Sushi is a well-rounded ball of happiness with a balance of flavors and a good play on toppings and ingredients.
This Japanese dish makes a great snack, lunch, dinner, or appetizer. Sushi lovers swear they can eat the delicacy forever! But is sushi healthy? Does sushi make you fat?
All About Sushi
Sushi is one of the famous traditional Japanese dishes. This dish is based on a variety of lightly vinegared rice.
There are several styles of sushi presentation, but the key ingredient to the dish is sushi rice. Sushi rice is also called “Shari” or “Sumeshi,” which means vinegared rice.
The rice can be of different types, like medium-grain white rice, brown rice, or short-grain rice.
Sushi is served with raw or cooked fish combined with vegetables. There are many toppings and fillings that the dish can be served with, too.
Among these toppings are salmon, tuna, tofu, avocado, vegetables, and wasabi. Other ingredients include squid, yellowtail, and crab meat.
Most sushi rolls are vegetarian, served with wasabi, pickled ginger, and soy sauce. Sushi is often garnished with daikon radish or pickled daikon.
Types of Sushi
Sushi has different types you might be confused with. You’ve probably mistaken sushi for sashimi. However, they’re two different dishes.
If you’re not too keen on the differences in the types of sushi, here’s a simple list for you:
Sashimi is a type of sushi with thinly sliced fish or other meats. It is often confused with sushi, but sushi is made with vinegar rice shaped into mounds, while sashimi is the raw food itself.
This type of sushi can also be sliced into various shapes. Sashimi comes in thin strips, rectangles, diagonal slices, and flat slices.
You’re probably familiar with maki. Maki is a type of sushi that’s shaped cylindrically. It is wrapped with toasted seaweed nori filled with various flavors. Maki is basically sushi with vegetables, fish, and sushi rice layered one after another.
Temaki’s literal translation is “hand roll.” This type of sushi is seasoned sushi rice and fish, greens, and vegetables layered atop one another. Temaki is wrapped in a crisp sheet of nori. It is single, cone-shaped sushi.
Uramaki is also referred to as a “revel roll” because, unlike the usual wrapping technique, uramaki is inside out. In this type of sushi, the seaweed is inside the sushi roll. But similarly, this type of sushi is a roll of sushi rice, seaweed, and filling.
Nigiri is a type of sushi that means “two fingers.” This type of sushi uses special, vinegared sushi rice, balled to be topped with thinly-sliced raw fish or other types of meat.
Nutritional Content of Sushi
A 211-gram sushi roll has the following nutritional content:
By knowing these contents, you’re probably wondering, “is sushi healthy” and “does sushi make you fat.” But did you know that sushi has a number of health benefits for you? The following section will discuss how sushi can benefit you.
Sushi Health Benefits: Is sushi healthy?
Sushi isn’t only delicious. It’s delicious food with many health benefits. If you love sushi, you’ll probably love the dish more once you learn why it’s excellent for your nutrition.
1. Sushi is a healthy source of protein
Most sushi rolls use raw fish. One of the foods rich in protein is fish. Protein helps in repairing and building bodily tissues.
It is an essential nutrient required for metabolic reactions that coordinate your body’s functions. Besides that, protein maintains the pH-fluid balance in your body.
2. Sushi provides Omega-3 fats
Omega-3 is good for our hearts. It reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Not only that, but Omega-3 also prevents blood clots in the body. Other benefits of Omega-3 include anti-inflammatory properties and brain boosters.
3. Sushi can prevent wrinkle formation
Picked ginger, seaweed, and wasabi have antioxidant properties. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties go together.
These properties help protect our cells from damage, like wrinkles, brought on by free radicals. If these free radicals reach high levels, they will cause harm to our bodies.
4. Brown sushi rice is a healthy source of carbohydrates
Brown rice is perfect for health-conscious individuals. It’s a healthier option to pick sushi with brown rice to reduce starch, salt, and vinegar.
5. Sushi is a mood stabilizer
Yes, you read that correctly. Eating sushi regularly has been found to help with serious conditions including psychosis and bipolar disorders. Vitamin B12 is a brain food that aids in fighting depression, anxiety, and confusion.
