Pad Thai or Pad Pak: Which of These Easy Asian Dishes Is Healthier?

Pad Thai is wildly popular. Most people have never heard of Pad Pak. Which of these easy Asian dishes is better?

Pad Pak—stir-fried vegetables with chicken, shrimp, or tofu and a small side of rice—wins, hands down. That’s because Pad Thai— rice noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, egg, tofu, and crushed peanuts—is such bad news.

At Pick Up Stix, for example, the Chicken Pad Thai has 670 calories and 2,110 milligrams of sodium. At Pei Wei, the calories for this most well known of Asian dish (even for the Vegetable & Tofu Pad Thai) hover around 1,500, and the sodium rounds to a hard-to-believe 5,000 mg—enough for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

How to Cut Calorie Density (Plus Three Recipes)

Eating foods with fewer calories per bite can help people eat less and stay trim. But what’s the best way to cut calorie density?

One day a week for four weeks, scientists provided all the food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, and evening snack) eaten by 59 adults aged 20 to 45. On those days, the researchers lowered the calorie density of the entrées by 20 percent in one of three ways: adding less fat (butter or oil), increasing fruits and vegetables, or adding water. (For example, the researchers added water to a Tex-Mex pasta casserole and a chicken rice casserole by turning them into soups.)