When choos­ing between piz­za and sushi, it is sushi that is con­sid­ered a health­i­er dish. But from the point of view of nutri­tion — every­thing is not so sim­ple! Some sushi is indeed healthy food, while oth­ers are not.

But one thing unites both options: you can’t eat sushi often, oth­er­wise it’s close to trou­ble!

How did sushi come about?

Sushi is a tra­di­tion­al Japan­ese dish based on a spe­cial kind of rice. It is light­ly sea­soned with vine­gar and served with seafood or veg­eta­bles. Sushi top­pings can be very diverse: raw sea fish (most often salmon or tuna), cooked shell­fish, veg­eta­bles, chick­en, tofu cheese and much more.

Although sushi is con­sid­ered a Japan­ese dish, it actu­al­ly orig­i­nat­ed in South­east Asia. It was there, at the foot of the Mekong Riv­er, that peo­ple were the first to cook food that resem­bles mod­ern sushi. The goal was to pre­serve fish as a healthy food prod­uct.

Peo­ple cut fresh fish into small pieces, com­bined it with boiled rice, salt­ed it and put it under oppres­sion. With­in a month, the dish was being pre­pared — fer­men­ta­tion process­es were launched, thanks to which the fish acquired “super prop­er­ties” — it was suit­able for con­sump­tion for anoth­er whole year. But rice was thrown away or used to pre­pare a new batch of fish.

It was this method of cook­ing fish that the Japan­ese took note of, and then improved it. So, in the 1800s, sushi appeared in Japan — sim­i­lar to what we eat today.

What is the calorie content of sushi

What is the calorie content of sushi

On aver­age, one serv­ing of sushi with tuna (6 pieces) con­tains 255 kilo­calo­ries. You can also get 12.6 g of pro­tein, 3.8 g of fat and 45.5 g of car­bo­hy­drates from it. Oth­er vari­eties of sushi have a dif­fer­ent nutri­tion­al pro­file. At the same time, veg­etable sushi is con­sid­ered the most dietary option, and tem­pu­ra prod­ucts with var­i­ous sauces and may­on­naise are con­sid­ered the most high-calo­rie.

What sushi ingredients are good for?

Try to “col­lect” as many healthy foods as pos­si­ble in one dish.

oily fish

Oily sea fish is rich in healthy omega‑3–6‑9 fat­ty acids and is a valu­able source of pro­tein. It also con­tains phos­pho­rus and oth­er use­ful sub­stances that improve the func­tion­ing of the car­dio­vas­cu­lar, ner­vous and diges­tive sys­tems.

Accord­ing to experts amer­i­can Heart Asso­ci­a­tion, Omega‑3 fat­ty acids in fish may reduce the risk of stroke and pre­vent heart and vas­cu­lar dis­ease.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives World Health Orga­ni­za­tion (WHO) are advised to eat 1–2 serv­ings of oily fish per week.


Usu­al­ly sushi includes cucum­bers, avo­ca­dos and egg­plants. Egg­plants con­tain fiber, B vit­a­mins and potas­si­um, while avo­ca­dos pro­vide healthy monoun­sat­u­rat­ed fats and vit­a­min E; cucum­bers, although they are infe­ri­or to many veg­eta­bles in the con­tent of vit­a­mins, since they are almost entire­ly com­posed of water, they can still enrich the body with vit­a­min C and potas­si­um. In addi­tion, they con­tain an enzyme sim­i­lar to insulin, which makes them use­ful for dia­bet­ics.

Anoth­er pop­u­lar veg­etable in sushi is gin­ger. It is used in pick­led form, because of which it acquires a sweet­ish taste. This root crop is a store­house of mag­ne­sium, cop­per, man­ganese and potas­si­um.


They are a clas­sic ingre­di­ent in sushi. They are famous for their high con­tent of fiber and pro­tein, con­tain iron, zinc, mag­ne­sium, vit­a­mins A, C, E and B12 and iodine.

