Many studies have revealed that a diet abundant in omega-3 fatty acids may prevent conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. And there is no better place to get omega-3’s than from fish. So, sushi probably sounds like the perfect health food, right? Well, while traditional sushi with raw fish is nutritionally impressive, it’s a mistake to think that all sushi is a dietary bargain. Although the portions aren’t “super-sized” like most fast food chains, Japanese restaurants still hide some sushi secrets behind the bar. Take a look below at some typical menu items that you may find at your favorite sushi bar:
- Green salad (with 3 Tbsp of sesame dressing): 260 calories, 24g fat, 3.5g carbs
- Vegetable tempura appetizer: 255 calories, 15g fat, 22.5g carbs
- Eel and avocado roll: 372 calories, 17.5g fat, 57g carbs
- Philadelphia roll (salmon, cream cheese, avocado): 319 calories, 5g fat, 56g carbs
- Spicy tuna roll: 290 calories, 11g fat, 54g carbs
- Shrimp tempura roll: 544 calories, 13g fat, 128g carbs
- Spider roll (fried soft shell crab): 317 calories, 12g fat, 64g carbs
Add together a few of these menu items, and you have a meal that is very high in fat, calories and carbs!
Now, unwrap some healthy options at the bar:
- Miso soup (1 cup): 85 calories, 3g fat, 11g carbs
- Edamame, shelled (4 oz): 160 calories, 7g fat, 12g carbs
- Tuna (2 oz): 60 calories, 0g fat 0g carbs
- Salmon (2 oz): 82 calories, 3g fat, 0g carbs
- Seaweed (1 slice): 10 calories, 0g fat, 1g carbs
- Tuna nigiri (2 pieces over rice): 240 calories, 1g fat, 53g carbs
- Salmon sashimi (2 pieces, no rice): 164 calories, 6g fat, 0g carbs
By limiting your intake of the “heavier” items (in the first list), and by choosing more plain “sushi” you can do a great job at filling up on omega-3’s without going overboard on fat and calories. You can make your sushi meal even healthier by choosing low-sodium soy sauce, avoiding extras like mayo, ginger or sesame dressing and cream cheese, and by avoiding fried dishes like dumplings and tempura.
Keep in mind that large deep-sea species of fish, such as tuna and swordfish, are particularly susceptible to mercury contamination. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions pregnant and nursing women, women of childbearing age, and small children to avoid these types of fish. Check the FDA’s site for regular updates at www.cfsan.fda.gov.