Japan has offered so much to the world – technology, culture, anime, art, and food. But when you think about the country’s cuisine, the first thing that comes to mind is sushi. While it is a staple food in the mother nation, in other countries, it is a luxury choice in high-end restaurants.
Even if you dislike fish, sushi is a dish you would ironically throw all your money for. Those eye-catching colors and various flavors make you want to try them all, but is sushi healthy?
Sushi is beneficial for you in general, but you might be surprised at how this rich treat can affect your well-being in different ways.
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Sushi: A “Roll” Model for a Balanced Meal
The different constituents of sushi make it somewhat a balanced meal. It contains protein, carbs, fiber, and necessary vitamins and minerals. Let’s break down the components and see the individual health benefits.
Packed with Protein:
Fish is the ultimate source of protein, be it from the ocean or rivers. The fact that sushi fish is raw or cured in the vinegar helps it retain all the essential nutrients. Commonly used proteins in this dish are tuna, salmon, seabass, and shrimp.
All of these fishes are rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. These chemical components are essential for the growth of muscles, hair, and skin. They also help to prevent heart diseases and even cancer.
Salmon and tuna have a very low-fat content per serving. This is an excellent advantage as you enjoy that delicious fish that is also healthy for you.
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The Sea Greens:
Some sushi rolls have a layer of seaweed around them. As it is a plant-based food, seaweed naturally has high fiber and protein content.
Fiber creates bulk in undigested food and helps it pass through the intestines easily. This helps keep your digestive tract working smoothly and greatly reduces constipation.
So even if you don’t like your icky greens, you’ll love seaweed! And when sushi is wrapped in it, you get a delicious combination of flavors and health benefits.
A Good Burn:
When you try sushi for the first time, you have to see the light green paste on the side. Typically, as sauces go, you thought this was similar and dolloped a whole spoonful onto your roll. Indeed, the regret was instant when your nose and mouth were on fire!
Despite the super strong flavor and blaze in your nasal passageway, wasabi is rich in vitamins in minerals. This dressing is a hub of nutrients that prevents cancer, heart diseases, asthma, and high blood pressure, even in the tiniest amount. Wasabi is also high in Vitamin C and antioxidants.
Sushi is a great way to trick the kids into eating their fish and vegetables. The bright and colorful presentation of the dish makes it looks delicious anyway. Common plant-based items in sushi include avocado, cucumber, lettuce, zucchini, bell peppers, and even sweet potatoes.
Tofu is an excellent alternative for people who don’t eat fish or meat. All these vivid vegetables are rich in fiber, and vitamin C. Tofu is an excellent source of protein and essential fatty acids. These food groups have very few calories but still leave you feeling full and satisfied.
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Ginger Spice is Everything Nice:
Though the side of ginger pickle is used as a palate cleanser, it still has a lot of benefits. Ginger is rich in minerals such as potassium and magnesium. These help the proper functioning of your kidneys and muscles.
Scientists have also discovered that this root helps with gastrointestinal issues, heartburn, and diarrhea. So, if you’re feeling too full after eating all that sushi, a bit of that sour ginger will take away all the bloating gas.
Another great benefit is that pickled ginger is very low in calories and has no fat. Even if mixed with vinegar and salt, the end product has very little sodium, which causes no harm.
Other Sprinkles and Dips
A vital side of sushi is soy sauce. It balances all the flavors, but it also gives the whole dish a rich, umami tang. This condiment already has sodium, so you don’t need to sprinkle salt on your sushi for a better taste.
Let’s not forget about sesame seeds! California rolls are the most common type of sushi that has this garnish. Sesame seeds are a great source of plant-based fiber and have a lot of protein, calcium, and vitamins.
You get all the necessary supplements from these tiny bits. These seeds have been found to reduce hypertension, make bones more robust, lower cholesterol, and support the growth of red blood cells.
Balance is Peace:
You’ve guessed it – all the primary food groups are there. Consider the primary ingredients in sushi – rice, vegetables, salt from soy sauce, sugar from rice syrup, seaweed, and fish. Notice anything interesting about the whole combination?