But despite such an impres­sive pro­file, sea­weed can­not make up for the body’s defi­cien­cies in these sub­stances, since there is a small amount of nori in one serv­ing of sushi. This is evi­denced by a study pub­lished in Jour­nal of Applied Phys­i­ol­o­gy.



Wasabi paste is con­sid­ered the health­i­est ingre­di­ent in sushi. So because the prod­uct is a pow­er­ful anti­sep­tic, which allows it to block the devel­op­ment of harm­ful microflo­ra. Wasabi con­tains beta-carotene and antiox­i­dants.

Based on data from a 2004 study pub­lished in Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal of Food Micro­bi­ol­o­gy, sci­en­tists accuse wasabi of antibac­te­r­i­al, anti-inflam­ma­to­ry and anti­tu­mor activ­i­ty.

But it is worth not­ing that some unscrupu­lous sushi pro­duc­ers replace wasabi with a mix­ture of horse­rad­ish and mus­tard pow­der, tint­ing this mass with green dye. “Sub­sti­tu­tion” does not have such use­ful prop­er­ties for the body.


The clas­sic sushi recipe involves the use of short-grain, or as it is also called, round-grain rice. The length and width of the grains of such rice are almost the same. When boiled, the grains active­ly absorb mois­ture, stick togeth­er and are able to boil almost to the state of a cream. There­fore, this type of grain is also called sticky or sticky.

On the ter­ri­to­ry of Rus­sia, refined white or brown rice can be used. Brown is con­sid­ered health­i­er as it is high in fiber and retains nutri­ents that are lost when rice is refined.

Did you know?

The Chi­nese char­ac­ter for sushi means “pick­led fish”. Fresh fish began to be used in the cre­ation of sushi only in the 19th cen­tu­ry on the ter­ri­to­ry of the Land of the Ris­ing Sun.

Which sushi ingredients are dangerous?

Some vari­eties of sushi and their accom­pa­ny­ing dish­es are deep-fried, con­tain may­on­naise and fat­ty sauces, and are over­sat­u­rat­ed with vine­gar, sug­ar and salt.

With rare use, this is not dan­ger­ous to health, but if it becomes a habit, it can be harm­ful.

Separate types of fish

Separate types of fish

For the prepa­ra­tion of sushi, fish of large breeds is usu­al­ly used, which is capa­ble of accu­mu­lat­ing mer­cury, which means poi­son­ing the body.

A study pub­lished in Inter­na­tion­al Jour­nal of hygiene and Envi­ron­men­tal Health, showed that the lev­el of mer­cury in the body increas­es with the week­ly con­sump­tion of sushi and cer­tain types of fish (tuna, mack­er­el, sword­fish, shark, mar­lin). The sit­u­a­tion is so seri­ous that experts do not advise preg­nant and lac­tat­ing women, the elder­ly and chil­dren in gen­er­al to order sushi with tuna.

Anoth­er dan­ger that can come from fish is the pres­ence of par­a­sites in it. There­fore, many experts do not rec­om­mend eat­ing sushi with raw fish.

Soy sauce

Whether soy sauce is good or bad is the sub­ject of much debate. On the one hand, this is the secret of Japan­ese longevi­ty, as it is believed that the sauce pro­tects blood ves­sels from ath­er­o­scle­ro­sis and improves blood cir­cu­la­tion, and also has a pos­i­tive effect on the func­tion­ing of the ner­vous sys­tem. But all this is true only for high-qual­i­ty sauce. And this is not used at all points of sushi pro­duc­tion.

In any case, do not for­get that soy sauce is a salty prod­uct. 2–3 tea­spoons con­tains about 1 g of salt, which is a lot. The allow­able salt intake for an adult is 6 g per day.

On a note!

Japan­ese sushi mas­ters are taught to rec­og­nize sub­stan­dard prod­ucts by col­or, smell and tex­ture. For them, poi­son­ing a client is a great shame.

How to choose and order healthy sushi

If you respon­si­bly approach the choice of dish­es, you can get a hearty lunch with­out harm to the fig­ure.

