Nutritional Benefits of Sushi
Sushi is a balanced diet. It is composed of lean protein, carbohydrates, negligible in saturated fat, and loaded with unsaturated fat. The main ingredients of traditional Japanese sushi, raw fish and rice, are naturally low in fat, high in protein, carbohydrates,vitamins and minerals. While the rice in sushi contains a fair amount of carbohydrates, sushi can be eaten without rice (as sashimi) and in moderation, even a standard sushi item can be a healthy snack without breaking the calorie bank.
Most seafood is naturally low in fat, with fats found in seafood predominately being unsaturated and thus containing relatively high levels of Omega-3. Since sushi is often served raw, no cooking fat is introduced during its preparation. Some non-traditional ingredients such as cream cheese and mayonnaise that are sometimes found in Western-style sushi dishes can add significant amounts of fat to a traditionally lean dish. So you have to remember that if you prefer the Western-style sushi that you can find in most sushi restaurants across the country.
Fish, tofu, seafood, egg, and many other sushi fillings, contain high levels of protein. Another fact to remember is that imitation meat such as “krab” will usually be lower in protein and other nutrition than their natural, unprocessed counterparts.
For a person in normal health, sushi has many health benefits. All dishes (excluding eel) are low in saturated fat and high in protein. There will be a slightly higher amount of carbohydrates in thick sushi rolls, but it is negligible for nigiri sushi since they are small in amount.
Vitamins and minerals are found in much of the seafood and vegetables used for sushi. The nutritional content is dependent on the ingredients used. For example, shrimp is high in calcium and iodine, whereas salmon is rich in Vitamin D. The gari (sliced pickled ginger) and nori (edible seaweed) used to make sushi are rich in both nutrients. Nori is about a third protein and a third dietary fiber (which is important since most ingredients in sushi have very little fiber). It also contains high proportions of vitamins A, B and C, as well as significant amounts of calcium and iron. Other vegetables wrapped within the sushi such as carrots, cucumbers, beets and asparagus, also offer various vitamins and minerals.
High content of fish oil is the main health factor which promotes a healthy cardiovascular system. The hikarimono, or shiny fishes, like mackerel, sardine, and Pacific Saury, contain the highest amounts of EPA and DHA omega3 fats. Ironically they are the least expensive fishes as well. These fishes are also high in Vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant.
Not only is sushi incredibly delicious, and for those of you that are afraid to try it, I think you’d be pleasantly surprised, but it’s also one of the most healthy meals you can eat.