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IS SUSHI HEALTHY?

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Is Eating Sushi Good For Your Health? - Find Out
If Sushi Is Fattening

Although sushi is still considered a kind of a novelty in other parts of the world, it started many hundreds of years ago in rural Japan with the tradition of preserving fish in vinegared rice. The word sushi actually means exactly that (vinegared rice). It was then just a simple way to preserve fish and the rice was later discarded and only the fish was consumed. It took centuries for the sushi to develop in the forms that we know today. Up until the 19th century the sushi wasn't even that popular in many parts of Japan. While all kinds of sushi can be healthy, it largely depends on the skill and integrity of the chef. To say that all sushi is healthy is too much of a generalization, but it is certainly one of the healthiest and exciting foods you can get.

Sushi picture

The world quest of the sushi started from the street stalls of Tokio after the Second World War. Those stalls were the Japanese fast food. However, that is where the comparison with fast food ends. Unlike the fast food, sushi is a healthy food and won't make you fat.

The sushi conquest of North America started in the 1960's in California, when a Japanese sushi chef created and popularized a sushi roll designed for the American clientele. Realizing the dislike of American people to eat raw fish, he replaced the traditional tuna with avocado, and made the roll inside-out, so customers don't have to bite on the seaweed first. This sushi roll was called California roll, and to this day still remains the most popular form of sushi in America.

Over the last 40 years sushi gained tremendous popularity among health-conscious people and gourmet enthusiasts as a healthy and tasty food. Some of the health benefits of eating sushi are:

- no bad cholesterol

- no unhealthy fats

- lots of Omega-6 healthy fatty acids

- lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals

- rice is a natural source of zinc, a mineral which boosts your immune system, helps your sex drive and healthy hair

- the nori sheets (seaweed) contain many valuable sea minerals and also antioxidants

- good nutritional value and protein content from the rice and the fish

- fish contains lots of vitamin E, which reduces the risk of cardio-vascular disease and lowers your cholesterol

- the health risks of eating raw fish are smaller than that of eating cooked chicken or beef

- because of the above reasons, sushi is not fattening as some other kinds of fast food

However, not all the sushi is equal. If you are buying sushi from a store, make sure that you check the label with the ingredients. It is very likely to find MSG (monosodium glutamate) listed as an ingredient. Sometimes the soy sauce contains MSG or HVP (hydrolized vegetable protein), which is glutamic acid or basically the free form of MSG. Another harmful neurotoxin to avoid is the aspartame that is often found in the pickled sushi ginger. Also, avoid sushi restaurants that fill their rolls with mayonnaise. Even though sushi passes as healthy food, there is a lot of junk that needs to be avoided. The junk sushi usually has similar characteristics: deep-fried, processed, drenched in ketchup-like sauces. Ever heard of sushi pizza or crab sticks full of msg?

What are the healthiest kinds of sushi?

The healthiest sushi is usually made of smaller wild-caught seafood, or vegetables. Such healthy kinds of sushi are salmon nigiri (the one from the photo above), avocado roll, cucumber roll, anything made with mackerel, scallops, albacore tuna, red snapper, or squid. If you are making sushi at home, you should make sure that all the ingredients you are using are natural. For example, get naturally-brewed rice vinegar and soy sauce. Again, checking the labels is very important. Click here to find how to make sushi at home.

Because health-conscious customers usually have better spending power and more disposible income, that led to the rapid growth in numbers of sushi bars all across North America. So, we, the health-conscious customers have to make sure that sushi is healthy and remains healthy by making the right choises and supporting only the places that make "clean" sushi without all the bad ingredients especially the msg that is so common for all the Asian cuisines.

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Chef George Krumov
About the author: George Krumov is a Red Seal certified chef with many years of culinary experience working around the world in Europe, the Middle East, the cruise line industry and North America. In the last two decades he has headed the kitchens of several restaurants in Canada, and ran his own restaurant.

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