The first rule of eat­ing sushi is to keep a sense of pro­por­tion. That is what the Japan­ese fol­low. In 2009 Amer­i­can actor Jere­my Piv­en was hos­pi­tal­ized after eat­ing sushi twice a day for many years. Doc­tors diag­nosed him with mer­cury poi­son­ing. After treat­ment, the actor gen­er­al­ly refused fish and seafood.

The sec­ond rule is to focus on healthy foods in sushi. Avoid deep-fried foods that con­tain may­on­naise.

The third rule of eat­ing sushi is to give pref­er­ence to prod­ucts with fish that have under­gone heat treat­ment. Fresh fish in sushi is cer­tain­ly a clas­sic, but in terms of health and well­ness, this is a huge risk.

Expert com­ment

Ella Davar, nutri­tion­ist

Ella Davar, nutritionistSushi can be part of a healthy diet. The main con­trib­u­tor to the health of the Japan­ese is the intesti­nal micro­bio­ta, which is part of the fer­ment­ed veg­eta­bles and foods such as bok choy, sea­weed, mush­rooms, kim­chi, tofu. The dietary fiber in sushi cre­ates a good breed­ing ground for ben­e­fi­cial bac­te­ria and helps cleanse the intestines of harm­ful sub­stances pro­duced by unhealthy bac­te­ria.

Stud­ies have also shown that wasabi sauce served with sushi has high health ben­e­fits and helps boost the immune sys­tem.

Salmon and mack­er­el in sushi are excel­lent sources of pro­tein and omega fat­ty acids, which can reduce the risk of coro­nary heart dis­ease, boost brain health, and improve mem­o­ry. And sea­weed is rich in iodine and helps sup­port nat­ur­al detox­i­fi­ca­tion process­es in the liv­er.

Expert com­ment

Marisa Moore, MD, Nutri­tion­ist

Marisa Moore, MD, NutritionistAlthough sushi has many healthy ingre­di­ents, their prepa­ra­tion and sea­son­ing can ruin every­thing. So, rolls cooked in tem­pu­ra and poured with cream sauce are dif­fer­ent from those that con­sist of fish, rice and veg­eta­bles and are sim­ply wrapped in nori.

If you like sushi, try to order sets with fish that are low in mer­cury (mack­er­el, salmon). Avoid high sodi­um soy sauce and opt for oth­er healthy ingre­di­ents like wasabi, pick­led gin­ger.

To reduce the risk of food­borne ill­ness from eat­ing raw and under­cooked fish, always buy sushi from a rep­utable estab­lish­ment or cook your own with care­ful ingre­di­ents and prop­er pro­cess­ing.

Expert com­ment

Lyud­mi­la Mik­i­tyuk, nutri­tion­ist

Lyudmila Mikityuk, nutritionistSushi is a very con­tro­ver­sial prod­uct. They can be use­ful and become a source of many com­po­nents that will have a ben­e­fi­cial effect on the human body, as they are rich in vit­a­mins, trace ele­ments, Omega 3 fat­ty acids, iodine and oth­er essen­tial sub­stances.

But you need to under­stand that this prod­uct is orig­i­nal­ly pre­pared from raw fish. On the one hand, this is use­ful, but on the oth­er hand, raw fish can con­tain par­a­site eggs, lar­vae and even tape­worms, which eas­i­ly enter the body, and then become a source of helminthi­a­sis.

There­fore, either choose the man­u­fac­tur­er care­ful­ly, or choose heat-treat­ed ver­sions of this exot­ic.

Sushi can help you lose weight, but only if you can choose the right sushi and don’t over­do it. Since, in addi­tion to healthy ingre­di­ents — fresh fish and seafood, sea­weed, caviar, they con­tain a lot of white rice, which has a high glycemic index, due to which it increas­es blood sug­ar lev­els.

Also, soy sauce, with­out which the use of the dish is not com­plete, is made with a large amount of salt. Excess salt is harm­ful to health, espe­cial­ly for hyper­ten­sive patients.

It is rec­om­mend­ed to eat sushi with hot broth — miso soup. It will bring addi­tion­al use­ful com­po­nents to the body and pro­long the feel­ing of full­ness from the meal.

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