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Is Sushi Healthy For You

By Edited Dec 3, 2013 3 4
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California roll, philadelphia roll, Big Mac?  There seems to be a lot of misinformation out there regarding the health benefits (or pitfalls) of eating sushi.  We'd like to take on these questions and get to the bottom line of should you be including sushi as part of a healthy eating lifestyle or if it is just adding to your wasteline.
Let's start with a high level look at the calorie count.
Your typical sushi roll consists of rice, seaweed, fish, and an array of vegetables.  Some examples of what you could expect from a calorie perspective are as follows:
Avocado Roll = 140 calories
Salmon Roll = 160 calories
Tuna Roll = 180 calories
Not bad, right?  Now consider some of the extras that could be including in a roll: spicy sauce, cream cheese, mayo, crunchies.  These are found in many sushi rolls out there and start to paint a different overall story of the health of what you're eating.  Here are examples of some of the same fish types mentioned above in these 'extra' rolls
Spicy Tuna Roll = 290 calories
Philadelphia Roll (Salmon with Cream Cheese) = 350 calories
Shrimp Tempura Roll = 500 calories
Yikes.  So considering a Big Mac is listed by Mcdonald's as 550 calories, you're essentially consuming the same number of calories by eating a shrimp tempura roll!
What should I be concerned about besides calories?
On top of the straight up calorie count described above, there is the tendancy within many Western civilizations to deep fry food - you know, tempura it!  This is where many sushi dishes take a turn from being just what you need to balance your diet to the last thing your belly requires.

Soy sauce also adds a tremendous amount of salt to your meal.  A few generous dips with your sushi can equate to an entire day's worth of sodium!
An additional risk that one must think about (albeit much smaller) is the mercury and bacteria found in fish.  If you're going to a reputable, clean establishment, you won't need to worry as much about the bacteria.  While mercury is a risk, you would need to consume a ton of fish for it to come into play.  It would also depend on the amount of mercury within the fish - salmon has a lower amount than tuna for example.
What can you do to make sushi 'healthier' for you?
Brown Rice
There are a variety of options that are available to someone who enjoys sushi and want to make it part of a healthy diet.  Beyond the obvious options of staying away from anything fried, crispy, spicy or with mayo, many restaurants offer brown rice in their rolls instead of white rice.  Brown rice has been proven to be packed with many more nutrients than it's lighter option.
Another option is to skip the rice altogether.  Sashimi is delicious in its own right, and if you find the right restaurant that has a melt-in-your-mouth type tuna, you'll never miss the outer shell.
Many restaurants offer low sodium soy sauce as well which is an easy replacement to make to ensure a healthy diet.
In conclusion
There are some absolute benefits to eating sushi including a high amount of fiber, vitamins, and omega-3 acids.  As we've shown above, there are also some definitive steps that you can take to ensure your meal is as healthy as can be.  Therefore, if your goal is to include sushi in a healthy diet, there is really no reason you can not do so - just stay away from the tempura!
Sushi Dream
A Sushi Dream any of us could live with!


May 10, 2013 7:29pm
I am not at all a health nut and I love sushi--I like your article too so 2 big thumbs for U.
May 10, 2013 9:35pm
Thank you! Sushi has really grown on me to the point that I have it at least once a week. The last picture in the article is from a happy hour in San Diego where all of the rolls were super cheap :)
Jun 23, 2013 6:56am
I always knew that my favorite sushi rolls consisted of calories but I had no idea they could have as much as a big mac, wow. I try to limit the amount of times i eat sushi per month, but now I will also consider ordering some healthier options.
Aug 14, 2013 12:43pm
even with the calories, I will take a full stomach of Sushi over a 'rock in the stomach' Big Mac any day.
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