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Question: Is Sushi Healthy for Weight Loss? Here’s What to Avoid

By Rob Poulos...

With a total obesity rate of 3.2%–30% less than in the United States–it’s safe to say the Japanese know how to stay fit.  Now recommendations across the country say eating “Japanese” may be the best way to slim down, but is Japanese cuisine really that great?  Today we’ll explore Japanese’s most popular dish, sushi, and if it’s actually a good idea for weight loss.

What is Sushi?

Most of us are familiar with sushi–but what exactly is it?  Well here’s the real scoop: Sushi is nothing more than cooked rice, called shari, combined with other edible ingredients, called neta.  This almost always include raw fish, although other accompaniments, such as avocado and cucumber, are common as well.  There are about as many types of sushi as there are fish; popular types include futomaki (rice and accompaniments wrapped in a nori sheet) and narezushi (a mound of rice topped with wasabi and accompaniments).

While most types of sushi are about as healthy as you can get–raw fish, vegetables, and seaweed are nutritional powerhouses–recent influence from the West has made some types of sushi less than healthy.  For instance, Japan’s popular shrimp tempura sushi is nothing more than fried shrimp and rice combined together.  There’s also sushi drizzled with mayonaise or cheese–hardly healthy choices!

Is Sushi Healthy for Weight Loss?

Although most types of sushi are good for dieters, not all types of sushi are created equal.  To keep the calorie count low, beware of specialty rolls, such as the caterpillar or dynamite roll.  Many specialty rolls contain an assortment of toppings that aren’t exactly figure-friendly, such as mayonnaise and tempura.  They also contain more toppings in general, which can bump up the calorie count–and make it harder to stay within your calorie goals.

For a healthy option to end your day, follow this mantra: The simpler, the better. Plain rolls with only a few toppings are best; look for rolls that use raw fish as the main accompaniment.  As a general rule, nigirizushi is your healthiest bet, which mainly includes wasabi and a type of raw fish, such as salmon or eel.  These cuts are usually the leanest, and they won’t be clogged down with condiments like with specialty rolls.

How to Make Sushi Healthy

If you want to make sushi fit your diet plan, generally most types of sushi are okay–but it is easy to order to wrong type.  To keep the calorie count low, use these suggestions:

 Look for sushi that contains a lot of vegetables.  Vegetables contain fiber, which will make you fuller faster.  They’re also more likely to contain fewer calories, such as the California roll.

 Avoid inside-out rolls.  These rolls are usually rolled in sesame seeds prior to serving, which can easily add on hundreds of needless calories.  Stick with sushi without the inside-out wrapping to save calories.

 To save even more calories, consider ordering sashimi instead.  Sashimi simply means serving sushi without the rice; you’ll snack on raw fish instead.  It may sound intimating, but it’s still very flavorful–and you’ll eat fewer calories in the process.

Done right, sushi can be a healthy way to eat out–just don’t go overboard!

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1 Comment Add yours

  1. annamorphos

    As someone who works in a sushi restaurant, I can tell you that the sushi itself (the fish) is healthy. The fish is rich with nutrients that will help the body function properly. However, the part of sushi that is NOT healthy is the rolls. Sushi rolls containing obscene amounts of mayo, tempura, and other ingredients are breeding grounds for cholesterol and calories. Nigiri and sashimi are a great way to go, but try to stay away from the rolls that have anything extra.

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