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General tso's chicken vs. Sesame chicken — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Erna Harutyunyan by Erna Harutyunyan | Last updated on February 20, 2024
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian Article author photo Elen Khachatrian
General tso's chicken
vs
Sesame chicken

Summary

Sesame chicken is more prosperous in vitamin B2, A RAE, B3, and choline. In contrast, General Tso's chicken has higher vitamin K levels and polyunsaturated fat. Specifically, sesame chicken contains significantly more Vitamin A RAE, with 83µg, whereas General Tso's chicken has only 11µg, making it eight times less. Additionally, General Tso's chicken has a lower sugar content than sesame chicken.

Introduction

Sesame and General Tso's chicken are the most often ordered Chinese dishes. People naturally have tastes in food, but how different are these two dishes in terms of their nutritional value and overall health impact? We shall discover the answer to this question in the following article.

What's the Difference?

General Tso's chicken, originating from Hunan cuisine and Chef Peng Chang-kuei, features a spicy and tangy sauce with ingredients like chicken brothgreen onions, corn starch, brown sugar waterhoisin saucechili peppers, and garlic. This results in a sweet and spicy dish commonly stir-fried with vegetables.

On the other hand, sesame chicken, associated with the Chinese word 'Zongtang,' offers a sweeter alternative. Deep-fried succulent chicken thighs are coated in soy sauce, brown sugar or honey, rice vinegartoasted sesame oil, and ginger, resulting in a sweetsour, and spicy glaze. The nuttier flavor, derived from toasted sesame seeds, further distinguishes sesame chicken and contributes to its unique taste.

When deciding between the two dishes, texture and taste play crucial roles. General Tso's caters to those who enjoy a stir-fry with its spicy kick. At the same time, sesame chicken, with its sweeter profile and nutty undertones, is recommended for those seeking crispy fried chicken. 

Nutrition

The nutritional information below is presented for Chinese restaurants' sesame chicken and General Tso's chicken dishes. The nutritional information does not include rice or broccoli in the dishes; however, the ingredients and amount of breading and sauce may vary from restaurant to restaurant.

Based on 100-gram servings of these dishes, the infographics provide information. However, one average order of sesame chicken weighs 547g, while one General Tso's chicken order weighs 535g.

Macronutrients and Calories

These dishes have similar macronutrient compositions since chicken is the main ingredient in both, and the coating makes up for any nutritional differences.

General Tso's chicken consists of 45% water and 55% nutrients, while sesame chicken contains 43% water and 57% nutrients.

Macronutrient Comparison

Macronutrient breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Fats +14.8%
Contains more Protein +11.1%
Contains more Carbs +12%
Equal in Water - 42.8
Equal in Other - 1.74
13% 16% 24% 45%
Protein: 12.9 g
Fats: 16.36 g
Carbs: 23.99 g
Water: 45.15 g
Other: 1.6 g
14% 14% 27% 43% 2%
Protein: 14.33 g
Fats: 14.25 g
Carbs: 26.88 g
Water: 42.8 g
Other: 1.74 g
Contains more Fats +14.8%
Contains more Protein +11.1%
Contains more Carbs +12%
Equal in Water - 42.8
Equal in Other - 1.74

Calories

General Tso's and sesame chicken are both high-calorie foods. A 100-gram serving of each dish provides around 15% of the recommended daily calorie intake.

Sesame chicken provides 293 calories per 100g serving, while General Tso's chicken provides 295 calories in an equal serving. One average order of sesame chicken provides 1603 calories, while one of General Tso's contains 1580 calories.

Protein

Compared to General Tso's chicken, sesame chicken is around 1.5g richer in protein per 100g serving. The protein in General Tso and sesame chicken is high quality. One order of these dishes covers the daily value of all essential amino acids.

General Tso's chicken has more essential amino acids than sesame chicken.

Fats

General Tso's chicken is higher in fat by about 2g per 100g serving, containing 16.36g, while sesame chicken has 14.25g of fat. Regarding cholesterol content, sesame chicken has 59mg, while General Tso's chicken has slightly less, with 53mg.

