Raw fish, vegetables, and rice sounds like a very healthy option, right? Well, unlike Chinese food, sushi has a misleading reputation of being healthy. Although it has a good potential for being a healthy food choice, just like any other cuisine, you have to mind what you are ordering. As in all restaurants, one has to be careful from where to order, maybe more so if you are intending to eat raw fish! So that is another health factor one has to consider.
Here we need to note two important factors. First is that sushi is a rice mix, so yes it is possible to eat sushi without eating raw fish. Sushi can also be served with chicken or duck, both of which are actually served cooked, or with vegetables, eggs, and even some cooked fish. Secondly, if the chef is experienced it is rather easy to detect infected fish and avoid contamination while preparing the food, so although it is a fact that eating raw fish can lead to disease, it’s not much riskier than eating in any restaurant that isn’t handling food correctly! After all food poisoning wasn’t introduced with sushi restaurants
So is sushi healthy? Well, rice, in truth, isn’t the healthiest option. Even though it is slightly better than pasta, it’s more or less in the same category. To make things worse, sushi rice is mixed with vinegar, sugar, and salt, so avoid large rice portions! Mayonaise or fried ingredients are other factors to consider, so although sushi can be very healthy, there are unhealthy options available as well. As always, moderate portions are an important factor, so keep your orders small. Soy is also high in salts, so keep that in mind as well.
That being said, sushi has many health benefits! The fatty fish are rich in omega oils that are recommended to be eaten once or twice a week. Seaweed is also rich in protein, fibers, and minerals so one more bonus to our health! The veggies used in sushi are also usually very good for our health, like cucumber and avocado. So yes, if you are ordering right, sushi can be a very healthy order that can be eaten twice a week.
Last but not least, keep in mind the mercury in the fish. This isn’t just for sushi, but any fish! So although fish is healthy, not all fish is recommended to be eaten daily! Some fish like salmon has less mercury than others, tuna for example has higher levels, so being careful what fish to order more of is also key here! So let’s try and find out some of the healthiest and least healthy options!
Let’s start with the positive and take a look at what is the best choice. Salmon, avocado, cucumber, and seaweed are some of the ingredients we want here, tuna is also good, however, it has a slightly higher mercury level than salmon. Black rice is also way better than white rice, so do try those black rolls! Let’s hope your favorite dish is on this list!
- Sashimi is basically just fish, so here you are avoiding the carbs altogether! This is a great dish, just remember not to eat it daily cos of the mercury levels found in fish, however, if you are eating sushi twice a week, this is perfect!
- Rainbow Roll is a mix of so many healthy fish! It is filled with natural, good fats, and so no much is added to it. Usually, it’s a California Roll topped with a mix of sashimi.
- California Roll is another mayo-free option. The crab is usually imitation crab so that is not the best, but no other fats are usually added to this roll, so it’s still healthy.
- Veggie Rolls are also usually healthy. A mix of veggies and some rice, not much to go wrong with. Just make sure it is not accompanied by fatty sauces or cheeses (like Philadelphia and mayonnaise)
- Naturo Rolls are not only fresh and delicious but also have the potential to be carbs-free!! These are rolls wrapped in cucumber slices rather than rice, so unless they are packed with mayo or cheese these are just as healthy as sashimi if not healthier!
- Temaki or Hand Rolls are another option for no or a small amount of rice. These are seaweed cones usually filled with fish and veggies and a bite of rice, so the rice to other ingredients ratio is much better!
Now that we’ve seen our healthiest choices, let’s consider the dishes that should be avoided or counteracted for! Of course, deep-fried dishes or ingredients and cheese and mayo are on the list to avoid or limit, however, some of the fish is also on this list! This includes swordfish, shark, mackerel (unless you’re sure it’s Atlantic mackerel), and marlin, these fish are considered very high in mercury and so shouldn’t be eaten much, especially if you are eating other fish regularly!
- Tempura is a deep-fried batter coating a variety of ingredients. It’s deep-fried, so of course, this is one of the worst options on the menu! (Delicious, but definitely not healthy!)
- Philadelphia Roll is named for a cream cheese, not much health benefit potential here, right? This is another fatty option on the menu.
- ‘Spicy’ Roll any kind of spicy roll! Unlike Chinese food, here spicy is another word for mayo! They usually use spice-infused mayo to give heat, so avoid spicy rolls.
- Dragon Roll is not only spicy but also contains eel or unagi! Unfortunately, it is not easy to find eel that isn’t covered in a sugary syrup, so this roll has both mayo and a good amount of sugar. Not the ideal order!
- Shrimp Tempura Roll well, this contains tempura so it means the shrimp is covered in batter and deep-fried, again, not the healthy option we consider sushi to be, right?
So, should we order Sushi tonight?
I would say, maybe order it for lunch so you have more time to burn the rice! However, yes, with a little understanding of what you are ordering, sushi can be a very healthy take-out!! Healthy fish options, great veggies that taste amazing, seaweed is packed with health benefits and sesame seeds! We totally haven’t mentioned sesame seeds yet, which are tiny bombs of calcium, iron, and magnesium, contain a good amount of Vitamin B, fiber, and healthy fats! So actually, sushi does have a lot of fats if you think about it, however, if you choose right, you’re taking a good amount of healthy fats that actually will lower cholesterol levels!
However, just like everything in life, you probably shouldn’t eat sushi every day. Fish should be eaten often but not daily, so unless you opt for fish-free sushi, you shouldn’t eat it daily, and as always mind your portions! If you are making sushi your diet maybe you shouldn’t eat more than one roll per serving, to be honest, it is rather filling so one roll should be enough.