Why is sushi so expensive

How healthy is sushi really?

Table of Contents

  1. Sushi - the rolled specialty
  2. Popular sushi variants
  3. Nutrients in sushi
  4. Bacteria and parasites
  5. Exposure to mercury
  6. Sushi smarter
  7. Knowledge to take away

Sushi - the rolled specialty

Sushi is considered the national dish of the Japanese. The rice rolls are said to have their actual origin in Southeast Asia: it was not until the 17th century that sushi was served in Japan in the form we are currently familiar with. The method of preparation has hardly changed since then.

Sushi consists of boiled rice refined with vinegar, which is rolled into a sheet of dried nori seaweed together with raw fish and vegetables. The finished rice rolls are then cut into slices and served with soy sauce, wasabi (green horseradish) and gari (pickled ginger). Sounds like a high-quality food selection - whether Sushi healthy this technical article clarifies.

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Sushi has been served in Japan since the 17th century. It consists of cooked vinegar rice, raw fish and vegetables rolled together in a nori sheet and served sliced.

Popular sushi variants

1. Hosomaki - thin roll

Half a sheet of nori is used to prepare thin rice rolls with one or two ingredients - the result is hosomaki. The most popular fillings include sake (salmon), avocado, and kappa (cucumber).

2. Futomaki - thick roll

These rice rolls are significantly thicker than Hosomaki. For Futomaki a whole nori sheet is used, which is filled with more than two ingredients.

3. Uramaki - rolled from the inside

They are called Uramaki, California Roll or Inside Out Roll - but they all describe the same fish specialty: In contrast to Hosomaki or Futomaki, the nori sheet is on the inside of the sushi and the rice on the outside. The rolls are then refined with sesame, chives or fish eggs.

4. Nigiri - pressed sushi

Not rolled, but pressed: Nigiri are pressed, oval rice balls topped with a dollop of wasabi and a thin strip of raw fish, seafood or omelette.

5. Temaki - handmade

For Temaki, nori sheets coated with rice are rolled up into a cone-shaped bag - similar to a waffle cone in an ice cream shop. This is then filled to your heart's content. You can choose from fish, seafood, vegetables and, of course, spicy wasabi as a topping.

6. Sashimi - fine fish fillets

Strictly speaking, sashimi is not part of sushi - but both are often served together. Sashimi is a term used to describe small, thin slices of raw fish fillets. They are eaten with soy sauce and wasabi.

To the sushi recipes ►

There are numerous varieties of sushi. The most popular types include hosomaki, futomaki, uramaki, nigiri, temaki, and sashimi.

Nutrients in sushi

Many sushi lovers would not hesitate to put the label "healthy" on Asian finger food. His image is almost entirely positive. But sushi is really healthy? To answer this question, we have to take a closer look at the various components of rice rolls and their ingredients:

1. Raw fish

The typical main ingredients for sushi are raw fish or seafood, including tuna, salmon, freshwater eel, mackerel, shrimp and crab meat. These sea creatures are rich in high-quality animal protein, which humans need for various metabolic processes and the build-up of endogenous proteins.

It also contains iodine, a component of thyroid hormones, and some vitamins. Fish is one of the most important food sources for vitamin D. Mackerel and salmon in particular have a high vitamin D content.

Fish is also an important supplier of omega-3 fatty acids: the fatty acids are present in high concentrations in the brain and nerve cells and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases (1).

Fish provides the body with valuable animal proteins, iodine and omega-3 fatty acids. The water dwellers are also a great source of vitamin D - especially salmon and mackerel.

2. Rice

For the preparation of sushi rice, white rice grains are used in combination with a vinegar mixture, sugar and salt. White rice is the name given to the grains that have been ground and polished after the harvest - but they hardly contain any vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Since white rice is easier and faster to digest than brown rice, for example, the blood sugar level rises rapidly after consumption and drops just as quickly - food cravings can result. Refined carbohydrates, like white rice, are suspected to increase the risk of type 2 diabetes or heart problems (2).

White rice is used for sushi rice. Since this is ground and polished on the market, it hardly contains any vitamins, minerals or fiber.

3. Nori sheets

Hardly any sushi roll can do without nori algae. They hold the delicious filling together and are also full of important nutrients. In addition to vitamins A, C, E and B 12, nori leaves provide zinc and some iodine.

In addition, they are fat-free and rich in protein and filling fiber. Its ingredients can lower the level of cholesterol in the blood and have an anti-carcinogenic effect (3).

But if you are hoping for a real nutrient bomb, you are wrong: only a small amount of the algae is required and processed for the delicious sushi specialties. For a sufficient supply of nutrients, the rice rolls only play a subordinate role.

Nori algae are fat-free and rich in protein, fiber, certain vitamins, zinc and iodine. Since only a small amount of the algae is processed for sushi, the nutrient supply from these ingredients plays a subordinate role.

4. Soy sauce

Maki, nigiri and sashimi are diligently dipped in soy sauce in this country. For sushi fans, however, it is important to know that traditionally produced soy sauce in particular contains valuable ingredients: it contains certain amino acids and a relatively large amount of protein, but only a few calories and no fat.

US researchers also found that dark soy sauce contains around ten times as many antioxidants as red wine. In order to use this effect, however, one would have to drink soy sauce by the glass - the usual consumption quantities are hardly sufficient to bring verifiable health benefits.

Some experts also warn that one should think about the salt content in soy sauce, which averages 13 percent. As a natural condiment, soy sauce is definitely more recommendable and healthier than pure salt.

Beware of industrial products: These often contain additives such as artificial flavor enhancers, preservatives and colorings. A look at the list of ingredients (4) will help here.

