What's inside your sushi?

Tuesday 7th June, 2016

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Thought by many to be a healthy lunch alternative, the UK market for sushi is currently worth more than £38.9 million per annum, according to trade supplier SushiSushi.

Restaurant owners Daniel and Antony Woodcock from Maki in Shoreditch, say that London natives are attracted to sushi because it’s quick.

“It’s the perfect grab-and-go lunch, which works well with people’s busy schedules in the capital,” says Antony.

Besides the taste, the Scottish brothers say Londoners hope to reap the overall health benefits of fish.

The aquatic source of protein contains healthy, fatty acids - good for the body and brain - and vitamin D.

Image: Maggie Baska

However, sushi isn’t always as healthy or as slimming as people believe.

Adding up the amount of rice per roll, plus the salt and sugar in it, the calorie count can be high. In addition, unnecessary sodium and carbs are found in the sauces poured on top.

Another common phenomenon occurs when people end up feeling hungry again an hour or two after their sushi lunch.

The ratio of rice to fish temporarily tricks the body into thinking that it is full. White rice, the traditional type in sushi, has relatively little fibre compared to other kinds of rice.

The favourite condiment, soy sauce, is high in sodium. High intakes of sodium cause the body to bloat and increase blood pressure.

Rolls with multiple types of fish and toppings are not diet-friendly. They tend to be high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Plus, they sometimes come smothered in calorie-rich sauces such as mayonnaise or hoisin.

Having green appetisers like edamame or wakame (seaweed salad) before a meal helps to fill the stomach and curb overeating.

There are more than enough low-calorie fish options at a sushi restaurant. Instead of a spicy tuna roll, careful diners opt for tuna sashimi (rice-less sushi). The thin slices of tuna carry the same mild fishy taste without the addition of sauce. Sashimi is the optimal option to get daily protein.

You can try hand rolls. These nori (seaweed) cones come packed with fish, vegetables and sometimes rice. Hand rolls taste similar to traditional rolls but tend to be lower in calories.

Image: Maggie Baska

Many sushi chains offer brown rice as well as white. By switching the type of rice, the nutritional impact of the meal rockets skyward.

For those trying to get their five a day in, there are vegetable rolls. Veggie rolls can be a healthy, tasty choice. Most restaurants carry cucumber and avocado maki (small segments cut from a long roll). This option is usually a lot cheaper than non-veggie rolls.

To conclude, sushi should be enjoyed as a treat and eaten sparingly, rather than a dietary staple.