Is Sushi Healthy?

This is what dietitians really think about your favorite meal.

What is sushi?

sushiEvgeny Karandaev/Shutterstock

The Japanese word "sushi" refers to seasoned rice, not fish, according to Malina Malkani, MS, RDN, CDN, a media spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. The delicious dish itself includes small balls of seasoned sticky rice garnished with vegetable, egg, or raw fish, Malkani says. Now that you know what sushi is, check out what you need to know about the rules of eating Japanese food.

Is sushi healthy?

making sushi chefanatoliy_gleb/Shutterstock

Generally speaking, Alyssa Pike, RD, manager of nutrition communications for the International Food Information Council Foundation, says sushi is healthy. "There are several ways to make sushi, but often it contains ingredients like tuna and salmon, which contain omega-3's and protein," she says. Many sushi rolls have cucumber (high in vitamin C, K, and fiber), avocados (full of monounsaturated fats), a seaweed wrap (high in iodine, fiber) and ginger (contains gingerol, an antioxidant) on the side, Malkani says. On a broader scale, sushi also includes all three macronutrients—carbs, fats, and protein—giving your body a tasty variety of fuel.

Sushi sides are also healthy

miso soupLisovskaya Natalia/Shutterstock

The answer to "is sushi healthy" depends on your specific order and whether or not the restaurant is reputable, says Malkani, creator of the Wholitarian Lifestyle. But an extra boost of nutrition definitely comes from the typical sushi sides. "Sushi is also often accompanied by nutrient-dense, plant-based whole foods that promote health, like edamame, salad, seaweed, tempeh, tofu, miso, and steamed vegetables," Malkani says. Satisfying and filling meals are one of the reasons why Japanese children are the healthiest in the world.

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