The Japanese have mastered making sushi with the perfect ratios of its components. Thus, you are getting an entirely balanced meal from a single dish. So, it is not just balanced and healthy, but it leaves your taste buds tingling with satisfaction.
Is Sushi Healthy Plate After Plate?
As heartbreaking as it sounds, too much sushi and the wrong type can be bad for your health. Let’s look at the components that make the dish a not-so-balanced meal.
Rice is Not Everything Nice:
Despite rice being the prime ingredient in sushi, too much of it doesn’t bear too well for your health. This grain is a core component and makes up most of the overall calories per serving.
Unfortunately, it would be impossible to consider sushi without rice (unless we’re talking about sashimi!). Studies have shown that people feel full and sleepy after eating sushi in large quantities. So, you won’t be able to enjoy the sushi by taking the rice out – it will taste like a disaster.
Rice constitutes about 70% of the whole sushi, which means you get a higher amount of carbohydrates in just one bite. With all that surplus of calories, say goodbye to losing weight and hello to fat deposits in your body.
Plenty of Fish in the Sea, But Not All are Worthy:
The choice of fish in sushi is crucial in how good the dish is for your body. Typically, the ones with tuna, salmon, or crab are the better ones with fewer drawbacks to health.
Swordfish, mackerel, and marlin fish-based sushi are the ones you should steer clear of. These are the types that contain high volumes of mercury. This element causes kidney failure and congenital disabilities when consumed by pregnant women.
A significant reason most people never want to try sushi is that it uses raw fish. Apart from sounding unappetizing, uncooked fish is a reservoir of parasites and unpleasant bacteria.
Since sushi is served cold, it provides an even better environment for certain bacteria and worms to thrive. You will not see those when eating because they are microscopic. However, there is no doubt that these critters exist, and you might have no idea how many of them you swallow.
The effect may not be immediate if you eat a regular serving size. But since sushi is so addicting, you could eat them non-stop. This doubles the number of parasitic worms that enter your body.
Sodium is needed in small amounts to keep the body’s required electrolytes in a balanced state. Too much sodium will eventually block arteries in the heart, cause high blood pressure, and damage kidneys. But considering the taste of soy sauce, your taste buds can already guess how much salt it has.
You will most likely dip the sushi in soy sauce for every bite you take because it enhances the overall flavor. As a result, you will lose track of how often you’ve soaked those rolls, and you unknowingly harm your blood vessels and central nervous system.
That Green Stuff isn’t What You Think it is:
Real wasabi can only be found in Japan, and it is costly to export outside. As a substitute, most restaurants use horseradish or even ground mustard. Artificial food coloring is added to these to get the shade of wasabi.
Horseradish and mustard do not have the same health benefits as wasabi. Sometimes these condiments can inflame the nasal lining and intestines when overeaten.
Wasabi replacements may not be too concerning, but the added food coloring is a cause for alarm. Many researchers have proved that artificial dyes in food contain allergenic components and even toxic chemicals that cause cancer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is brown rice a better option for sushi?
Yes, brown rice is a relatively better option than traditional sushi rice, as it has more fiber and lower calories.
What can I use as a complete substitute for rice in sushi?
Grated cauliflower, couscous, and quinoa are good alternatives if you want to skip the rice in sushi altogether.
Is spicy sushi bad for you?
Spicy sushi, such as salmon rolls, is not generally unhealthy as the fish is rich in nutrients. But if you have a sensitive stomach, you may feel discomfort in your gut afterward.
Is it safe to eat sushi left out for over three days?
If your sushi was not refrigerated for over two days, there is a high chance it is teeming with bacteria. So. consuming it this way is not safe at all.
Sushi is a colorful, unique, albeit adventurous tray of food that makes you want to learn how to use chopsticks. The grandeur of this dish draws you towards wanting to try all the different kinds out there.
But as pretty as the presentation appears, there is more than just meets the eye to this coveted food. The diverse compositions make you wonder – is sushi healthy? This depends on what type of sushi you are consuming and how often.
It is arguably a balanced meal with healthy constituents, as long as you make careful decisions on the ingredients and the amount you eat.