Is It Healthy: Sushi?

by in Is It Healthy?, April 27, 2012
Is sushi a good idea for lunch today?

My husband and I make a weekly sushi lunch date.  It’s quick and easy to do in the middle of a busy work day and sushi is made with fish, veggies and rice, so it’s a healthy choice . . . or is it?

Sushi can be a balanced meal with fish, veggies and steamed rice. Opt for fatty fish like salmon and tuna and get your daily dose of omega-3 fats or choose lean white fish or low-calorie shellfish like shrimp or scallops. Veggies like cucumbers and carrots are low in calories and avocado adds heart healthy monounsaturated fat. Many places now serve brown rice in their sushi rolls instead of white for an extra boost of fiber.

You’ll also get a healthy dose of sea vegetables like nori in sushi rolls and wakame in miso soup. These low-calorie veggies are packed with minerals like calcium, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and iodine along with vitamins like E, C, A and various B’s.

Deep-fried vegetables in the form of tempura—whether as an appetizer or in a roll—can bust your waistline. As can ordering numerous sushi rolls  — all that rice can really add up. Some restaurants pack in as much as 1 cup of rice into a 6-piece roll, that’s over 200 calories alone! Add to that cream cheese, fried tempura or mayo-based sauces and the calories can double in a flash. And most people order more than one roll . . .

Don’t forget about the sodium overload. One tablespoon of soy sauce has over 1,000 milligrams of sodium — that’s close to 44% of your daily recommended maximum.

Then there’s the issue of raw fish which can carry parasites and bacteria. If sashimi-grade fish is purchased and the fish is properly frozen, the fish should be parasite-free (they’re easily killed at very cold temperatures).  Bacteria are another story; they can easily thrive on raw fish, which can lead to food poisoning (and its telltale symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps). This is the reason I steer clear of ordering it; I prefer vegetable rolls instead.

The last issue is the mercury found in fish. Regular sushi eaters can be at risk for mercury toxicity as suspected in Entourage star Jeremy Piven, who reportedly ate sushi regularly 1-2 times a day. Avoiding too much mercury is especially important for women of childbearing age, pregnant and lactating women and children as it can cause neurological damage. The FDA recommends these folks eat a maximum of 12-ounces of fish per week.

The Verdict?
Sushi can be a healthy choice if you’re conscious of what you order. Avoid fried dishes, high-calorie fillings, and switch to low-sodium soy sauce. Start by ordering 1 or 2 rolls, edamame, miso soup or other healthier options. You can always add on more food if you’re still hungry.

Tell Us: What’s your take on sushi?

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Comments (1,329)

  1. […] Read at source website […]

  2. Cookingcutie says:

    I absolutely love sushi and would never consider cutting it from my diet to save calories. I avoid the deep-fried, mayo-drizzled, panko-stuffed "sushi" anyway, because that's just intended to hide poor quality fish, and that stuff is filler anyway. I enjoy white rice and don't feel guilty eating it in a roll of sushi. Cut calories elsewhere.

    • Val says:

      Just remember that sushi rice isn't just plain steamed rice — it has sugar and salt added to it as well as vinegar to make it sticky enough to adhere to the roll. A good high protein, low carb approach is to get a mix of rolls and sashimi.

      • chibikitty says:

        not all rice needs to have salt or surger or vinegar added to it to make it sticky if your using the right kind of rice. I've made rice balls and such using sushi rice and if you make it right it's plenty sticky espcealy (sorry can't spell) when you wrap it up with nori.

  3. […] here to see the original: Is It Healthy: Sushi? This entry was posted in Food Network and tagged calorie, choice, dose, healthy, lunch, mercury, […]

  4. Jennifer says:

    I definitely think sushi is healthy — assuming you make smart choices on where to purchase and what to order! Also, following etiquette like dipping the fish side, not the rice side, of a piece of nigiri sushi into soy sauce, ensures you don't consume too much sodium.

    • Twisted Sisters says:

      Not all sushi requires dipping. The chef may prepare the serving w/ ponzu , etc. Sushi is a social experience. One must develop a relationship w/ the chef to fully appreciate the creations of the chef and to share in ones likes and dislikes. There are dishes I used to dislike… Octopus and sea urchin. Properly prepared… I now love. When you discuss the reasons why a dish is undesirable, the chef will take that into consideration when preparing your meal. I will say, there is no making "mountain potato" desirable. It tastes like that glue kids used to make as a kid to make macramé. Fish Eye balls are a bit strange. The lenses have the texture of candy wrapper foil, and the pupils are like eating a BB. Other than that they taste and feel like traditional Chinese fish cakes.

  5. sportsgrl says:

    I prefer sashimi with a bowl of steamed rice. I avoid the North Americanized versions of sushi that are the primary source of the tempura-battered rolls (dragon rolls) and the 'good' rolls with the avocado/cucumber and the cream cheese rolls (I'm lactose intolerant anyway). Please note that 'sushi' itself is vinegared rice, so if you focus more on the sashimi / plainer rolls, you are more than likely to be having a healthier choice. I do lean towards the low-sodium soy sauce, however it is difficult due to a gluten-free requirement which so far requires tamari soy sauce which I have not been able to find in a low-sodium version.

  6. Twisted Sisters says:

    If you decide to opt for Omakase (Chef's Choice), as we do, I think you will get both healthy and delicious food.

  7. […] If you do eat out, this article asks if sushi is a healthy choice. […]

  8. vegan foodie says:

    Considering all the fast food choices and calorie laden dishes offered at other restaurants, Sushi is the least calorie laden. Before changing to eating vegan, I loved sushi and ate it twice a week. It is safe if you know your chef at the restaurant and how fresh his fish is? Nowadays, my menu choice is, steamed edamame, cucumber noodle salad, vegetable egg rolls. I still lose weight when I eat this way and I cannot say that for many restaurant choices out there.

  9. Fish Oil says:

    Your article is not only interesting but also educative. As much as some of us love Sushi, we have to control our consumption rate if some of the things it is likely to contain could cause us harm. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Lyn says:

    Is sushi healthy? Of course it is. All you have to do is look at the people in Asia. They eat sushi DAILY. Look how much healthier they are than the average American. Look how much longer they live and how much thinner they are. Sushi is nothing but raw fish (great for you) vegetables (great for you) seaweed (great for you) and rice (which contrary to fad diet pros, is fine to have in smaller portions daily).

    I don't buy the recommended daily amount of fish bs on here either. Like I said, in asia they eat fish every single day and are FAR healthier than Americans. So I do not trust American "diet pros" giving health advice over them.

    Only problem with sushi is when it's not sushi, but deep tried American-ized "sushi". Full of fat and butter and deep fried garbage but labelled "sushi" which is a lie.

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