The amount of unsaturated and saturated fat in both chicken dishes is nearly equal. The fat compositions of these two dishes are similar. Both sesame and General Tso's chicken contain over 50% polyunsaturated fats, followed by monounsaturated and saturated fats. However, a 100g serving covers over 12% of the recommended daily value of saturated fats.

Fat Type Comparison

Fat type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains less Saturated Fat -12.7%
Equal in Monounsaturated Fat - 3.546
Equal in Polyunsaturated fat - 6.885
20% 27% 53%
Saturated Fat: 2.76 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.879 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 7.501 g
19% 28% 54%
Saturated Fat: 2.41 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 3.546 g
Polyunsaturated fat: 6.885 g
Contains less Saturated Fat -12.7%
Equal in Monounsaturated Fat - 3.546
Equal in Polyunsaturated fat - 6.885

Carbohydrates

Sesame chicken is higher in carbohydrates, by about 2.8g per 100 g serving, due to net carbs such as starch and sucrose. While both dishes are insufficient sources of dietary fiber, General Tso's chicken is slightly richer in fiber. Sesame and General Tsos chicken provide 26.9g and 23.9g of carbohydrates per 100g, respectively.

Starch and sucrose are the predominant carbohydrates in these dishes. There is also glucose and fructose in sesame chicken, whereas there is none in General Tso's chicken.

Carbohydrate type comparison

Carbohydrate type breakdown side-by-side comparison
Contains more Starch +10.6%
Contains more Sucrose +12.7%
Contains more Glucose +251.6%
Contains more Fructose +294.1%
Equal in Starch - 10.7
51% 45% 3% 2%
Starch: 11.83 g
Sucrose: 10.46 g
Glucose: 0.62 g
Fructose: 0.51 g
Lactose: 0 g
Maltose: 0 g
Galactose: 0 g
40% 44% 8% 8%
Starch: 10.7 g
Sucrose: 11.79 g
Glucose: 2.18 g
Fructose: 2.01 g
Lactose: 0 g
Maltose: 0 g
Galactose: 0 g
Contains more Starch +10.6%
Contains more Sucrose +12.7%
Contains more Glucose +251.6%
Contains more Fructose +294.1%
Equal in Starch - 10.7

Vitamins

It's hard to choose a definitive winner in this category as the two dishes are rich in different vitamins.

General Tso's and sesame chicken are excellent sources of B-complex vitamins, containing nearly equal amounts. However, sesame chicken is slightly higher in vitamins B1, AE, and B3 (niacin), B2B6, and vitamin B12.

General Tso's chicken is slightly higher in vitamins  DK, B5, CB9and folate.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
:
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin C +60%
Contains more Folate +37.5%
Contains more Vitamin K +41%
Contains more Vitamin A +211.7%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +48.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +90.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +38.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +32.2%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +13.6%
Contains more Choline +76.6%
Equal in Vitamin E - 1.31
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 6% 25% 6% 6% 7% 28% 54% 38% 47% 9% 28% 23% 96%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Choline Vitamin K 18% 27% 3% 4% 10% 52% 75% 0% 62% 6% 32% 40% 68%
Contains more Vitamin D +100%
Contains more Vitamin C +60%
Contains more Folate +37.5%
Contains more Vitamin K +41%
Contains more Vitamin A +211.7%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +48.1%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +90.7%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +38.8%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +32.2%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +13.6%
Contains more Choline +76.6%
Equal in Vitamin E - 1.31

Minerals

These two chicken dishes are similar in their mineral compositions overall. Nonetheless, sesame chicken is slightly richer in magnesiumselenium, and copper, while General Tso's chicken is higher in iron and zinc.

