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Lipstick on a Panda

Lipstick on a PandaPanda Express announced that starting this week, all 1,500 locations will now serve their fried rice made with brown rice instead of white rice.

Big deal: fried rice is still fried, even if it’s brown.

With a nod to whole grains, the marketing folks behind the aging chain’s “Bright and Fresh” restaurant makeover hope to entice more health-conscious eaters.

Panda’s new fried brown rice has 470 calories, 19 grams fat, and 3 grams fiber per serving. Compare that to its steamed brown rice (a bigger portion) that clocks in at 420 calories, 0 g fat, and 4 grams fiber.

While the steamed brown rice is a better option than the fried, its 87 grams carbohydrate for 4 grams fiber doesn’t meet the new Harvard “10:1″ ratio for choosing whole grains: for every 10 grams of carbohydrate, aim for at least 1 gram of fiber.

Your best bet is to split the steamed brown rice, and load up on veggies.

If you’re counting calories and still eating at Panda Express, look for their WOK SMART entrees which are 250 calories or less per single serving.

The WOK SMART portion sizes are small, and they’re high in sodium, but at least they’re not full of fried whole grains!

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