat they are created with.
Let’s start off by comparing Orange Chicken and Mandarin Chicken from Panda Express to the Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich from McDonald’s.
|Orange Chicken||Mandarin Chicken||Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich|
|Calories from Fat||180||150||80|
Source: PandaExpress.com and McDonalds.com
As you can see in the first comparison above, the Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich from McDonald’s easily wins the nutrition comparison against the Orange Chicken. It has fewer calories, fat, cholesterol, and sugars, while having a lot more protein.
When compared with the Mandarin Chicken, the comparison is much closer. The Mandarin Chicken has the advantage of having fewer calories, carbohydrates, and sodium while having more protein.
It’s worth noting that many Chinese foods are sweet in nature, so their sugar content will be much higher, as shown with Orange Chicken. However, some foods, such as the Mandarin Chicken, have reasonable sugar content.
Next, we’ll look at how Panda Express beef entrees compare to other beef-based fast foods from other restaurants.
In this comparison, we’ll look at the Beijing Beef and Shanghai Angus Steak meals from Panda Express in comparison with the McDouble burger from McDonald’s.
|Beijing Beef||Shanghai Angus Steak||McDouble|
|Calories from Fat||360||60||170|
Source: PandaExpress.com and McDonalds.com
In the comparison above, we see a similar situation as with the chicken entrees. The Beijing Beef is noticeably much less nutritious than the McDouble, due to having much more calories, fat, carbohydrates, and sugars. But the Shanghai Angus Steak does much better in comparison. It has fewer calories, fat, cholesterol, and carbohydrates than the McDouble, while the protein content is very similar.
So what’s the verdict? Is Panda Express healthier than other fast food restaurants such as McDonalds? Our opinion is that the answer to that question will highly depend on what meals you are comparing. But we cannot conclusively say that either of the restaurants is any better or worse than the other when it comes to nutrition.
As mentioned previously, Chinese foods tend to be very sweet, so there might be high sugar content in some of the meals. We would recommend looking at each meal and selecting the one that has the lowest calories, fats, and sugars, while having plenty of protein.
Panda Express Prices
Now that we know the nutrition in Panda Express meals is not necessarily better or worse for you than any other fast food meal, what about the price?
Panda Express prices will be much higher if you go with their custom plate meals. However, if you choose to purchase just an entrée, it will run you only about $3.50. In comparison, the Premium Grilled Chicken Sandwich from McDonalds will be about $3.99. As expected, the grilled chicken sandwich is of higher quality, so it’s not surprising that it’s a little more expensive.
If we compare the beef meals, the Panda Express one will still be $3.50, however, the McDouble is on the McDonald’s dollar menu, which means it is only $1.00. The beef fast food industry has had so much time to evolve and grow that the beef burgers will be much cheaper than almost any other meal.
So there you have it! Panda Express is no better or worse than every other fast food restaurant in terms of nutrition. As always, we suggest eating in moderation and choosing meals low in calories and fats, while offering plenty of protein.
Any questions? Leave them in the comments.