With the number of health benefits sushi provides, you might think that this dish does not create any negative impact on your body. But remember, too much of anything can be bad.
It’s a controversial topic in discussion groups and forums. Many people ask, does sushi make you fat?
Does sushi make you fat?
Most people classify sushi as healthy. Yes, it is, but it depends on the type of sushi you order. Some types of sushi are high in calories.
Let’s say you ate two shrimp tempura rolls for lunch. These two rolls quickly add approximately 1,000 calories and 40g of fat to your day’s intake. In conclusion, eating sushi regularly can contribute to weight gain.
As you can see, sushi may look compact, but one of the biggest concerns is its calorie content. Hence, if you like eating sushi, you must practice portion control.
But, don’t worry too much about it. Luckily, there are healthier sushi options you can try!
Best Sushi for Health
Here are several sushi options you can enjoy. These options are healthier and contain less fat and calories.
- Avocado Sushi: Incorporating avocado together with fish and vegetables is a healthier sushi option. Because avocado has heart-healthy fats and fiber, it can do good for your kidneys, heart, and nerves.
- Vegetarian Sushi Roll: Not every sushi needs to have fish. Health-conscious individuals and vegetarians can opt to eat veggie rolls. Veggie sushi rolls can have avocados, cucumbers, carrots, mushrooms, onions, and tofu. One of the most popular toppings for vegetarian sushi is pickled ginger.
- California Roll: A California sushi roll includes imitation crab, nori, rice, avocado, and cucumber. It is most often served as uramaki, where the rice is outside and the other ingredients are on the inside. This type of sushi is lower in calorie content and has fewer fatty ingredients.
- Rainbow Roll: The Rainbow roll is another type of uramaki sushi with cucumber, avocado, and crab. Most of the time, this sushi is made with tuna, salmon, and yellowtail. This sushi is quite similar to the California Roll. The only difference is the addition of salmon, tuna, and avocado.
- Tuna Roll: To get the best Omega-3s content, choose Tuna Rolls. This type of sushi is a healthy option. But if you’re eyeing spicy tuna, be careful. Any additive can increase levels of fat and calories.
How to make sushi healthier
What are things to watch out for when eating sushi? You can choose to pick healthier options, but there are some practices you can follow for optimal nutritional benefits.
Below are tips to make eating sushi healthier:
- Minimize your rice intake.
- Look for fresh fish.
- Choose sashimi-style dishes or seaweed-wrapped sushi.
- Keep soy sauce to a minimum.
- Avoid deep-fried dishes.
- Go easy on eating mayonnaise.
- Practice portion control.
- Increase the protein content of your meal. You may pair your sushi with edamame, miso soup, salad, or sashimi.
- Avoid sushi with cream cheese or tempura, as they are high in fat.
- Order sushi from creditable restaurants.
- Pick temaki. Temaki contains less rice than other traditional rolls.
- Choose brown rice sushi over regular white rice sushi.
Is sushi safe to eat?
One of the most common misconceptions about sushi is that all sushi contains raw fish. However, there are many types of sushi that do not have fish.
Here’s the thing: eating sushi with raw meat is risky if precautions aren’t taken. Raw seafood may contain bacteria, viruses, and other parasites that lead to infection.
But don’t worry! What’s great is that there are several ways you can prevent foodborne diseases. So, how can you prevent illness from eating sushi?
We recommend only visiting reputable sushi restaurants with highly-skilled and well-trained staff. Knowledgeable staff and sushi chefs can easily detect whether any dish has gone bad.
Another thing you should consider is picking the right fish. Preparing a sushi roll requires fish suitable for “sushi style.”
So, is sushi healthy, and does sushi make you fat? Sushi provides us with many nutritional benefits if taken in moderation. These benefits include its anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, and protein-rich content.
But as they say, too much of everything is not good. Hence, sushi must be taken while practicing portion control. Six rolls may already be enough for a happy stomach!
Hiroshi Nakamura, a Tokyo-born sushi chef turned US-based writer and critic, is the voice behind ichisushi.com, blending traditional sushi wisdom with modern insights.