It is improbable that you have not heard of sushi, irrespective of your geographical location. The combination of rice, vegetables, and fish is a delicacy from Japan that became widely popular across America, and for good reasons. Sushi brings both flavour and health benefits to the table.
Dissecting the sushi
The ingredients for sushi are simple – rice, veggies, and fish covered in a roll of seaweed. However, there are three standard variations to the recipe –
Nigiri: You have rice paired with salmon eggs, raw fish, sliced egg, or cooked shrimp
Maki: Rolled sushi
Temaki: Special sushi roll into a cone shape by hand
While the variations offer amazing new flavours, they also change the nutrient compositions owing to the ingredients. The rice is vinegar-saturated to lend an acidic taste to the sushi. Chefs also like to add some sugar with salt to make it more palatable.
The maki comes with a fine sheet of seaweed wrapped around the rice and fillings. You will find eggs, avocado, cucumber, or mango, which add large amounts of vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, B12, C to your diet, along with folic acid and niacin.
However, the modern market favours a more delectable plate of sushi than the traditional one. It proves to be counter-productive on the nutrient count. The rolls are often fried and served with a creamy sauce, replacing the nori packed rice, fish, and veggies. The seasoning appeals to the masses, but it takes away the healthy bits.
Picking up the best sushi
The best place to start living healthy is with your diet. The Japanese stand out for their longevity and tenacity in life. The secret lies in their diet consisting of fish rich in EPA and DHA fatty acids. Sushi is an ideal combination of fibre and essential micronutrients. The best sushi joints use Nagimi or sashimi for the fish, paired with a side of green salad and vinegared rice.
Salman and mackerel are healthy options for the choice of fish. You have your regular rice wrapped sushi roll and another variant wrapped in cucumber. It adds a crunchy twist to the traditional serving. If you seek flavour enhancers, try pickled ginger or wasabi instead of high-sodium soy sauce.
Good food makes a good life.
Now, we understand the various ingredients that go into making sushi. Here are the health benefits of what they to do your body –
Cleaning and improving your gut health
Experts suggest the long lifespan of Japanese depends significantly on their gut microbiota. The beneficial microbes present to utilize the nutrients from fermented food items like bok choy, kimchi, mushrooms, and tofu. Moreover, the diet creates a sustainable environment for the organisms’ growth and reproduction and removes the waste material produced.
Boost your immunity
Sushi tastes better when served with wasabi. However, the lesser-known secret of wasabi is its health benefits. The flavorant disinfects the raw fish in sushi and strengthens your immune system. It contains glucosinolates, beta-carotenes, and various isothiocyanates, having antibacterial properties. Moreover, wasabi also kills some E. coli and Staphylococcus bacteria in your body.
Keeping your heart healthy
Fish is an excellent source of protein. Sushi works well with salmon and mackerel, both of which are rich in DHA omega-3 fatty acids. Studies by the FDA confirm that it reduces coronary heart disease risk and improves memory retention and overall brain health. DHA also mitigates the chances of developing a heart problem by regulating blood pressure and reducing hypertension possibilities.
Natural detox for your body
The nori used in sushi contains about 30% to 50% protein and 0.1% sugar, making it ten times more nutritious than regular spinach. The presence of high iodine naturally cleanses the liver and improves functioning. Other seaweeds offer the same benefits as kelp, Kombu, bladderwrack, or wakame if nori is unavailable. Some other excellent choices are red seaweed, Irish moss, or green seaweed, but as nutritious as nori.
The dark side of sushi
Sushi is mostly beneficial to your body, but nothing good ever came from excess consumption. Here are some risks associated with the delicacy –
Sodium may hit off the charts.
The flavour of sushi is a derivative of the mix’s various salts, from the rice, fish, and vegetables. It is already a high-sodium affair before adding flavourings like soy sauce. Excess salt intake can damage kidney function. The salt saturates the blood, and the body naturally tends to retain more water to dilute the sodium. One thing leads to another, and the blood vessels become stiff from the excess pumping. It leads to high blood pressure, stroke, heart failure, and even cardiac arrest. Ensure you regulate the salt content in your sushi.
Cannot escape the carbs
If you were looking to cut down on carbs, sushi does not assist you there. Rice is a central ingredient, and it is a refined carbohydrate. The processing of rice removes the outer husk and bran, and only the sugar remains. A high intake of refined carbohydrates increases the body’s vulnerability to type 2 diabetes. The high sugar content tips the insulin levels and blood pressure.
Check the mercury in your diet.
Fish is mostly beneficial to our body, but not every kind. Tuna has a bad reputation for having high mercury levels based on their type. Other breeds with the same risk include King mackerel, swordfish, marlin, shark, etc. Always opt for lower-mercury options like eel, crab, salmon, and shellfish for your delicious sushis.
Risk of foodborne illness
Poor cooking practices and undercooked or rotten meat is not exclusive to sushi, but they have a risk. The heat involved in cooking removes harmful pathogens, but preparing sushi does not need heat. Frozen or undercooked seafood often contain parasites that can affect the human body. Older people and pregnant women should not consume a seafood-based diet.
The food that experts love
Sushi is not the epitome of health, but you can indeed maximize the benefits out of it. Focus on the ingredients and sauces behind the sushi. Ask for a reduced quantity of rice and concentrate on vegetables like cucumber and carrots. Sushi offers a wholesome meal with several variations. Explore the options, and you will find the perfect, nutritious meal.