There was a time when people in the United States didn’t give much thought to sushi, but over the past decade or so, it has become one of the trendiest foods overall, not just in the seafood category. Sushi is certainly “in” right now, as restaurants that specialize in this dish are popping up seemingly left and right. Though it might seem new, sushi has been around for hundreds of years, with the earliest writings coming from the 14th century.
There’s not just one type of sushi, though, as the ingredients can change from roll to roll. The most common sushi rolls that you’ll see typically include rice, fruits and vegetables such as seafood. One thing that most sushi has in common is the fact that it uses raw seafood such as tuna, snapper, yellowtail or salmon. When made the right way, sushi has an incredibly amount of health benefits. To prove it, let’s take a look at the nutritional value and health benefits you get from adding sushi to your diet.
Nutrition of Sushi
While there are many different types of sushi, we want to look at the type that combines many of the standard ingredients that we see such as asparagus, avocado, rice and more. In 100 grams of sushi (which is about 3.5 ounces), you’ll only get 100 calories with four percent of your daily protein recommendation and five percent of your daily fiber. There are plenty of vitamins in sushi, with a third of your daily vitamin A.
Vitamin K and folate both come in at nearly 20 percent, with a little less than 10 percent daily value in vitamin C, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6 and pantothenic acid. In terms of minerals, There are between 10 and 20 percent of your daily iron and manganese and nearly 10 percent of your magnesium and selenium needs. Other vitamins in smaller amounts include calcium, potassium and copper, with almost no fat and zero cholesterol per serving.
With most of the types of sushi that you eat, you’re getting a lot of omega-3 fatty acids, especially if you get the right kinds of fish. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your heart, as they can drastically reduce your chances of a heart attack or stroke by balancing your cholesterol. Those that get an increase in their omega-3 intake often lower their LDL (bad) cholesterol levels while raising their HDL (good) cholesterol.
Cholesterol isn’t the only factor that plays into your heart health, as you also have to control your blood pressure. Seafood that’s high in omega-3 has been shown to help reduce your blood pressure, which is why those that have hypertension are often told to eat more seafood in their diet. You’re still getting omega-3 in types of sushi without fish, but increase the amount when you eat fish such as trout of salmon.
Seafood isn’t just a staple of a heart healthy diet, but is also one of the biggest aspects of successful weight loss plans such as the Mediterranean Diet. The other large aspect is vegetable, and sushi combines those two elements. Sushi is fairly low in calories as long as you don’t eat too many rolls at once, meaning that it can fit comfortably into your daily calorie budget at an estimated 100 calories per serving.
As long as you don’t pack too many high calorie ingredients into sushi like mayo or anything fried, a combination of vegetables and fish is great for losing weight. It’s not just the calorie count, either, as sushi can be very high in protein. Eating more protein will enhance your ability to build muscle, which in turn boosts your metabolism to burn more calories and fat even when not working out.
Seaweed and many types of seafood are packed with antioxidants, so the combination of the standard ingredients in sushi can really boost your immune system. Two of the main ingredients that you might not think about being good for immunity are ginger and wasabi. The antioxidants in these ingredients boosts your body’s ability to fight off free radicals that attack cells and can inhibit cancer growth.
Many of these ingredients even have anti-carcinogenic properties that can reverse damage that’s been done by those free radicals. With a nice little boost of vitamin C added on top of all of the antioxidants, you’ll even create more white blood cells that can protect you from viruses. Oranges get all of the love for immune health, but sushi has a ton of the same benefits.
Because of the seaweed content in sushi, you’re getting a healthy amount of vitamin K that you might not be getting if you don’t eat a lot of green vegetables. Vitamin K is one of the most important nutrients for your blood stream, as it can prevent your arteries from hardening, cutting your chances of stroke and heart disease.
Another aspect of sushi that helps your blood is iron, which increases your red blood cells to carry more oxygen throughout your body. If you ever feel bogged down through the day and fatigued, you might have an iron deficiency known as anemia. Eating more foods such as sushi can help prevent these problems, and even has a benefit for your skin.
Your vision is important, and something that can get worse with age. We tend not to think about it until it’s too late, so you need to be eating more vitamin rich foods such as sushi. Sushi contains a high concentration of both folate and vitamin A, which are essential in preventing age related problems such as macular degeneration. The antioxidants also fight off free radicals that attack your eyes, keeping your vision stronger in the long run.
Summing it Up
Just like any food, no matter how healthy it is, you always have to eat in moderation. This is especially true depending how the sushi is made, because some establishments will pack them with high calorie and low nutritional ingredients such as fried tempura or mayonnaise. When eating the healthier versions of sushi, though, there isn’t too much to worry about if you’re not allergic to seafood.
Of course, seafood always has a little bit of a risk because of mercury levels, especially in larger fish. While you’ll be fine eating seafood like that once in awhile, it can become a problem if you eat too many. Also try to steer clear of the soy sauce, since it’s packed with sodium. Sushi is like a lot of foods in the fact that it’s healthy at its core, but can be made unhealthy in a hurry. Just keep a close eye on the ingredients, and you’ll be able to enjoy sushi as part of your diet!