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Is Sushi Healthy For You? The Answer Might Surprise You

Who doesn’t enjoy a fun night out for sushi? I mean, what’s not to love? It’s delicious, there’s a huge variety to choose from, and it usually comes out beautifully prepared for your visual pleasure. Some dishes are so artfully plated that I almost hate to destroy them (but of course I do with no regrets).

Assortment of sushi in a wooden boat platter. Looks amazing but is sushi healthy for you?
It Looks Good, But is Sushi Good For You? (Image Source: Unsplash)

But don’t let all that fancy service fool you when it comes to the nutritional content of your meal. We know that consuming more fish has been linked to many health benefits like reducing inflammation, boosting your mood,  and providing you with some much-needed omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Unfortunately, some of your favorite fancy sushi dishes made with elaborate ingredients and topped with sweet and salty sauces could be sabotaging your best efforts to order a healthy meal and reap the benefits.

Is Sushi Unhealthy?

Since there are so many options when it comes to ordering sushi, let’s look at some of the most popular dishes to evaluate so you have a clear understanding of the nutritional basics. Take a typical sushi roll made with white rice. It can easily be the equivalent to eating 3 slices of bread or up to a cup of rice per roll! That can add up to about 300–500 calories, and that’s before any fancy sauce or toppings. One sushi roll is never enough, and most people typically end up eating two or three. It is important to keep this in mind if your overall goal is to lose weight or reduce the amount of carbs in your diet.

Additionally, if you dip your rolls in soy sauce (and who doesn’t?), you could be consuming well over the recommended allotment of sodium per day. Just one tablespoon of soy sauce has almost 900 milligrams of sodium. According to the American Heart Association, you should consume no more than 2,300 milligrams per day, with an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 milligrams per day for most adults. So indulging in that one tablespoon of soy sauce accounts for over half of your daily sodium goal.  You can see how quickly these numbers add up.

Sushi Ingredients

Not all sushi is bad for you. It depends a lot on the ingredients used and how it is prepared. Most sushi dishes consist of fish, pickled vegetables, miso, and seaweed. These ingredients offer a wide variety of health benefits.

Preparing the ingredients for sushi – Yomo Sushi

The protein and healthy fats from fish can help build and repair muscles and will keep you full and satisfied with your meal. Besides, there is some solid evidence that the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish help reduce inflammation, which is at the core of many chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and depression.

Miso and pickled vegetables found in sushi provide many benefits due to the probiotics they contain. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that help improve gut health. They may improve digestive health, reduce depression, and promote heart health. Some studies even link probiotics to healthier-looking skin.

Man making sushi.
Always Choose Fresh and Healthy Sushi Ingredients (Image Source: Unsplash)

The iodine in seaweed can help keep your thyroid healthy, which controls your metabolism and heart rate. Seaweed also contains a good amount of vitamin A to help give your skin that glowing appearance and boost your immunity.

What Sushi is the Healthiest?

Skip the rice

To maximize the health benefits of sushi, look for rolls wrapped in cucumber instead of white rice. Sushi rice is a source of hidden sugar, which can contribute to elevated blood sugar levels. If you must keep the rice, opt for brown rice, which has more fiber and nutritional value. You can also request a low-carb menu, seek out restaurants that cater to low-carb eating plans, or ask for cauliflower rice sushi (or make your own using the recipe below).

Limit your order to one roll

Choose your favorite sushi roll and pair it with other healthy sides that are less likely to spike your blood sugar and will help balance things out. Great side dishes include edamame, miso soup, veggies, or a side salad with ginger dressing.

Sushi on a plate.
Add Sides To Your Sushi To Balance Your Meal (Image Source: Unsplash)

The simpler the better

Watch out for dishes that use the terms crispy or smothered. These types of rolls are typically full of excess fat and calories. You’re better off ordering simple rolls that aren’t topped with extra sauces or coated in a deep-fried batter. Another healthy option would be to order sashimi with a side of veg.

The bottom line is that a lot of people think of sushi as one of the healthiest options when eating out. And it can be, depending on what ingredients are used, how it is prepared, and how much you eat. Being mindful of these three elements can help you enjoy a night out for sushi without the guilt.

Cauliflower Rice Sushi Recipe

Recipe Source: SheKnows

Serves 4

Spicy tuna sushi roll using cauliflower rice served on a platter with soy dipping sauce.
Try This Sushi Recipe Using Cauliflower Rice (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Ingredients

  • 1 pack sushi-grade rice, sliced thin and cut diagonally
  • 1 package of riced cauliflower
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Scallions, thinly sliced and long
  • Cucumber, thinly sliced and long
  • Avocado, thinly sliced and long
  • Toasted nori sheets

Optional Toppings

  • Pickled ginger
  • Wasabi
  • Tamari or low-sodium soy sauce

Directions

  1. In a skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat and add the riced cauliflower. Saute for a few minutes until it becomes tender. Add 2–3 tbsp of water if it starts to dry out.
  2. Place the nori sheets on a bamboo mat and spread 3–4 tbsp of cauliflower rice onto the sheet. It should cover most of the sheet, leaving a 1-inch gap at the end furthest away from you.
  3. Layer on the sliced tuna and veggies to the end closest to you. Wet the end without rice with a small amount of water and roll up into a long roll.
  4. Remove from bamboo mat and slice into 6–8 pieces, depending on how thick or thin you want them to be. Top with pickled ginger and dip into wasabi or tamari sauce.
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