Monday, March 31, 2008

The Raw Truth About Healthy Sushi

Traditional Japanese sushi is a dieter's dream, thanks to its heart-friendly, low-fat ingredients. But this is America, and we like to supersize. What started out as truly lean cuisine now arrives on platters for one that could easily feed a family of four. Likewise, Japanese sushi kitchens don't use oil or mayo, but chances are your favorite sushi bar serves fried shrimp cooked in trans fats and spicy tuna full of mayo. What's a calorie-counting sushi lover to do? For starters, don't tackle a 20-piece sushi boat yourself! Next, get the skinny on the four fattest and leanest choices right here.

The Heavy Weights:
1. Tempura rolls: Any tempura dish is a big-time fat fest. A shrimp tempura roll, for example, can deliver 500 calories and 20 grams of fat, not to mention the boosted cholesterol from the breading and frying.

2. Spicy tuna and other mayo-based rolls: Before you order, ask if the minced fish is mixed with mayonnaise. If so, that delicate roll may harbor as many as 450 calories and 11 grams of fat.

3. Philadelphia rolls: Think they make those in Japan? Calories for a roll start at 300 and rise, depending on how much cream cheese is used. Here’s a hint: Two tablespoons of cream cheese add 10 grams of fat (6 saturated), and some recipes use four times that amount.

4. Dragon rolls and pretty much anything else made with eel and/or toro: Just 1 ounce of raw eel has 3 grams fat, and toro -- sliced from the fatty belly of tuna -- packs a shocking 7 grams per ounce. The fat is the heart-healthy omega-3 kind, so if eaten sparingly, an occasional indulgence may be okay.

The Lean and The Clean:
1. Assorted sashimi: Sashimi is sliced fish a la carte, and by omitting the rice, you save 30 calories per piece. Plus, by eating an assortment of fish -- white, red, oily -- You get the flavors and benefits of each. For instance, delicate white fish has fewer calories, while richer mackerel and salmon have more omega-3s.

2. Veggie rolls: Cucumber rolls and tangy pickled vegetable rolls are free of fat and provide a pleasantly crunchy contrast to the soft texture of fish sushi -- and at only about 150 calories a roll. For a vegetarian entree that packs heart-friendly fat as well as some iron and protein, try a shiitake, avocado, and pickled-ginger roll. Yummo!  As a bonus, that little sheet of seaweed holding your roll together gives you calcium, vitamins C and K, and folate.

3. Edamame (soybeans): Okay, fine.  They’re not actually sushi, but you will find them at any sushi bar and they’re great for you. Soybeans are full of fiber, folate, iron, and protein. Half a cup of steamed edamame has 127 calories and an amazing 11 grams of protein.

4. Tako (octopus) or ika (squid): Though they are high in cholesterol, both are even higher in protein, B vitamins, iron, selenium, and taurine, an amino acid that helps keep your arteries, heart, and eyes healthy.  They contain almost no fat and only 25 calories an ounce.
There you have it -- sushi the way it ought to be: naturally healthy.  Enjoy!


Avicenna said...

Some great advice! Sometimes when me and my friends go for "healthy dinners" we do that exact same thing! Knowing this info will really help in our decision making now.

Christopher said...

I've eaten sushi most of my life and I can tell you that this is all true (I think I actually read this article before). Regardless, at the local sushi place down where Iive they have this great sushi/sashimi lunch dish. It's a tuna roll, a few sashimi, and a tuna nagiri. Sort of alot for a lunch but it's what I "splurge" on after a week of working my butt off on martial arts, P90X, and treadmill work.

Sushi can be absolutely healthy if you do it right. Probably not something for every day (unless you eat it like in Japan) but definitely good for cleaning the pipes. :-)

See y'all in the chat room

Christopher Ortega

Crash said...

Hey Tony,
I'm just finishing week 1 of P90X after years of a computer-tech, sit-on-my-butt lifestyle. I love all kinds of food, so the healthy diet hasn't been a problem. Like you, I'm not counting calories. I'm listening to my body and using healthy foods as fuel.

This sushi blog came with great timing. I love sushi (teka maki, I believe is the tuna roll I love so much). But here in Utah, it isn't quite as accessible as when I worked in San Francisco. So sometimes I make it myself.

