Is Sushi Good for You?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Like many Asian foods, when it is prepared traditionally, sushi is in fact very good for you. Its basic elements are vinegared rice, dried seaweed nori, vegetables, and fish. Traditional sushi is low in calories while also high in fiber, vitamins, and omega-3 acids. When eaten in moderation, it can be a healthy and delicious meal, especially when supplemented with interesting sides to tempt the palate.

Nigiri sushi assortment.
Nigiri sushi assortment.

The important thing to remember when eating sushi is that, like all foods, it is not very healthy when eaten in excess. The fresh, nutritious ingredients are not calorie free, although they are low in calories. Especially in the West, sushi is often made with fatty fish and vegetables like fried fish, eel, and avocado. In small amounts, these fats are actually good for you: in large servings, they are not. The dish encourages dainty eating and small portions, because of the way in which it is prepared and served. Stick with traditional Japanese varieties, rather than Westernized versions with things like cream cheese in them, and enjoy your healthy meal.

Two futomaki rolls.
Two futomaki rolls.

Working from the outside of the roll in, sushi starts with nori, dried toasted seaweed. Nori is fat free and contains several vitamins, including A and B. While a lot of nori would have to be consumed for these to be noticeable in your diet, nori certainly isn't very harmful. The rice is also relatively healthy, especially if brown rice is used. It's high in fiber and is often enriched with vitamins and minerals.

A temaki cone.
A temaki cone.

The filling for the sushi is where the nutritional information gets more complicated. Fish tends to be healthier than other meats, with a lower fat content and an assortment of nutritionally valuable vitamins and minerals, along with omega-3 fatty acids. Fatty fish like tuna has more of these valuable acids. The vegetables provide dietary fiber and vitamins to the consumer.

Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.
Hosomaki rolls underneath an uramaki roll.

Given available information about sushi nutrition, it is generally good for you. It combines healthy fats with fiber and vitamins to provide a complete meal. The ingredients have also been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and arterial clogging, so the dish can actually benefit the diner. Especially if you refrain from excessive sake consumption along with your meal, the dish will fall in line with most diets without needing to be altered beyond recognition, like many “diet foods” are. Rolls made with raw fish should not be eaten by pregnant women or those with immune system problems, and people concerned about mercury in fish may want to order more vegetable rolls.

Sushi often contains avocado.
Sushi often contains avocado.
Some sushi has crab in it.
Some sushi has crab in it.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

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Discussion Comments

anon153908

To 5875: Although the literal translation of sushi is vinegard rice, the context from which the word came was due to the face that raw fish was preserved in vinegared rice, when you were ready to eat you would eat the fish and throw the rice away. So while your literal translation is correct, the vernacular is not.

anon135411

Yes but that's not what sushi is thought as. Sushi is what generally pops in our head when we hear the word. Nothing else.

anon101618

Is it healthy to eat nothing but sushi?

Say if you wanted to shed a few pounds for a special occasion. If I were to eat four small portions of sushi (approx. 1100 cals) during the day, every day for three weeks, would that have a bad effect on my health?

anon75428

Avocado will make you fat if you eat too much of it! Consume more calories than your body can burn off = putting on weight.

Doesn't matter how healthy something is, too many calories of anything will make you gain weight.

anon69001

It's true avocados are quite good for you. They are a staple in many weight loss programs and they are packed with many nutrients and essential fats.

anon68954

how much is too much?

anon26555

You can not live on Avocado alone, You will become malnourished.

The one fruit/veg you can live off alone and not be at all malnourished is the Acai Berry, Which comes from the Amazon Rainforest. This berry is also in "Monavie" which people have incredible testimonies which prove this Acai berry does contain all you're body needs.

anon18825

This seems to state that avocado will make you FAT if you eat too much of it - Not true!! Avocado is full of Essential Fatty Acids - the fats that you need to survive - it will not make you fat!!! It is a little known fact that avocado is the one food you could live on alone without being malnutritioned!

anon5875

This article has a different interpretation of sushi. Sushi is merely vinegared rice; the toppings that typically accompany the rice are the neta, the toppings. One can eat a bowl of just sushi by having rice mixed with vinegar.

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