Is sushi healthy?
Sushi is the most famous and popular Japanese dish in the world. Not only is it very tasty, but it is also great fun to share a sushi dish with your friends. There is always a wide choice of sushi with fish or meat and even vegetarian options are possible. Some see sushi as a healthy meal, while others count it as fast food. The confusion is understandable because there are so many different types of sushi. Japanese cuisine has a lot more to offer than sushi. Let’s immediately see if Japanese food is healthy and why we should or should not label sushi as healthy.
Is Japanese food healthy?
The Japanese island of Okinawa is home to the largest number of people over 100 in the world. There are of course several factors at play here, but the traditional Japanese diet undoubtedly has something to do with that. Japanese food consists mainly of qualitative pieces of meat or fish combined with noodles or rice and various types of vegetables. Some typical examples from Japanese cuisine are:
- Ramen: Served in a meat or fish stock, these noodles are flavored with soy sauce, chicken, pork, seaweed, spring onion, egg and mushrooms.
- Udon: These noodles are thicker than ramen and have slightly different toppings. The most commonly used ingredients are egg, seaweed and Kamaboko (a kind of fish cake with kelp) and beef.
- Edamame: These are slightly unripe soybeans that are boiled and salted. You can find them on the menu between the sushi dishes, but more and more shops are also selling it.
- Teriyaki. This is also one of the most famous Japanese preparation methods for meat or fish. Marinating meat or fish in a sweet soy sauce gives it a dark shine and sweet taste.
- Panko: In this dish, meat or vegetables are breaded with panko breadcrumbs. When they are fried afterwards, they are called katsu.
- Tamagoyaki: This is an omelet that is rolled up with vegetables in it. Then it is cut into cubes and has the same shape as sushi.
In traditional Japanese dishes, a lot of work is done with high-quality pieces of meat, fresh fish and lots of vegetables. This generally ensures a healthy and balanced diet with sufficient protein and healthy fats.
An important aspect is that the Japanese like fresh, high quality ingredients and the processing is often minimal. Moreover, little extra sugars or bad fats are added. This provides a high amount of healthy nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. A typical Japanese ingredient that is relatively unknown to us is seaweed.
Is seaweed healthy?
Sea vegetables such as seaweed are often used in Japanese recipes. Algae and seaweed contain many vitamins and minerals and are rightly labeled as superfoods. This is due to some important nutrients:
- Iron: Algae and seaweed are an excellent source of iron. Some varieties even contain more iron than spinach.
- Iodine: Iodine is very important for the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. Because the Dutch soil is poor in iodine, it is added to baker’s salt. But by eating seaweed you also get iodine, in a completely natural way.
- Amino acids: Proteins consist of all kinds of small building blocks: amino acids. Seaweed and algae contain many of the important essential amino acids and are therefore very popular as a supplement for those who do not eat meat or fish.
- Healthy fats: We know that fatty fish contain many healthy fats such as omega 3. Algae and seaweed also contain a lot of these healthy fatty acids. In fact, fatty fish contains these healthy fatty acids by eating algae. We can therefore also take in these healthy fats via algae, which also avoids the risk of metal contamination of fatty fish.
- In addition, seaweed also contains vitamin B1, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium and potassium.
Is sushi healthy?
The most famous sushi variety is maki. The maki base is made from seaweed and rice and is filled with fish, vegetables or egg. Sometimes sushi is also made with meat, and of course, you also have sashimi: raw meat or fish, without rice.
These types of sushi are an excellent part of a healthy diet. Especially the fresh fish and vegetables and the unique healthy properties of seaweed make sushi an excellent dish to obtain all kinds of healthy nutrients.
Of course, there is also fried sushi such as tempura shrimp, which is less healthy. And the sauces you choose can also make your sushi dish less healthy. Soy sauce is not unhealthy, but it does contain a lot of salt. Teriyaki sauce does contain a lot of sugar and if you use mayonnaise it probably contains too many unhealthy fats. The white rice used in the preparation of sushi also counts nicely in terms of the number of carbohydrates.