is-sushi-healthy
RESTAURANT ARTICLE

Is Sushi Healthy?

Discover the health benefits of this unique food from Japan!

Photo by  kimishowota

Nov 5, 2015
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ushi is a relatively new cuisine to the United States, only arriving after WW2 but has boomed in popularity since its introduction here. Now because if it's popularity, it is quite easy to find every level of sushi all over the place. From upscale establishments to strip mall spots, you can find sushi nearly everywhere. Sushi was actually originally conceptualized as a way to preserve food. The oldest form of sushi, narezushi, is made by wrapping fish in soured fermenting rice. This practice is still used today in Japan. The fermentation type of sushi is far removed from the fresh and vibrant flavors that we are accustomed to today. Those fresh and vibrant flavors are the true draw of modern sushi and the thing that keeps us coming back for more. But, is sushi healthy? Yes and no. Sushi is just like any other cuisine, in that if you aren't careful with your choices you could wind up with a dietary disaster on your hands.

There are some simple steps that you can take to avoid the common pitfalls of calorie laden sushi. Simple modifications and substitutions can go a long way when it comes to healthier versions of your favorite rolls. Let's explore some of the basic do's and don't first, then we will give you some healthy recommendations.

  • Tempura = calories and fat

    Tempura is a fancy way to say battered and deep fried. This is a big no no in the diet world. If you are eating quality fish, the batter and frying will only mask the freshness of the ingredients, so save the calories and fat and let the ingredients speak for themselves.
  • Sodium is hiding, know where to find it

    First of all the soy sauce. Yes, soy sauce adds a punch of flavor, but let's face it; it is packed with sodium. If you are watching your salt intake, too much can spell trouble. We recommend avoiding the soy sauce altogether. If you must have some, forgo the dipping cup and simply put a few drops on each roll. Most of the brown sauces used in sushi restaurants have a high sodium content, so forgo those if possible or reduce the amount you consume.
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    Photo by: goodfon website
  • Spicy = mayonnaise and chili sauce

    Mayonnaise can add up quickly in the fats department. 10 g of fat per tablespoon can pack a hefty punch when multiplied over several portions. Skip the spicy and go with wasabi to add a punch of flavor. Wasabi clocks in at a mere 0.8 g of fat for an entire cup.
  • Always opt for steamed, grilled or raw

    This will give you less of the diet busting add ons that crunchy or tempura rolls will have. Opting for simple preparations of the fish will really allow you to experience the freshness and flavor that is inherent to the fish. Sashimi is a fantastic choice because it is simply the fish without any rice or extra ingredients.
  • Go Vegetarian

    While you will not get the added benefits that come with some of the fish options, you will find fewer calories and fat content which equals a win in the diet department. Many sushi restaurants offer wonderfully vibrant vegetarian options that are simply delicious. One pitfall that can happen with vegetarian options is adding sauce, such as soy to amp up the flavor. All the sauce can be laden with sodium and/or sugar so just remember to go easy on the sauces with these.
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    Photo by: dishmaps
  • Opt for brown rice

    Brown rice has some advantages over white rice when it comes to healthy eating. Brown rice provides lots of healthy fiber, manganese, selenium, and magnesium. Fiber is a critical component of a healthy diet, especially if you are trying to reduce weight. In addition to the benefit of extra fiber and nutrients, studies suggest that replacing white rice in your diet with brown rice may reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
  • Always eat the ginger

    The ginger that's sitting on your plate is so much more than a garnish. Eating ginger has many health benefits including a new study that suggests that ginger may drastically lower blood sugars and improve heart disease risk factors. So the ginger, in addition to the beneficial nutrients it provides may actually help your health in the long term, so eat it when you find it on your plate and stop treating it as a common garnish.
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  • These are some of the diet friendly versions of sushi that we recommend:

  • Cucumber Roll : one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, cucumber

    Why it's a good choice: This roll does not pack quite the nutritional wallop that some of the others do, but cucumbers offer vitamins A and C, fiber and silica. So while this one has minimal benefits, it does have some and is very low in calories and fat.

