7 Impressive Benefits of Sushi

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Sushi is a mouth-watering delicacy with countless health benefits. It protects the heart, maintains hormonal balance, boosts the metabolism, reduces the risk of cancer, and improves circulation throughout the body.

What is Sushi?

Sushi is a Japanese preparation and serving of vinegared rice. Various cooked or raw fish and pickled or unpickled vegetables are covered by the sushi rice and are then wrapped in the seaweed (nori). The appearance of sushi is beautiful and elegant, no doubt it is known as food art!

Types of Sushi

  • Nigiri: This type of sushi has slices of fresh raw fish or meat placed over pressed rice. It is seasoned with wasabi and soy sauce.
  • Maki: Maki is a sushi roll comprising one or more fish and vegetables in rice wrapped with roasted nori seaweed.
  • Temaki: This sushi is prepared in the same way as maki but is rolled in a cone shape for a better appearance and grip.
  • Uramaki: This is a very interesting roll, made inside out, where the nori covers the fillings and the sushi rice is used to wrap the nori. An outer coating is also done with toasted sesame seeds and other ingredients, all of which add a distinct flavor to the sushi.
  • Sashimi: In this, the slices of raw fish are presented without rice, generally served on julienned daikon radish.


Ingredients in Sushi

  • Sushi meshi (sushi rice)
  • Rice vinegar
  • Fish
  • Vegetables
  • Nori Seaweed

Japanese Accompaniments

  • Wasabi
  • Soy sauce
  • Pickled ginger (gari)

Nutritional Profile of Sushi

Sushi is a combination of many ingredients, so the nutrition profile is diverse. Sushi rice is a great source of carbohydrates and has negligible fat. The seaweed wrapper nori is rich in iodine. Seafood is the main ingredient of the dish that contains omega-3 fatty acids and selenium in large quantities. Different types of fish added in it contain different minerals and vitamins. The fruits and vegetables (avocado, cucumber, etc.) used in sushi also add to its benefits.

The accompaniments, ginger, and wasabi, contain antioxidant compounds, as well as vitamins and minerals. Soy sauce, which is a delicious dip for the sushi roll, contains very high levels of sodium, so use it sparingly. Additional cream and sauces like mayonnaise will add to the calories. So, control your cravings while enjoying the sushi.

Health Benefits of Sushi

Other than the delicious taste, here are the top reasons why you shouldn’t miss eating this Japanese delicacy.

  • Lowers risk of heart diseases such as atherosclerosis and strokes
  • Ensures healthy hormonal balance
  • Reduces risk of cancer
  • Increases red blood cell count

Let us look at the benefits in detail below:

Protects Heart Health

The most sought-after benefit of sushi is the tasty access to omega-3 fatty acids in the form of fish. The HDL cholesterol helps balance and eliminate LDL cholesterol from the body. Balanced cholesterol levels prevent clogged arteries and many related health concerns like heart attacks, strokes, and atherosclerosis. The best types of fish to add for omega-3 include herring, lake trout, tuna, and salmon.

Maintains Hormonal Balance

The seaweed wrap used in sushi comes with many benefits. It is called nori in Japanese and is rich in iodine, which is an essential element for our body. Iodine is important for the control and regulation of our endocrine system, most notably our thyroid gland. With proper iodine levels in the body, one can ensure a proper hormonal balance, which will eventually drive away chronic disorders.

Boosts Metabolism

The fish in sushi is rich in protein, as well as low in fat and calories. It can boost the body’s ability to function regularly, create new cells, and keep you strong and healthy. Hence, it is a favorite food of pescatarians, thanks to the good amount of protein it contains.

Prevents Cancer

Wasabi and ginger, the condiments that accompany sushi, have anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties due to their antioxidant compounds. These antioxidants neutralize free radicals in the body before they cause healthy cells to mutate into cancerous cells. Many fish varieties are rich in selenium, which is a trace mineral that shows anti-cancer properties. Nori also has phytonutrients that act as antioxidants in the body, making it effective in preventing cancer!

Improves Circulation

The fish in sushi and the soy sauce are rich in iron. Iron plays an integral part in the production of RBCs, which increase the circulation to all parts of the body, stimulate hair growth, and improve skin tone. An adequate level of RBCs improves the metabolism and speeds up the healing process of tissues and cells. Hence, gobbling up some it will not only satiate your taste buds but also boost your red blood cell count.

Tips for Serving and Savoring Sushi

  • Enjoy the taste of wasabi by putting it on top of the sashimi and then slightly dipping the fish in soy sauce
  • Serve the sushi on a textured platter to make it appealing and match the chopsticks to compliment.
  • Gari is a palate cleanser so eat it in between different types of sushi to enjoy the flavor
  • Eat the sushi as soon as it is ready and savor its freshness. Avoid refrigerating it as the rice will harden and lose its flavor.
  • While preparing a seafood sushi, it is best to source fresh seafood, on the same day you want to use it.
  • Experiment with the fillings as this is one thing where no boundaries apply. Use vegetables that you like and make your own tasty treat. Sushi is all about flavor, texture, and color.

Health Risks

  • Calories: With the varieties of preparations, sushi calls upon many risks. A mayonnaise one can shoot up the calorie levels even in the tiny bite you enjoy. Extra soy sauce will add extra sodium to your diet.
  • Infection: If the fish used in sushi is not cleaned properly, it can expose you to bacteria and parasites, causing stomach infection.
  • Mercury Level: Open waters bodies are prone to a larger mercury accumulation because of which the fish in them contain mercury too. High mercury levels are harmful to pregnant and breastfeeding women as they can lead to birth defects. Therefore, select your fish wisely to avoid any danger.

Apart from all these risks, there are no other reasons why you shouldn’t have a sushi right away!

Gochiso Sama Deshita!

About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, and publisher who earned his English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign, Urbana (USA). He is the co-founder of a literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and calls the most beautiful places in the world his office. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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