Sushi’s healthy, right? It’s good for your nutrition? Wrong! Yes, the fresh fish used is good for you: the tuna and salmon usually used are packed with omegas. However, as a general rule, sushi isn’t a good choice if you’re trying to follow a healthy diet – one that’s focused on low-GI carbohydrates, healthy lean proteins and fats. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Hidden sugar
It doesn’t seem like the usual suspect but sushi rice is laden with sugar, which is a big no-no if you want to improve your nutrition. That’s because it’s soaked in a rice vinegar and sugar solution. What’s more, some of the mayo used carries a lot of sugar too.
2. Carbohydrate overload
The rice used to make sushi is a short-grain white rice. We’re not saying rice is bad for you (it’s a great option if you’re gluten intolerant, for example) but this white rice is the least healthy of the rice types. It has a higher glycaemic index, meaning that it’ll spike your blood sugar and leave you ravenous much more quickly. Since the majority of your average piece of sushi rice (75% in most cases!), you’re getting a lot of carbohydrates with every bite (and relatively low levels of protein and healthy fats). You won’t feel satiated for long.
3. Sodium danger
Both the sushi rice and the soy sauce are very salty. This won’t help bring down your blood pressure…
Make your dinner a little healthier with these tricks:
- Change up the rice: Not all sushi restaurants give you the option to swap the white rice for brown rice but if yours does, take advantage. The higher fibre content of brown rice makes it healthier.
- Shrink your rice helping: Ask the chef to roll your sushi with half the amount of rice (or take the rice off yourself).
- Develop a taste for sashimi: This is the piece of fish without the rice. Sure, it’s not as much fun for your tastebuds but but it’s the healthiest sushi you can order.
- Avoid the crab: The fresh salmon and tuna are great protein sources (and high in good fats). So try to eat those types of sushi that incorporate large pieces of fish. Remember that the crab sticks are processed – it’s not good for you!
- Stay away from the tempura: This deep-fried batter is a calorie bomb.
- Eat (a little) wasabi: Did you know it’s high in antioxidants similar to those found in cruciferous veggies like broccoli?
- Vegetarian sushi offers a health boost: The fresh vegetables in the vegetarian options will add a little health to your sushi meal.
- Practise portion control: Experts in nutrition say that the average handroll has about a cup of white rice in it. That’s 200 calories in rice alone – and you gobble it up in seconds. So eat sushi the way it was intended – in a moderated portion of about six pieces. If you’re still hungry afterwards, order some steamed veg to fill up.
If good nutrition is your primary pursuit, and you want to help others get the same benefits from it, check out the Specialised Nutrition Certification from Trifocus Fitness Academy. Find out more here.