Is Sushi Healthy? 7 Tips for Upgrading Your Order.

No, eating sushi off a naked man won't make it any healthier.

At first glance, sushi seems like a healthy option for the discriminating dieter. It’s basically a bunch of protein-rich fish wrapped in vegetables and seaweed. What could possibly go wrong? Turns out, a lot.

Indeed, I love sushi. In Toronto, one of my favorite things to do is visit all-you-can-eat sushi bars. Two nights ago, my boyfriend and I did just that. And somewhere between the tempura and the volcano roll, I found myself wondering: Is sushi actually healthy? What could possibly be bad about it?

Enter: Mayonnaise, white rice, high-fat sauces, fried ingredients, overeating and tons and tons of sodium.

Here are 7 tips for eating healthier next time you go out for sushi:

  1. Fill up on sashimi. Sashimi is raw fish. There’s no rice, or anything else to get in the way. Raw fish is quite healthy, and packed with protein.
  2. Opt for brown rice. Many sushi restaurants offer rolls made with brown rice instead of white rice. While white rice is delicious, it is high in calories, carbs and low in nutritional value. Brown rice is still relatively high in calories and carbs, but it does offer increased nutrients – including 4x the fiber. Whenever possible, order brown rice with your rolls.
  3. Drink lots of water and green tea. Water will help curb your appetite and boost your metabolism. Green tea is a miracle drink that helps drop body fat.
  4. Minimize the creamy sauces. If it’s creamy, it’s probably made with mayonnaise. Mayonnaise-based sauces can turn an otherwise healthy roll into a calorie bomb of epic proportions. Similarly, rolls with cream cheese bring an unnecessary caloric burden.
  5. Avoid anything with the word tempura in it. If it says “tempura” then it means that the ingredient is deep-fried. Obviously, fried foods – which are high in dangerous saturated fats – are to be avoided. Instead, order rolls with fresh or steamed vegetables.
  6. Sprinkle reduced sodium soy sauce on your sushi or sashimi. When placing your order, ask the waiter or waitress for lower-sodium soy sauce. Almost every sushi restaurant will have some on-hand. Traditional soy sauce is basically liquid sodium, which is extremely harmful to your cardiovascular system and leads to higher blood pressure. Moreover, instead of dunking each piece of sushi into a plate of soy sauce, sprinkle a small amount on the top of the roll. It will give just enough flavor.
  7. Mind your portions. Since sushi usually comes in smaller servings, some of us (guilty as charged!) tend to eat way too much of it. Be mindful of the amount you eat, and include steamed vegetables or edamame with your order.

Are you a sushi fan? What tips do you have for healthier sushi consumption? Let us know in the comments below.

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  1. to be honest Davey, healthy or not, I will always love sushi xx

  2. kennen blanning says:

    Love sushi. I grew up as a kid in Japan. No to the brown rice suggestion.
    The best thing for me is pacing. Order a few things (one or two less then the number of people at the table). Spend your time talking and trying each others’. Then order a little more. Trying to teach/learn using chopsticks is always fun.
    Never cream cheese or mayonnaise. They’re skimping on the good things.

  3. eh davey… love sushi me too. Could live on it.
    By the way creamy sauce are not made with Mayonnaise but guess what? CREAM

  4. Charley says:

    Love the sashimi. I need sushi when I have uni (mmm)) or roe but for everything else don’t need so much rice. But ixnay on the brown rice. Vinegared sushi rice is white. I can order chirashi, which is sashimi served over rice and control how much rice I eat.

  5. I love sushi….a tip for healthier sushi would be that raw is always better to cooked becasue japanese restaraunts tend to use some sort of fat to cook the fish (i.e. butter, oil, lard, ect). Another tip would be to make it yourself. That way you can control the ingrediants better. YouTube has about 100 videos on how to make your own sushi, all you need is sushi rice, a sushi rolling mat, and your fillings. Enjoy

  6. Christopher says:

    LactoOvoVegetarian FTW =D
    As in the only animal products I eat is cow-jiz and aborted chicken babehs =P

  7. I saw the title of this article… blog or whatnot and knew right away I wasn’t going to like its content. I’m glad I decided to read it in spite of my initial judgment. It wasn’t all bad news, and I think I could stand to incorporate a few of your tips and still find life worth living… I just love sushi soooooo much; you have no idea…

    Davey, I’m pretty sure I’ve suggested soft shell crab sushi to you, if you haven’t already tried it, in a prior post. I’m from Maryland and we love crabs. So sushi encased soft shell crabs are little morsels of heaven for me.


    I don’t still live there, but how much cooler a state is MD? Legal gay marriage is all but a lock.

  8. Brittany says:

    I love sushi. My tip is to not eat anything for the whole day, stuff yourself full of sushi and be bloated and hurting for a couple of hours but you’ll be thinking that it was totally worth it. I actually lost 2 lbs the last time I went out for sushi

  9. btw, i think that is a picture of a woman, not a man. look at the hip line and the face!

  10. Fah- My thoughts exactly. Pretty sure that’s a woman.

  11. My top orders in any sushi bar:

    spinach with sesame sauce

    seaweed salad

    inari sushi (deep fried tofu but nevermind)

    any type of nigi or maki; especially eel and sea urchin!

  12. I would also recommend avoiding rolls with cream cheese in them.

  13. Great common sense info on a sometimes deceptively light fare. Thx.

  14. Steven Nungaray says:

    You may also ask your Sushi Chef to sub cucumber slices instead of rice with your order.

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