While both dishes are high in salt, General Tso's chicken contains slightly less sodium. The sodium content per 100g serving of sesame and General Tsos chicken is 482mg and 435mg, respectively.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" charts below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food.
Contains more Zinc +42.9%
Contains more Magnesium +22.2%
Contains more Copper +10.9%
Contains more Manganese +10.7%
Contains more Selenium +16%
Equal in Calcium - 12
Equal in Iron - 1.09
Equal in Phosphorus - 130
Equal in Potassium - 204
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 4% 44% 13% 55% 18% 57% 36% 16% 10% 79%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper Manganese Selenium 4% 41% 16% 56% 18% 63% 25% 17% 11% 92%
Contains more Zinc +42.9%
Contains more Magnesium +22.2%
Contains more Copper +10.9%
Contains more Manganese +10.7%
Contains more Selenium +16%
Equal in Calcium - 12
Equal in Iron - 1.09
Equal in Phosphorus - 130
Equal in Potassium - 204

Glycemic Index

Boiled chicken contains nearly no carbohydrates and has a glycemic index of 0. However, the coating and the deep-frying significantly raise this value.

The glycemic indices of General Tsos and sesame chickens have not yet been calculated. With a glycemic index of 46, they are about the same as chicken nuggets. (1).

Insulin Index

The insulin index values of foods show how eating a particular item raises blood insulin levels. Additionally, no research has been done on General Tsos and sesame chicken's insulin index levels. Compared to roasted chicken, which has an insulin index of 23, chicken nuggets have been shown to have an index of 41 (2, 3). This value is classified as having a low insulin index.

Acidity

Both sesame chicken and General Tso's chicken have acidic properties. Still, sesame chicken has a slightly higher acidity level, with a PRAL of 6.8, compared to General Tso's chicken, which has a PRAL of 6.2.

Health Impact

Sesame and General Tso's chicken may be good sources of proteinvitamins, and minerals, but they are high in saturated fatnet carbs, and sodium, which may negatively impact health. Research has shown that eating a lot of deep-fried food might have a bad influence on one's health overall, raising the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes (4, 5). As vegetables such as broccoli and carrots provide fiber, vitamins, and minerals, eating sesame and General Tso's chicken alongside vegetables can be slightly healthier.

Cardiovascular Health

Several mechanisms suggest that frequent consumption of fried food increases the risk of hypertensioncoronary heart diseasestroke, heart failure, and coronary mortality, including an increase in blood "bad" cholesterol levels (4, 6).  Sesame and General Tso's chicken also contain a high sodium content. Diets high in sodium have also been shown to cause high blood pressure (7).

Diabetes

For those at risk of diabetes, sesame, and General Tso's chicken should be taken strictly in moderation, even if they may have low glycemic and insulin index values. When discussing diabetes risk, the cooking technique could be as important as the meal's contents. Compared to cooking meat at moderate temperatures like boiling, steaming, and stir-frying, cooking meat at high temperatures like deep-frying, grilling, and barbecuing raises the risk of type 2 diabetes (8).

Obesity 

Plenty of fried meals can dramatically increase calorie consumption since they contain more calories than non-fried ones. Weight gain may result from this. 

 Furthermore, research suggests that because trans fats in fried meals can alter hormones that control hunger and fat storage, they may significantly contribute to weight gain (9).

Numerous observational studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between fried food consumption and obesity, regardless of the cause—high trans fat or high-calorie content (10, 11). 

Article author photo Erna Harutyunyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: February 20, 2024
Medically reviewed by Elen Khachatrian

