Just Because It’s Sushi Doesn’t Mean It’s Healthy

Sushi is that incredibly delicious and wallet-flexing meal that many of us just couldn’t live without. Bring on the Mercury poison but don’t take away our caterpillar roll. However as incredibly tasty as this favorite may be, it’s not as healthy as you might think.

Be Picky With the Fish

sushi fish

An obvious rule for eating sushi all together; make sure the fish is fresh. It goes without saying that eating sushi that isn’t fresh can get you very sick. Eating sushi that isn’t fresh is also bad for your waistline. If the restaurant you’re eating in uses fish that’s overly processed (so it can last longer in the freezer) or is entirely fake (like imitation crab), those additives make it very difficult to shed pounds.

In addition to the freshness of your fish, pay attention to the type of your fish. Great choices when eating sushi are: salmon, tuna, and yellowtail. These usually come in a roll, fresh and not fried.

The salmon will sometimes come in a roll that offers a baked sauce on it, but we’ll get to that later. Crab is also a great option, but you have to be careful with this one due to the fact that lots of sushi restaurants will toss their crab in mayonnaise for added flavor. If you can get shrimp in a raw form, great, however stay AWAY from the fried tempura version. Also stay away from eel. While the fat content of eel won’t make you gain ten pounds, the sugary teriyaki sauce it’s coated in will get you every time.

Eat like the Japanese Do

Try to enjoy sushi the way it was made to be enjoyed: fresh and raw. This means staying away from deep fried rolls and baked rolls. In fact, just stay away from deep fried rolls for the course of your meal. The rolls will still taste good without the added crunch. Also, the baked rolls are not your best bet because baking usually involves the chef topping off your roll with a ton of rich mayonnaise based sauce before baking.

Go Brown

A lot of sushi restaurants are now offering a “brown rice alternative” in place of the starchier white rice in your roll. This is a much healthier choice and the brown rice offers a great complimentary taste to the sushi. Or if you want take it one step further and remove the rice all together by ordering some sashimi.

Wrap it in Soy Paper

sushi on a plate

Whenever possible opt to replace the seaweed (Nori) with soy paper. They are totally vegan, gluten and they are lactose free. Also this choice is great for anyone who struggles with the taste or texture of Nori.

Keep it to One

It happens all the time. Both sushi rolls looked great so you ordered both. Somehow by the second piece of your second roll you feel incredibly full, but you don’t want to waste the food or money so you push through and eat the entire roll anyway. Okay, as tempting as that second roll is, you don’t need it. Odds are, by the time it get’s to the table you won’t want it either. Keep it light and stick to one roll. While the portions may look small (in reference to a 6-8 piece roll) it really is enough, due to the fact that all that rice expands in your stomach. This makes you very full, very fast. If you absolutely feel like you need to have more, try starting with a light sashimi salad or a hand roll.

Don’t Get too Saucy

sushi with sauce

When it comes to eating sushi, the less sauce the better. Every roll these days seems to come with some pink, orange, or green, creamy mayo-based sauce. As great as they taste, those sauces pack a lot of hidden calories. Also, those sweet honey teriyaki sauces are not to be trusted. Though they carry all the creaminess of the other sauces, they are loaded with sugar and are just as bad. Honestly once you begin to experience the great taste of sushi on it’s own you won’t feel like it needs all that fatty sauce. Ask for a wedge of lemon to go over your sushi to really bring out the fish’s flavor.

If you absolutely must enjoy dipping your sauce into something, try topping it with a little Sriracha hot sauce (the one with the rooster on it) for a low calorie spicy taste. If using soy sauce, always reach for the one with the green lid not the red (easy to remember; green means go, red means stop). The green lid is the lower sodium option, and the taste difference is virtually unnoticeable.

Take Advantage of the Side of the Plate

Try to really use your wasabi and ginger. The ginger is a wonderful digestive, and the wasabi will keep you from drowning your sushi in soy sauce. Remember when it comes to the ginger, if its pink it’s from a can and is probably processed, if it’s brown it’s fresh and was possibly even pickled there in the restaurant.

Take the time to think before you chew and this crowd pleaser won’t make you gain a single pound. In fact, with the steps above, sushi can become a healthy staple in your diet and aid your quest to a stronger, slimmer you.

About the author


Jacqueline is a modern day gypsy, moving from France to England and now residing in Mexico. A sucker for instant gratification and anything that pleases the senses her world revolves around food (any and all food), foreign indie films, and salsa music.

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