    Calories: 136, Fat: 0g, Carbs: 30g, Fiber: 3.5g, Protein: 6g

    Cucumber Roll
  • Avocado Roll : one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, avocado

    Why it's a good choice: Avocado is packed with vitamins that are beneficial to health. The avocado is giving you Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Potassium and did you know that Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels?

    Calories: 140, Fat: 5.5g, Carbs: 28g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 2g

    Avocado Roll
  • Tuna Roll : one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, tuna

    Why it's a good choice: More than half of the calories in this roll come from protein. Tuna is also rich is omega-3 fatty acids, which has great health benefits for your cardiovascular system.

    Calories: 184, Fat: 2g, Carbs: 27g, Fiber: 3.5g, Protein: 24g

    Tuna Roll
  • California Roll : one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, avocado, surimi

    Why it's a good choice: This is a great roll that offers the health benefits of avocado. The avocado is giving you Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Potassium and did you know that Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels? In order to boost the health benefits of this one, we recommend substituting the Surimi for real crab to get the added benefit of Omega 3 Fatty Acids.

    Calories: 255, Fat: 7g, Carbs: 38g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 9g

    California Roll
  • Salmon and Avocado Roll: one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, salmon, avocado

    Why it's a good choice. A substantial portion of the calories in this roll are coming from the salmon and avocado. The salmon is giving you Omega 3 fatty acids, Essential Amino Acids and important vitamin such as: A, D, B6, B, and E. The avocado is giving you Vitamin K, Folate, Vitamin C, Potassium and did you know that Eating Avocados Can Lower Cholesterol and Triglyceride Levels?

    Calories: 304, Fat: 8.5g, Carbs: 42g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 13g

    Salmon and Avocado Roll
  • Rainbow Roll: one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, avocado, surimi, plus a variety of raw fish arranged on top.

    Why it's a good choice: Yes, this roll is higher in calories, but the calories are from a healthy source: the fish. For an extra protein punch, ask for fresh crab instead of imitation.

    Calories: 476, Fat: 16g, Carbs: 50g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 33g

    Rainbow Roll
  • These are diet deal breakers:

  • Shrimp Tempura Roll: one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, shrimp, tempura batter, oil for frying

    Why it's a deal breaker: There is the lovely word that we love to hate: Tempura. Remember before we said that tempura simply equals up to battered and deep fried. Skip the unnecessary fats and calories and opt for a healthier option that actually lets the lovely flavors shine through.

    Calories: 508, Fat: 21g, Carbs: 64g, Fiber: 4.5g, Protein: 20g

    Shrimp Tempura Roll
  • Eel and Avocado Roll: one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, avocado, eel

    Why it's a deal breaker: Yes, eel in itself is quite healthy. But the brown sauce that comes with this one is not good. High in both sodium and sugar, this is a definite diet breaker. We have included the sodium and sugars for reference.

    Calories: 372, Fat: 17g, Carbs: 31g, Fiber: 6g, Protein: 20g, Sodium: 439 mg, 13g

    Eel and Avocado Roll
  • Philadelphia Roll: one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, salmon, cream cheese, cucumber

    Why it's a deal breaker: The salmon and cucumber have great benefits as we have already discussed. But the cream cheese is just an unnecessary helping of extra fat.

    Calories: 290, Fat: 12g, Carbs: 28g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 14g

    Philadelphia Roll
  • Spicy Tuna Roll: one 6-8 piece roll

    Ingredients: Nori, rice, tuna, mayo, chili sauce

    Why it's a deal breaker: As we said above, anything with spicy means mayonnaise with chili sauce. All that mayonnaise simply adds up to unnecessary calories. If you are craving this one, you can substitute the spicy part for wasabi.

    Calories: 290, Fat: 11g, Carbs: 26g, Fiber: 3.5g, Protein: 24g

    Spicy Tuna Roll