Infographic

General tso's chicken vs Sesame chicken infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the rightmost column. It displays the amounts side by side, giving a clearer understanding of the difference.
General tso's chicken Sesame chicken
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Glycemic Index Equal
Lower in price Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient General tso's chicken Sesame chicken Opinion
Net carbs 23.09g 26.18g Sesame chicken
Protein 12.9g 14.33g Sesame chicken
Fats 16.36g 14.25g General tso's chicken
Carbs 23.99g 26.88g Sesame chicken
Calories 295kcal 293kcal General tso's chicken
Starch 11.83g 10.7g General tso's chicken
Fructose 0.51g 2.01g Sesame chicken
Sugar 11.6g 15.98g General tso's chicken
Fiber 0.9g 0.7g General tso's chicken
Calcium 12mg 12mg
Iron 1.16mg 1.09mg General tso's chicken
Magnesium 18mg 22mg Sesame chicken
Phosphorus 127mg 130mg Sesame chicken
Potassium 201mg 204mg Sesame chicken
Sodium 435mg 482mg General tso's chicken
Zinc 1.3mg 0.91mg General tso's chicken
Copper 0.046mg 0.051mg Sesame chicken
Manganese 0.075mg 0.083mg Sesame chicken
Selenium 14.4µg 16.7µg Sesame chicken
Vitamin A 94IU 293IU Sesame chicken
Vitamin A RAE 11µg 83µg Sesame chicken
Vitamin E 1.21mg 1.31mg Sesame chicken
Vitamin D 6IU 5IU General tso's chicken
Vitamin D 0.2µg 0.1µg General tso's chicken
Vitamin C 1.6mg 1mg General tso's chicken
Vitamin B1 0.027mg 0.04mg Sesame chicken
Vitamin B2 0.118mg 0.225mg Sesame chicken
Vitamin B3 2.853mg 3.96mg Sesame chicken
Vitamin B5 0.617mg General tso's chicken
Vitamin B6 0.202mg 0.267mg Sesame chicken
Folate 11µg 8µg General tso's chicken
Vitamin B12 0.22µg 0.25µg Sesame chicken
Choline 41.5mg 73.3mg Sesame chicken
Vitamin K 38.2µg 27.1µg General tso's chicken
Tryptophan 0.142mg General tso's chicken
Threonine 0.552mg General tso's chicken
Isoleucine 0.564mg General tso's chicken
Leucine 1.026mg General tso's chicken
Lysine 1.089mg General tso's chicken
Methionine 0.332mg General tso's chicken
Phenylalanine 0.563mg General tso's chicken
Valine 0.607mg General tso's chicken
Histidine 0.333mg General tso's chicken
Cholesterol 53mg 59mg General tso's chicken
Trans Fat 0.09g 0.045g Sesame chicken
Saturated Fat 2.76g 2.41g Sesame chicken
Omega-3 - DHA 0.005g 0.005g
Omega-3 - EPA 0.005g 0.003g General tso's chicken
Omega-3 - DPA 0.006g 0.006g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.879g 3.546g General tso's chicken
Polyunsaturated fat 7.501g 6.885g General tso's chicken
Omega-6 - Eicosadienoic acid 0.011g 0.009g General tso's chicken
Omega-6 - Linoleic acid 6.47g 5.925g General tso's chicken
Omega-6 - Gamma-linoleic acid 0.005g 0.039g Sesame chicken
Omega-3 - ALA 0.84g 0.774g General tso's chicken
Omega-3 - Eicosatrienoic acid 0.001g 0.001g
Omega-6 - Dihomo-gamma-linoleic acid 0.01g 0.009g General tso's chicken

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
General tso's chicken Sesame chicken
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet ok
Low Calories diet ok
Low Glycemic Index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamins & Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score

The summary scores indicate the extent to which this food can fulfill your daily vitamin and mineral requirements if you consume 3 servings, consisting of 100 grams of each (an approximation of 3 serving sizes).
Vitamins Daily Need Coverage Score
28%
General tso's chicken
30%
Sesame chicken
Minerals Daily Need Coverage Score
33%
General tso's chicken
34%
Sesame chicken

Comparison summary

Which food is richer in minerals?
Sesame chicken
Sesame chicken is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Sesame chicken
Sesame chicken is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 0.35g)
Which food is lower in Sugar?
General tso's chicken
General tso's chicken is lower in Sugar (difference - 4.38g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
General tso's chicken
General tso's chicken contains less Sodium (difference - 47mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
General tso's chicken
General tso's chicken is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 6mg)
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes ()
Which food is cheaper?
?
The foods are relatively equal in price ($)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

All the values for which the sources are not specified explicitly are taken from FDA’s Food Central. The exact link to the food presented on this page can be found below.

  1. General tso's chicken - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/167675/nutrients
  2. Sesame chicken - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168087/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000-calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.