Traditionally made soy sauce is rich in protein and contains hardly any calories and fat. However, industrial products often contain undesirable additives such as flavor enhancers or preservatives and colorings.

5. Wasabi

Without this hot and green spice, almost nothing works in Japan: Wasabi. The term "Japanese horseradish", which is widely used, is also wrong: from a botanical point of view, there is no relationship between horseradish and wasabi.

In addition to the dried leaves, the root of the plant is mainly used to make the popular paste. The mustard oil glycosides contained in abundance in wasabi are among the secondary plant substances that reduce the risk of cancer and have an antibacterial and anti-inflammatory effect (5).

Many industrial wasabi products look similar to the original, but taste and smell much more intense and aromatic. Usually they contain only very small amounts of real wasabi, sometimes chlorophyll or spirulina concentrate is used or green-colored horseradish or a mixture of horseradish and mustard are used.

In order to get the typical fiery heat of wasabi, the manufacturers also use mustard oils.

From a botanical point of view, horseradish and wasabi are not related. The roots of the plant are mainly used for the paste. These are rich in phytochemicals that have an antibacterial effect.

3. Pickled ginger

Gari - pickled ginger - is served alongside wasabi with the sushi plate. The root is supposed to neutralize the taste between eating the different rice rolls. In addition, ginger has a few other benefits up its sleeve.

It is rich in potassium, magnesium and manganese, stimulates the metabolism and, thanks to its bioactive substances, is also used to relieve travel sickness. If you don't have a sensitive stomach, you are welcome to use this more often (6)!

Pickled ginger is rich in mineral and bioactive substances. It boosts the metabolism and can help against travel sickness.

Bacteria and parasites

Since one of the main ingredients for sushi is raw fish, eating the rolls also increases the risk of bacterial and parasite contamination.

Salmonella, vibrios, roundworms and fish tapeworms in particular can be detected in contaminated sushi. For particularly sensitive groups of people, these bacteria and parasites can pose a major health risk.

These include pregnant women, infants, toddlers up to five years of age, the elderly and people whose immune system is weakened due to illnesses or medication. In these groups of people, the body's own defenses are usually insufficient to fight the microbial infection.

The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment therefore recommends that they only eat fish and seafood that have been thoroughly heated (7).

The various bacteria and parasites get into the animals through insufficient hygiene during the capture and processing process. Consumers can only be advised to buy sushi only from reputable sellers or fishmongers.

Eating vegetarian sushi or fried variations would also be a way to reduce the risk. Make sure to rely on your senses and check the appearance and smell before eating (8).

Salmonella, vibrios, roundworms and fish tapeworms can be found on contaminated sushi. Risk groups should generally refrain from consuming the raw food. Consumers are advised to look for good quality when buying sushi.

Exposure to mercury

The ongoing pollution of the oceans is one reason that its inhabitants can also be contaminated with toxins. Above all, mercury plays a role, because the dangerous neurotoxin reacts in the human body with vital enzymes and can inhibit their effect.

However, the possible uptake of mercury through sushi is low. For many, eating raw fish is considered a luxury meal and does not end up on the table too often. In addition, salmon, eel, trout, crab and octopus are some of the species that are generally low in mercury.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has so far seen no reason to restrict fish consumption (9).

Many sea creatures have high levels of mercury. Popular sushi fillings like salmon, eel, and crab, on the other hand, have low mercury levels. So far, EFSA sees no reason to restrict fish consumption.

Sushi smarter

Is sushi healthy? By following these points, you can get the most out of sushi:

  • Use brown rice instead of white rice (or mix half brown rice with half white rice)
  • Order Temaki: The proportion of rice is lower here than with the typical rolls
  • Fish as the main component: This increases the protein content (Alternatively, edamame, wakame salad, miso soup or sashimi can be ordered)
  • No greasy sauces: Cream cheese and mayo sauces provide tons of extra calories
  • Rice instead of tempura: deep-fried sushi provides more calories and a feeling of fullness
  • Roll salmon, eel and crab into your sushi to keep mercury levels as low as possible
  • Only order sushi from a supplier you trust

EAT SMARTER product recommendations for sushi fun at home

Rice hunger sushi box

With sushi rice, seaweed leaves, ginger, soy sauce, wasabi, rice vinegar, chopsticks and roll mat.

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Rice cooker

For simple rice preparation without sticking and boiling over.

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Easy sushi maker

With the Easy Sushi Set you can make 8 sushis in one minute. Easy, quick and exotic!

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Sushi rice

Due to its round grain, its optimal starch content and its taste, it is considered one of the best sushi rice varieties in the world.

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Nori sheets

Seaweed sheets for maki sushi.

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Sushi bar: sushi, soups, salads and skewers

The bestseller from GU-Verlag dispenses with cumbersome Japanese kitchen and scores with simple instructions, classic and new creations.

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Microwave rice cooker

Super easy preparation for delicious and gently cooked rice for 2 people.

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Knowledge to take away

Sushi is rich in high quality proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and iodine. His health level can also be increased by using brown rice instead of white and increasing the proportion of fish and vegetables in the sushi roll - Hosomaki and Temaki, in which the proportion of rice is kept lower, are particularly suitable for this. So is sushi healthy!

It is better to avoid sushi fillings with cream cheese, mayo sauces or deep-fried components for a "healthy" enjoyment, as they have too many extra calories and fat.

For sensitive risk groups, sushi contamination with bacteria and parasites can pose a health hazard. These include pregnant women, infants, toddlers up to five years of age, the elderly and people whose immune system is weakened due to illnesses or medication.