I have a rather apparent weakness for fine Japanese and Chinese cuisine and at the top of that list is the delicately-prepared sushi roll. Sushi restaurants are typically located in large cities and are considered a fine-dining experience due to the high price paid for such a modest portion.
But since the ingredients of full-flavored sushi appear so simple consisting of cold-cooked rice flavored with vinegar and an assortment of vegetables and/or raw fish, the question arises, “Is sushi healthy?”
Here I talk about the average sushi nutrition facts, how it’s prepared from one establishment to the next, and a few common health risks associated with this Asian delight.
It Tastes So Good, You Have To Wonder “Is Sushi Fattening?”
We’ve all been trained to think that if something tastes too sweet, too salty, or just too “good” in general, then it’s probably doing you more harm than good. Well, let’s take a look at some common stats like the calories in sushi and how they stack up.
The popular California roll has around 250 calories with under 10g of fat, 38g of carbs, and 9g of protein. The Shrimp tempura roll which contains a batter and fried oil contains over 500 calories, 24g of fat, 64g of carbs, and 20g of protein. You can tell right away, that preparation is a big influence on the overall calorie and fat count. But the there’s still a good amount of protein in order to keep your muscles properly maintained.
One of the main concerns with sushi is that it has too many carbohydrates. Well, there’s actually an alternative called sashimi which is simply sushi without the rice and contains less calories as well as carbs. I’m not a big fan of sashimi as how it brings me face to face with the reality that I’m eating raw fish. (There’s gotta be something else there for me to enjoy it.)
Sushi, however, contains some essential omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that your body needs every day. Omega-3 helps create hormones that regulate cell growth and your immune system as well as common bodily functions. While in essence, omega-6 does the exact opposite, making it vital for them to be in balance at all times.
Sushi Nutrition Facts Differ From One Restaurant To The Next
While the general answer to “Is sushi healthy?” might be “yes”, we often forget that all Japanese restaurants prepare sushi a little differently. Some places put more of an emphasis on taste with more mayonaise, sugar, and fried ingredients and that’s where the calories and fat come from. You can find this sort of preparation on rolls with the word “Tempura” attached to it (meaning fried).
Sushi dips are typically soy sauce and wasabi which really aren’t anything to worry about, but Japanese shrimp sauce is the real catalyst. A couple tablespoons can provide as much as 200 calories!
And for anyone that’s been looking for this stuff to purchase (like me searching for the Holy Grail), here’s a link for a Japanese steak house’s signature sauce, Makoto’s Famous Shrimp Sauce. I was extremely bummed to walk into my grocery store and come out empty-handed after completely scouring the ethnic food section.
Obviously, There Are Risks With Eating Raw Fish
California roll is the most popular in America, but it’s very unauthentic with the use of imitation crab instead of actual raw fish. Personally I like this because of some of the risks that come with eating raw fish.
For instance, eating contaminated raw fish in sushi can lead to health hazards such as round worm, tape worm, and flat worm. And It’s only when sushi has been frozen at 4 degrees F (-16C) for 3 days that these parasites’ larvae and eggs are fully exterminated.
Aside from that, pregnant women shouldn’t eat raw fish unless they’ve spoken with their health specialist first.
Is Sushi Healthy? Is Sushi Good For You?
Generally, yes, sushi is pretty good for you. If it isn’t fried and loaded up with any sort of creamy sauce then the calories, carbs, and fat content is all pretty low.
When you think about it, it’s usually just rice, seafood, and some vegetables. That all sounds pretty healthy to me. Of course, if you’re watching your calories or on a diet like Eat Stop Eat, then there’s no shame in getting a fried tempura roll as a reward every once in awhile.
It’s only after you become a frequent Hibachi restaurant goer that you might feel your pants tightening up. Sumo wrestling anyone?P.S. If you're interested in the diet that I use when I want to get particularly lean, it's Eat Stop Eat. It's very progressive, and probably not like anything you've tried before.