Sushi, one of Japan’s most famous gastronomic delights, and everyone’s favourite. Before you consume them, get to know the good, the bad and the ugly. They aren’t all made equal.
Medically Reviewed by Dr. K on 9th Dec 2021.
The Best And Worst Sushi For Your Health
This Japanese staple of vinegared rice, which comes in various shapes and flavours in its broadest sense, and often incorporates raw fish. If you play your cards well, you can have some very nutritious meals.
Rice is the star of the show. Brown is healthier than white in terms of nutrition (higher in fibre). Sushi, on the other hand, is all about the other components. Sashimi is sliced raw fish, such as eel, octopus, tuna, salmon, swordfish, etc. It’s technically sashimi if the fish is served alone. Sushi is made by combining it with vinegared rice.
Salmon is abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and may be served on top of hand-pressed rice (nigiri sushi), on a roll (maki sushi), or in a variety of different ways. However, you must be careful with the sauces and other items. They can increase fat and calorie intake.
Tuna is another fantastic source of omega-3s, and it’s a favourite sushi ingredient, whether it’s within a roll or on top. With tuna, you must be cautious — bigeye tuna, for example, maybe rich in mercury — but a weekly serving is safe for pregnant women and small children. Tuna rolls with a kick? Take care. Keep in mind that add-ons like sauces might increase fat and calorie intake.
Avocado is seen in many famous sushi rolls, frequently with fish and veggies but often on its own with the rice (and nori, sushi’s seaweed wrapping). Avocado is abundant in heart-healthy fats and fibre and a variety of other vitamins and minerals. This may improve the function of your kidneys, heart, and nerves.
Good: Vegetarian/Veggie Roll
Sushi doesn’t have to be fish-based. Veggie rolls (made with avocado, cucumber, carrot, mushroom, onion, asparagus, and tofu) are nutritious and widely accessible in supermarkets and sushi restaurants for those who avoid seafood. Pickled ginger is a frequent condiment served with sushi. Its purpose is to cleanse the palate in between bites.
Good: California Roll
The California roll is a sushi staple that combines rice, nori, avocado, cucumber, and “crab” (usually surimi, or imitation crab, made of pollock, egg whites, sugar, and other stuff). It’s also known as uramaki in Japan (with the rice on the outside and the nori and ingredients inside). If you avoid high-calorie, fatty, mayonnaise-like dips and sauces, a California roll is often safe.
Good: Rainbow Roll
This is the sushi equivalent of Mount Everest, including crab (typically imitation), salmon, shrimp, at least one kind of tuna, and perhaps other seafood. It’s usually a California roll with all the fish on top. It’s high in protein, and with all that fish and avocado, it’s fatty, but in a good way. Nonetheless, consume them in moderation.
Not Good: Philadelphia Roll
The Philly roll is one of those sushi creations that deceives you into believing it’s good for you. It’s not the case. Cream cheese is a crucial component, but it’s heavy in saturated fats and cholesterol and lacks nutrition. Even with the healthy ingredients in many Philly rolls, such as salmon or avocado, it’s usually better to forego it unless it’s prepared with low-fat cream cheese.
Not Good: Shrimp Tempura
Shrimp doesn’t have the same nutritional value as salmon (it’s lower in many vitamins and minerals and higher in salt), but it’s a good source of protein and delicious to many people. But stay clear from tempura. This is a technique for battering and deep-frying shrimp. (It may also be done with veggies.) It has the potential to increase calorie and fat intake.
Not Good: Swordfish
Swordfish (mekajiki in Japan) has a solid, meaty flesh that is considered a delicacy with sushi. Unfortunately, swordfish is on the FDA’s list of fish that young children and pregnant women should avoid, may become pregnant, or are nursing due to high mercury levels.
Not Good: Shark
Sharks suffer from the same mercury issue as swordfish. Also included are marlin and king mackerel. One dish will not have a significant impact on your health. Children and many women, however, should stay away.
Mackerel, also known as saba in Japan, is a heart-healthy fish packed in protein, omega-3s, and other minerals. It’s a fantastic sushi ingredient. However, although Atlantic mackerel is on the FDA’s list of best choices, king mackerel is on the FDA’s list of fish to avoid due to its possibly high mercury levels. You should be aware of what you’re receiving.
Not Good: Marlin
In Japan, nairagi is prized for its sashimi, sushi, and poke, a raw fish dish. Nonetheless, mercury levels are a source of concern. Marlin has been added to the FDA’s list of fish to avoid for pregnant and nursing women, as well as small children. Others can consume it, but only in small amounts to prevent poisoning.
Not Good: Dragon Roll
Sushi is plentiful, and with a bit of effort, you can create your nutritious masterpieces. Adding the dragon roll to the mix is probably not a good idea. Unagi, or eel, is abundant in protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, B12, and D. However, dragon rolls often come with a calorie-dense sauce. Unagi is also endangered. Just stay away from it.
- Merriam-Webster Dictionary.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.”
- National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements: “Omega-3 Fatty Acids,” “Potassium.”
- FDA: “Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know,” “Seafood Nutrition Facts.”
- United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: “USDA Branded Food Products Database.”
- University of New Hampshire: “Avocados are Packed with Nutrients for your Health.”
- MyFoodData, United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service: “Nutrition Facts Comparison Tool.”
- Hawaii Seafood Council: “Broadbill Swordfish (Mekajiki),” “Nairagi striped marlin (Tetrapturus audax).”
- FDA Compliance Policy Guide: “Processed and Blended Seafood Products.”
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch: “Eel Recommendations.”