The recipe I have for sushi rice calls for 3 tbsp of sugar and 2 tbsp of salt per pound of rice. Maybe some hidden little evils to watch out for.

But nonetheless, I bought some nori (seaweed, which, by the way, is a great snack to just munch on dry. At only 10 calories per sheet and 20mg of sodium, it's almost free!) and have plans to try some sushi. But I thought maybe I'd reduce the salt and sugar in the rice, and try either wild rice, brown rice, or even millet and see how that works out. I suspect I might lose a little of the stickiness to the rice that holds it together, but maybe a little wheat germ husk in the rice will bring some sticky back. Cooking the rice without a lid and a little extra water might help, too.

It will be interesting to see how it all comes out. Certainly not traditional sushi, but if it tastes close, that's what I want. If not, Sashimi is just as good!

Thanks for the support!

Rob a.k.a Crash...

Amit said...


I love Sushi! That my favorite Sunday lunch. If i cannot make time to go to a Sushi bar then i at least get some from Publix stores. I love rice and i cannot live without seafood. So Sushi is a divine food for me. Thanks for the great info.



nick C said...


Please forgive me, dude, but maybe it's just my rough, down-to-earth, bare-bones, no-nonsense, anxiety-ridden Northeast/New York attitude that tells me eating raw fish is a new form of Russian roulette.:) I mean, just because the fish isn't swimming anymore doesn't necessarily mean that things aren't swimming in the fish, if you catch my drift;) Things like parasitic ringworms, tapeworms, liver flukes, E. coli, high mercury and other heavy metals, the list goes on....I know the industry tries to explain away these nasty critters that love to drill holes in most of our soft, pink internal organs, yikes! But, simply put, cooking all fish will kill all the worms and bacteria making it all that much healthier. Well, n'uff said!

Anyway, see you Friday, big guy! Have a great flight across this wonderful nation of ours!


AnneDudteJohnson said...

yes indeed. Japanese food, sashimi sushi, seaweed salads. All great and great for you.

Tony, I know this isn't the proper forum, but whatever. I have to tell you that I love the 10 minute workouts. They kick me in the butt and very effective. It's such a relief since I'm in the X-generation and am used to taking it up a notch. Or two. I do these 10 minute jobbies at work during lunch. LOVE IT. just had to share that feedback. Give us more coolcat!

Glynis said...

I beg to differ on the soybeans. They're *not* as good for people as the media blitz of the last decade has lead us to believe. Plenty of research is surfacing and putting a chill on that baloney. Full of phytoestrogens that increase a woman's risk of breast cancer. Soy is also a goitregen and if you have thyroid problems you can guarantee that if you increase the soy in your diet that your blood work will be chaos and you'll feel like garbage. (Been there!)

Rachel said...

I'm definitely not a fish eater (can't hold it down) which makes it a little harder to eat healthy; not that I haven't been doing it, but the variety is lacking. I do enjoy Japanese; although I haven't had it in quite a while. Are there any healthy choices that aren't seafood I could order at Japanese restaurant or am I pretty much SOL?

PoLisa said...

Hey Tony!

Well, I'm not a fan of sushi, or any fish for that matter. Call me land locked, silly, crazy, whatever. Just can't do it.

But I wanted to just send you a comment that it was fantastic to meet you at camp. I had heard so many great things about you from Mark Briggs and was able to see for myself how much fun you are! I knew it from all the DVD's but you're so much more fun in person!! :D I hope you had a great time in Phily! Would have loved for you and Mark to have stuck around for an extra day to chill out, but it's all good! Camp was a fantastic experience and I walked away from it with a renewed direction and drive! So thanks so much! I'm sure our paths will cross again. Perhaps Vegas camp???

Well, take it easy! See you later!

Lisa "PoLisa"

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Julia said...

My regular sushi restaurant will make any roll with hardly any rice at all if I ask for it with minimal rice. It's a great way to make sushi a healthier choice and provide options other than sashimi for me.

P90X Beginner said...

Hey Tony, this was a perfect post and answered exactly what I needed to know. I love sushi and I'm on my way to eat sushi with a friend. I feel I'm much more prepared to eat the right kind of rolls. I'm new to P90X but love it and it a few weeks has already changed my life. Thanks so much to you, your friends, and Beachbody!

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Tony M. said...

Good post.