Here’s How Sushi Makes You Fat

Lori Boxer
Weight★No★More℠ Diet Center

Wikimedia Commons

 

Almost everyone loves sushi. After all, what’s not to love? It comes in all varieties and all colors, and those bite-size pieces are so cute, right? And who doesn’t think a sushi hand roll in the shape of a cone isn’t healthier than an ice-cream cone, right?  Well . . . uh . . . not exactly.

 

Sushi has a reputation as a healthy low-fat meal option, but if you’re not eating it the right way, there ain’t nothin’ low-fat or low-calorie about it! Depending on what you order, your sushi meal can be an absolute disaster. Certain rolls can have upwards of 500 to 1,000 calories.  So, let me give you some facts and figures.

 

SOME FACTS

  1. Sushi (fish on top of rice) – Average portion of fish used for 1 piece = .5 oz.
  2. Sashimi (fish without rice) – Average portion of fished used for 1 piece = 1 oz.
  3. Sushi is made with more fish than rice.  Sushi rolls are made with less fish and more rice; and poorer cuts of high-quality whole fish. (You don’t think they’d throw away those poorer cuts, the ones not used for sushi or sashimi, do you?  In other words, what would otherwise be discarded is used for the sushi rolls.)
  4. Sushi restaurants use short-grain rice, and most people have it with white rice (which digests quickly and causes a spike in blood sugar).  The shorter the grain, the quicker to cook. They cook it longer to make it stickier (for the obvious reason).  The sticker it is, the more starch (sugar) released.  But, they don’t stop there.  Rice vinegar is added to make it even stickier; and sugar plus wine, sake or sweet brandy is added to make it sweeter (that’s how ‘plain ole’ white rice at the sushi restaurant tastes so good).  There’s also a bit of salt added as well.

 

SOME FIGURES

These calories are a conservative (emphasis on the word “conservative”) average.  As with any hand-crafted food, calories in sushi, sashimi and rolls will vary in their sizes/weights and the content amount of condiments (i.e., rice  vinegar, sugar, sesame seeds, tempura flakes, mayo, sweet sauce, chili sauce), fish and rice.

  1. 1 TBS cooked sushi rice (per 1 piece of sushi)  = 25 calories
    1 piece of sushi = 60 calories
    1 piece of sashimi = 40 calories
    1 piece of a 6-piece roll = 35 calories
  2. A typical sushi roll is cut into 6 pieces, with rice inside or out.  There is one tablespoon of sugar for each cup of cooked sushi rice, and each sushi roll contains about one cup of white rice in it.  So, the rice in one roll alone contains 240 calories — BEFORE the fish is added!  And, of course, most people will have more than one roll as their meal.
  3. “Spicy” rolls are comprised of the less-grade fish mixed with chili sauce and mayonnaise, which adds fat and as many as 100 additional calories to each roll.  Then, there are the rolls with tempura, tempura flakes, cream cheese, chili sauce and sweet sauce.  ALL of this adds LOTS AND LOTS of calories before the fish is added.
  4. Here are some of the popular rolls that you’ll find in your local sushi restaurants.  (H/T for yeoman’s work to personal trainer, Mike Vicanti, who used standard portion sizes of each ingredient in a standard 6-piece roll, and the nutrition facts for each ingredient.  I excerpted from his more extensive list.  See: How To Track Macros And Calories In Sushi

 

Click on graphic to enlarge.

 

I would add to the above that while the nutrition information for sushi differs from roll to roll, and from restaurant to restaurant, most sushi rolls have a significant amount of sodium.

 

SOME ADVICE

  1. Get your rolls with rice on the inside OR outside only, not both.
  2. For the lowest calorie options, choose tuna, yellow tail, shrimp or salmon.
  3. Don’t think one roll is enough? Start with a mixed green salad with the ginger dressing on the side. Or, better yet, have one or two cups of a simple mixed green salad or chopped veggie salad at home about 30 minutes before heading to the restaurant. Would a cup of miso soup as a starter kill you? No, but the average cup (including the tofu and onion or scallion) has between 80 and 100 calories and lots and lots of sodium).
  4. If you must have two rolls, make the second one a vegetable roll.
  5. Sashimi is best because it’s literally just the meat of the fish without any rice or extra ingredients.
  6. Is brown rice better than white rice with sushi?  Well, it does have a little more fiber, but then again, it’s going to be cooked soft and sticky just as the white.  So, six of one, half-dozen of the other.  You decide.
  7. Beware of soy sauce.  1 TBS of Kikkoman Lite Soy Sauce = 10 calories 575 mg. sodium!! (1 TBS of regular Kikkoman Soy Sauce = 10 calories 920 mg. sodium!!) Avoid using it, but if it’s absolutely necessary, use the Lite and use it sparingly. Even then, try watering it down or squeezing some lemon juice in it. And, don’t forget: Drink lots and lots and lots of water!
  8. Avoid Seaweed Salad.  The green seaweed salad you get at a sushi restaurant is NOT health food! While its main ingredient (wakame) does have calcium, iron, niacin and thiamine, other ingredients dilute the salad’s nutritional profile while enhancing its taste:  agar, sesame oil, cloud ear mushrooms, sesame seeds, distilled vinegar, high-fructose corn syrup, sugar, salt, red pepper flakes, kelp extract and yellow and blue food coloring.  A serving of approximately 3 oz. has 100 calories, 5 grams of fat, 11 grams of sugar, and a whopping 1,200 mg. of sodium!  The black seaweed salad (called Hijiki) is no better.  Just 3 oz. of the “unfinished” product (what the restaurant buys) is slightly under 100 calories and 672 mg. of sodium and that’s before a restaurant enhances it its way, including sweetening it up!

 

When it comes right down to it, when you remove all the Americanized/westernized bells and whistles—the sauces, the cream cheese, the crunchy flakes — let’s remember that sushi is a Japanese-style FISH-FOCUSED meal. So, FOCUS ON THE FISH . . . and not on all the stuff that makes you fat.

 

 


Another good read in Reader’s Digest: 7 Sushi-Eating Mistakes That Ruin Your Healthy Diet

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