The Health Benefits of Sushi and How to Choose Healthy Sushi

The Health Benefits of Sushi and How to Choose Healthy Sushi


Let’s briefly talk about Sushi and it’s health benefits. Sushi has taken off in recent years as a favorite cuisine and has a lot of reported health benefits. I wanted to take a few minutes to talk about the contents of sushi and whether or not it really is good for you.

What is in sushi?

Sushi is a japanese food generally consisting of:

  • Cooked, vinegared rice (white or brown)
  • Seafood (typically raw fish or shellfish)
  • Vegetables
  • Sides: ginger, wasabi, soy sauce

Sushi can be presented in a variety of ways, the most common in western diets is either maki, nigiri or sashimi, which you can see here. Obviously, there are many others but these are the more commonly consumed types and the ingredients are relatively similar regardless.

What are the health benefits?

Generally speaking, these are the benefits of sushi consumption:

  • Low calories (generally speaking)
  • Low fat, moderate carbohydrates and high protein
  • Vegetables: Vitamins and minerals
  • Fish: high in protein and  omega 3 fatty acids (healthy heart and brain)
  • Wasabi: antioxidants
  • Ginger: potential immune booster

Below are a couple examples of nutritional content of commonly ordered rolls:

  • California roll: 350 calories, 11g fat, 56g carb, 8g protein
  • Spicy tuna roll: 360 cal, 10g fat, 50g carb, 17g protein
  • Obviously, there is a wide range of rolls that vary from as low as 100 cals to 700-800 cals.

What is unhealthy and are there any risks?

  • Unhealthy: ‘deep fried’ which is known as tempora, covered in mayo-based sauce or high sodium soy sauce, there are going to be unnecessary and unhealthy calories
  • Some fish, especially larger tuna, can be high in mercury, which can be a concern, especially in pregnant women.
  • Some of the more rare fish can carry parasites, however these fish are “super frozen” to very low temperatures which kill any potential parasites

What should you order? Consider the following:

  • As always, moderation is key, Try to eat only a couple rolls
  • Eat a cup of miso soup or edamame first (low cal, fills you up)
  • Any prep with salmon (40 cal/ oz) or tuna (42 cal/oz) are the healthiest fishes you can choose (high in protein, omega-3 fatty acids)
  • Sashimi is fish without the rice (fewer carbs/ calories)
  • Brown rice (high in fiber, contains magnesium, manganese and selenium)
  • Vegetarian rolls (170 calories per roll)
  • Skip the crunchy rolls aka tempora (fried sushi adds unhealthy calories)
  • If you are concerned about high mercury, choose non-fish seafood such as crab, scallop and shrimp
  • Use low sodium soy sauce, and go easy on it
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