How Fattening Is Sushi?
We should remember that sushi is only one part of Japan's much more extensive culinary culture and heritage. However, it is also unparalleled in its influence and passion it inspires in the devotees of nigiri and the many wonderful sushi dishes we can find. Part of the appeal is the freshness of the ingredients. While some dishes will be heavier than others, fresh fish, white rice and raw vegetables are often the main components of sushi dishes. This makes us feel like it is a healthy food, but it doesn't reveal the entire picture.
At oneHOWTO, we ask how fattening is sushi? If you want to know how healthy sushi is for you and how you can eat it as part of a balanced diet, keep reading.
Is sushi fattening?
Many people consider sushi as a much healthier dish than pizza, hamburgers or any type of meal we consider fast food. It is true that its ingredients and preparation are much more natural and unprocessed than other dishes. However, we need to be careful when consuming it if we do not want to gain weight.
Sushi is beneficial as it contains a moderate proportion of carbohydrates and a healthy supply of protein and fat. These are mainly derived from raw fish, although it can be made from other ingredients, including meat. The rice of a sushi dice is often wrapped in nori, a type of seaweed which is rich in vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids.
However, the dishes we consider to be sushi are not monolithic. They are incredibly varied. They can use all types of fish, meat, vegetables, seaweed, tofu and much more. Even where the sushi is made can affect its quality since much of the sushi in the ‘Western world’ is not the same as can be found in traditional Japanese cooking. How fattening the sushi will be depends on its ingredients and how much of it you eat.
In a lot of Westernized sushi dishes they can use ingredients which will add to the fat content. Some of these may be because they use fried meats rather than fish, as well as mayonnaise and other dressings. However, even in Japanese sushi, there are many dishes which also use mayonnaise and other toppings. The rice itself is cooked in salt and sugar, while there are high amounts of sodium in wasabi, soy sauce and other sushi ingredients.
Generally speaking, if you were to eat between 4 and 6 portions of sushi which uses white fish, few sauces and raw vegetables, you will be eating a fairly healthy meal. Certainly when we compare this with a hamburger or similar fast food, there is generally speaking much better nutrition. However, if you eat 10 to 12 pieces of sushi which contain fatty fish, fired onions, mayonnaise or other high-fat ingredients, then it cannot be considered a well-balanced meal. On the contrary, it will be quite fattening and should only be reserved for special occasions.
How many calories does sushi have?
Sushi literally means ‘rice and vinegar’, but within this food type there are numerous types of sushi, each with a different caloric value. The most famous common types of sushi are maki, uramaki, nigiri, sashimi and temaki. Although sashimi isn't technically a type of sushi, it is very commonly sold in sushi restaurants and may be used on certain sushi dishes. In addition, each of them can be prepared with different types of fish and other ingredients.
To get a general idea, we will take as an example one of the most consumed sushi: a salmon uramaki with avocado. A portion of this type can have up to 60 calories. If we were to eat 6 servings, we will be equaling the calories of a hamburger. However, tuna uramaki is only 35 calories and a tray of 6 cucumber makis is 140 calories. The trick, therefore, is knowing how to choose the type of sushi that we are going to eat and taking care of the quantity.
What is the least fattening sushi?
As we said, the sushi itself is not fattening, but the quantity and the ingredients that we put on can make it so. If you are looking to be satiated with sushi, but also count the calories, we can help. There are some types of sushi that have much fewer calories than classic salmon rolls.
The amount of rice and processed ingredients that increase the calories of a sushi dish. The essence of sushi, fish, is healthiest and most recommended part if you want to eat a balanced diet. Depending on your metabolism, health and physical activity or energy demand, we can provide ways to minimize calorific intake and make sushi a healthy option for mealtime.
- The least fattening type of sushi is nigiri and sashimi. Both types of sushi have raw fish as the main ingredient. They have little to no rice, do not have to come with other ingredients. They don't even use nori.
- Nigiri consists of a small bar of rice with vinegar on which a thin slice of raw fish is placed. It can be salmon, but also tuna, butterfish or eel. In general, this type of sushi only has 35 calories per serving, so you can eat 5-6 to leave you full and well-nourished. However, butterfish and salmon are the fattiest. Choose other types of blue fish or white fish if possible to reduce calorie intake.
- You can opt for sashimi. This is the simplest sushi option that only consists of strips of raw fish. You can marinate them with soy sauce and accompany them with a little wasabi, especially when you want to a palate cleanser between dishes. Sashimi is pure healthy protein and has an approximate contribution of 20 calories per serving, depending on the type of fish.
- You can accompany it to complement it with a little miso soup, edamame or wakame salad. These are three relatively healthy options that will make you eat in a tasty, healthy way, without having to worry about counting calories. Quite simply, avoid sushi options that are heavily loaded with extra ingredients, especially sauces and fried foods, and avoid eating too large amounts at one meal.
If you want to know more about sushi and health, take a look at our article on why to avoid sushi if you are pregnant.
Is sushi healthy?
We have determined whether or not sushi is fattening by showing how variable it can be. However, fat is not the only consideration we need to make when determining whether or not sushi is a healthy food. The innovations and variations of sushi mean many other ingredients are used. For example, deep fried or tempura maki is a common dish in many sushi restaurants. This contains carbohydrates and oil which aren't the healthiest.
Although the fish os often served raw, it may be cured with salt to a certain degree. There is also salt and sugar in the sushi rice itself. Sushi is accompanied by sauces such as fish sauce, soy sauce and wasabi. Many of the ingredients will also used MSG. These contain high levels of sodium, something which can be bad for blood pressure.
For these reasons, it is fair to say that sushi can be healthy, but we have to be careful. Minimize the sodium by only using small splashes of soy sauce and wasabi, choose healthy ingredients and avoid deep fried versions. This way, you should be left with a more nutritious dish.
If you want to learn how to make some other Japanese dishes, take a look at our articles on how to make Japanese strawberry daifuku and how to make Japanese cheesecake (fuwa fuwa).
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