Sushi is a quick, satisfying meal, and is generally considered a healthy option when dining out. Other than the price-tag, what’s not to love if you’re into seafood? The truth is, as with most types of cuisine, there are certain items on the sushi menu that are perfect for health-conscious eaters, while it’s better to skip others.
Let’s have a look at a few popular menu items.
Sashimi is a great alternative to a sushi roll because you’re getting all the protein and no rice i.e. simple carbohydrates. White sushi rice is mixed with sugar, salt, and vinegar and due to it being compressed, one eats a lot more of it than you think. Salmon sashimi is an especially good choice since it provides protein and healthy fats (omega-3s), vitamin B12, selenium, and more.
I’ve been curious as to the nutritional differences of wild vs farmed salmon and this article sums it up well. The bottom line is that farmed salmon is fattier and contains more pesticides and calories than wild salmon.
Not really sushi, but often ordered as a starter to a sushi meal. Experts say that edamame has a good balance of fiber, protein, and healthy fats that make it satiating and good for stabilizing blood sugar. It is also believed to have isoflavones that have anticancer properties.
BUT… as we always say here at Equilibrio: “everything in moderation”. Before you start munching on your bowl of edamame please take note. Many restaurants may be serving edamame from genetically modified soybeans which are bad for you. And even organic edamame presents a health threat when it is consumed too regularly. This is due to the high amount of hormone disrupting phytoestrogens and anti-nutrients called protease inhibitors in soy. Protease inhibitors can wreak havoc with both digestion and the pancreas. Traditional fermentation methods like those used to make miso, tempeh and natto help to deactivate the protease inhibitors.
Miso paste is made by fermenting soybeans with salt and koji and sometimes rice and barley. The paste is then softened into a stock called dashi and other ingredients like tofu and wakame are added to the soup. It is said to be brimming with gut-healthy probiotics that give your immune system a boost. But miso soup can be very high in sodium, so be careful about eating it too often.
Try to avoid California rolls made with imitation crab that can include fillers, additives and colouring. Tuna California rolls can be healthy when eaten in moderation (beware that fish like tuna, swordfish and mackerel can have high levels of mercury). Salmon and other white fish are also good options as is real crab.
Vegetarian California rolls are healthy especially if they contain avocado. But they don’t contain much protein unless you add some tamago (egg) or tofu (or have a side of edamame).
FASHION SANDWICHES AND HANDROLLS
Although the fish, vegetables and avocado in fashion sandwiches and handrolls are healthy, unfortunately the mayo adds up to 96 calories (403 kj) per tablespoon! The nori (sheets of seaweed) also has many health benefits but is high in sodium so eat it in moderation.
Tempura rolls and many of the “new style sushi” that often has both tempura and mayo are unsurprisingly the least healthy items on the sushi menu. Anything deep fried in oil will likely contain trans fats due to the chemical changes that happen to the oil when heated to high temperatures. Trans fats have been known to contribute to cardiovascular disease. If you would like some added crunch in your roll, rather add cucumber instead of tempura.
In our never-ending pursuit of balance and health, experts say that overall, sushi is a pretty healthy choice. There are however some ingredients to limit if you’re trying to eat well. Sushi helps us increase our intake of fatty fish and essential fatty acids as well as other healthy elements like avocado and nori. Remember to watch your portion size as little plates and calories do stack up quickly, even without mayo. Check out My Fitness Pal or do a general search to get nutritional values.