The Sushi Breakdown

Sushi is everywhere, from food courts to petrol stations, this cheap and practical roll is a popular lunch option.

A survey  published in the New York Times, asked a sample of nutritionists “is sushi healthy"? and 75% of nutritionists said yes, but 49% of the public said no. Clearly there is some confusion around sushi and so we explore why sushi can be a healthy option - if you choose wisely.

 Here's all you need to know on sushi:

The Inside Scoop:

Fresh fish, particularly salmon and tuna are great options in your sushi as they contain plenty of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. The World Health Organisation recommends eating 1 to 2 portions of oily fish a week so sushi can be a delicious way to reach these targets. Fish is also linked to a lower risk of certain autoimmune diseases, depression, and loss of memory and vision in old age.

Cucumbers offer a variety of nutrients such as vitamin C, magnesium and vitamin B1. Whilst avocado is rich in vitamin B6, vitamin E and folate.

The wonder of Wasabi:

Wasabi is often used as a condiment to sushi but only in relatively small amounts as it is very strong. It is made from the grated stem of Eutrema japonicum, which belongs to the same family as cabbage, horseradish and mustard. It is rich in beta-carotene, glucosinolate’s and isothiocyanates whyc have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties.

More Nori Please:

Nori is a type of seaweed that provides a host of nutrients and is high in vitamin A and C. Seaweed is also high in fibre and protein as well as a good source of minerals including iodine, iron, zinc and vitamin B12.

However as only a small amount of seaweed is in one roll of sushi, it would be highly unlikely to contribute to your daily nutritional requirements. For more, try a seaweed wrapped roll as an alternative to the usual rice roll or add a seaweed salad as a side dish.

Plenty of pickled ginger:

Pickled ginger is a good source of minerals, studies have shown it helps reduce nausea, muscle pain, arthritic pain and may improve memory.

All these lovely healthy nutritionally rich ingredients all from sushi! But watch out for the carbs and the low fibre content:

The Rice Stuff:

When choosing your sushi roll keep in mind that a regular sushi hand-roll can have around 20g carbohydrates from rice, which is the same as a slice of bread. 

A high level of refined carbs in your diet can lead to a spike in blood sugar and insulin levels which may lead to over eating.

Seriously salty:

Be aware of the salt content in your sushi meal. Firstly, the rice may have already been cooked in salt. Secondly, all the vegetables may contain salt and then, finally, adding soy sauce which is very high in salt.

1 tablespoon of traditionally fermented soy sauce contains 902mg of sodium this is equivalent to your daily recommended allowance.

How to maximise the health benefits available from sushi:

There are a few simple steps to allow you to optimise the health benefits of sushi:

  • When you’re choosing your sushi roll increase your nutrients by opting for brown rice instead of white rice.

  • For extra protein and fibre from your meal add a side order of edamame, miso soup or sashimi.

  • Add extra vegetables and avoid sauces or tempura.

  • Avoid any deep fried options as much as they look tempting, it only means more calories, more salt and more fat.