Going out for sushi might seem like a healthier option among the restaurants from which to choose, but how does it really measure up? The types of sushi rolls you order can greatly affect the caloric value of the meal. Sushi can be a relatively low-calorie dinner if you choose your items wisely, and you can have a satisfying meal of sushi, salad and hot tea.
Sushi is a combination of cooked, flavored rice and vegetables, fish, seafood and sea vegetables. In contrast, sashimi refers to sliced, raw fish that is often dipped in soy sauce. Sushi is sometimes wrapped in nori, a kelp and seaweed-based wrapper that enfolds the rice and filling and is rolled tightly. These rolls are sliced and served sliced-side up. The Colorado State Extension Office SafeFood Rapid Response Network shows that sushi is not limited to raw fish, and cooked seafood, including shrimp and eel, are traditional ingredients in many sushi items.
The Sushi FAQ website shows the nutritional value of common sushi flavors. Restaurants that personalize their offerings may vary the ingredients and portions, so the nutritional content may be slightly different for each restaurant. Most often, the larger rolls are cut into eight slices. The popular California roll, made with cucumber, avocado and surimi, or imitation crabmeat, provides 255 calories per roll. The unagi, or eel, and avocado roll contains 372 calories.
The Sushi FAQ website shows that the California roll and the unagi and avocado roll provide 5.8 grams of fiber. In contrast, the kappa maki, or cucumber, roll provides only 3.5 grams of fiber. Some sushi versions use brown rice or other types of rice, and the fiber value is higher for those types. Vegetable-based sushi rolls are also higher in fiber because they often contain carrots, cucumbers, avocados and sea vegetables.
The fat content of the sushi rolls varies by the type of fish and the type of spread that could be mixed into the filling. The spicy tuna roll sometimes contains mayonnaise, and the fat can increase. Salmon and tuna are naturally fatty fish, so sushi that contains these fish will be higher in fat, the Texas Department of State Health Services Seafood and Aquatic Life Group shows. Shrimp naturally provide cholesterol. The Sushi FAQ website reports that the California roll contains 7 grams of fat per roll, and the unagi and avocado roll provides 17 grams of fat. The spicy tuna roll adds 11 grams fat. Lower-fat sushi options include the kappa maki roll and the tuna roll, which both provide 2 grams or less of fat.
Rice, the base of sushi, is high in carbohydrates. However, not much rice is used to make most sushi rolls. If possible, choose brown rice when ordering sushi, because you will gain the added nutritional benefits of fiber and some vitamins. Most rolls, the Sushi FAQ website shows, provide 28 to 38 grams of carbohydrates. However, the shrimp tempura roll provides nearly twice as many carbohydrates because the shrimp is breaded before it is fried and incorporated into a rice roll.
Sushi can be a fun meal, but the calories are significant. If you are concerned about controlling your calorie and fat intake, choose vegetable-based sushi and select fish that are naturally lean, such as white fish. Avoid fish mixtures, like the spicy tuna roll, which could contain mayonnaise, because they add fat and calories. Ask your restaurant server for exact nutrition information. Choose just two rolls and a salad to make a full meal. Choose tea over mixed or alcoholic beverages to control your calorie intake. Be sure to enjoy sushi at a reputable restaurant, because food safety is extremely important when it comes to raw fish. The Colorado State Extension Office SafeFood Rapid Response Network stresses that individuals with immature or compromised immune systems, such as children, the elderly and those with chronic diseases, should enjoy only cooked seafood items.
- sushi image by Maryna Girard from Fotolia.com
This article reflects the views of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of Jillian Michaels or JillianMichaels.com.