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Is Sushi Healthy?

Sushi is like a gift-wrapped box. Anything can be inside of it. Sushi can be healthy, but it depends on the type of sushi and what is in it. Sushi restaurants can get really creative by adding ingredients with higher amounts of fat and calories. The health score of sushi might be difficult to compute.

The typical sushi ingredients are broken down below and their general health score assessed.

Sushi Rice

Sushi rice is a type of white rice that sticks together when cooked. Added to that are water and rice vinegar. One cup of sushi rice has around 230 calories, some protein, carbohydrates, and fat. White sushi rice is not healthy but the good news is that there is only about a quarter cup of rice in one sushi roll.


Sushi is wrapped in a blanket of edible seaweed called nori seaweed. Nori contains vitamin B12, and it is also a good source of iodine, which helps with thyroid health. Additionally, nori is rich in unsaturated fats like Omega 3.

Seaweed also contains minerals such as zinc, iron, copper, selenium, and manganese, contains amino acids and has anti-carcinogen properties. The complete benefits of nori seaweed are too much to list here, but seaweed appears to be healthy.


Types of Fish used in sushi

Sushi can be made with many types of fish, so to determine which one is healthy we’ll have to look at the popular varieties. Fresh fish is the basis for sushi, and without it, your sushi roll is not complete.

1. Imitation Crab Meat

Bowl of imitation crab meat on lettuce

California roll contains imitation crab meat and it is an Americanized adoption of a sushi roll. The good news about imitation crab meat is that it can be eaten by pregnant women because it is cooked fish.

But, imitation crab meat is made from pulverized fish flesh and contains other fillers to give it that crab meat flavor. The fillers include flavor and color, but the meat is also higher in sodium and phosphorus.

Imitation crab meat is nothing but a highly processed food item created to save money and it is not healthy.

2. Salmon

Raw salmon with skin

Salmon is a powerhouse fish commonly used in a sushi roll. Salmon is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which makes it an excellent addition to your diet. The amounts of mercury in salmon is also less than other fish choices, so this fish is healthy.

3. Tuna

Raw tuna

Tuna is also a good choice of fresh fish used in a sushi roll. Similarly to salmon, tuna provides many nutritional benefits such as protein and vitamin D. the addition of tuna to your roll is healthy.

4. Other Healthy Fish

eel sushi roll in a plate

Other types of fish that show up in sushi are king mackerel, kampachi, squid, yellowtail, eel, and others. Things to consider about your fish is its mercury content and its omega-3 content. The former being a no, the latter being a go.

5. Tempura Fish

Shrimp tempura in a bowl

Tempura is synonymous with the word fried. It is a type of batter commonly used by Asian restaurants. It is crunchy and tasty but certainly not healthy. If your fish is dipped in tempura batter and fried then you may want to reassess the health score of your sushi box.

Cream Cheese

Bowl of cream cheese with herbs

Cream cheese normally shows up in a Philadelphia roll. This type of cheese does contain micronutrients and is lower in calories than butter. However, cream cheese contains mostly saturated fat, a contributor to high cholesterol.

Philadelphia rolls might be ok to eat on occasion, but not so in the long term.


Avocadoes are known to be very nutritious and loaded with vitamin k, folate, vitamin B5, vitamin B6, vitamin E, potassium and small amounts of other minerals. It is low in unsaturated fat and is loaded with fatty acids that is good for the heart. The healthiness of avocado is rated as healthy.

Other Vegetables

This includes miscellaneous vegetables that can be added to your sushi such as celery. I am yet to find a vegetable that is basically void of nutrients. So, unless your vegetables are deep-fried I am going to deem this as being healthy. 

Soy Sauce

Let me get this out of the way and say that I have never heard anyone associate soy sauce with being nourishing. Yes, it does contain some trace minerals and vitamins like one or two percent of some minerals, but one tablespoon service of this sauce contains almost 900 milligrams of sodium. This is almost half of your daily sodium needs.

A high sodium content means the sauce is salty. It makes it taste good, but it is terrible for your heart and blood pressure. Sushi rice will soak up the soy sauce, so it is easy to consume a tablespoon or more soy sauce while eating sushi. Soy sauce is not healthy.

Make your own sushi

If you are adventurous you can consider making your own sushi. That way you know what ingredients you use and it is fun for you and your family. Before you do that, be prepared to research the best places to buy sushi fish since it needs to be properly handled.


While sushi in its most basic form is not a health food per se, it will be healthier than common foods such as pizza or fried foods. Habits such as soaking sushi in or swapping fish high in omega-3 for ones that are fried you will reduce the number of healthy ingredients.

Sushi can be a part of a healthy diet, but you might want to watch out for the high carbohydrate content of white rice. Some restaurants serve sushi with brown rice as a healthier alternative. Brown rice is also high in carbohydrates but it contains more fiber and other trace nutrients.

Eating a healthy diet is usually not all or nothing. The habit requires being constantly mindful of what you buy, especially when you buy pre-prepared foods.

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