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
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 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
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.
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.
Ella Davar, nutritionist
Sushi 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.
Marisa Moore, MD, Nutritionist
Although 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.
Lyudmila Mikityuk, nutritionist
Sushi 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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