Is Sushi Healthy? The Answer May Surprise You!

Not only is sushi a fun meal to eat (as long as your chopstick skills are up to par), it’s also delicious and many people perceive it to be healthy. The “guilt-free” meal typically consists of miso soup or a seaweed salad to start off with. Then diners get a full plate of sushi with some pickled ginger, wasabi paste, and soy sauce on the side. If you are a sushi roll lover, you are munching on vinegar-flavored rice, fish, and vegetables rolled in seaweed paper known as nori. That all sounds pretty healthy, right? Well, keep reading to find out why your “healthy” sushi meal may be deceiving.

Not only is sushi a fun meal to eat, it's also delicious and many people perceive it to be a healthy dish. But is sushi healthy? The answer may surprise you.


On the surface, it seems like sushi, a popular Japanese dish, is packed with all healthy ingredients. After all, ginger is one of the healthiest spices on the planet, miso is loaded with gut-friendly probiotics, fish is packed with protein and beneficial Omega 3 fatty acids, and rice offers fiber. That’s not to mention nori contains various vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, iodine, and thiamine.

While there is no denying that sushi can be a healthy meal, there are some things that you need to know before ordering at your local sushi restaurant.

1) Seaweed Salad

Whenever you go to a restaurant, you probably assume if a dish has the word “salad” in it then it must be healthy. So naturally, a seaweed salad would seem like a healthy appetizer option. Not only is it “salad,” but if you’ve ever read the nutritional facts for seaweed then you know it’s also incredibly nutritious. It offers the body a geat deal of beneficial vitamins and minerals. With that said, the seaweed salad that’s served at most sushi places comes pre-made in bulk from distribution companies that load it up with unhealthy additives such as:

  • High-fructose corn syrup
  • Vegetable oil
  • Artificial colors
  • GMOs

These are all ingredients we’ve included in our list of dangerous food additives people should avoid! So, I’m sorry to break the news to you, but your seaweed salad probably isn’t as healthy as you thought it was.

What You Should Do:

If you are a lover of seaweed salad, it’s always a good idea to ask the restaurant if they make it in-house or if it comes pre-packaged. One giveaway that unnatural ingredients have been added to your seaweed salad is if it has an unusual bright green color.

seaweed salad

2) Sushi Rice

If you are someone who only eats sashimi at a sushi restaurant then you probably don’t eat a lot of rice. Sashimi is simply thin slices of raw fish. If you order rolls, though, then you are loading up on rice … and there are a few problems with the sushi rice.

First off – sushi restaurants typically use white rice in their rolls. White rice is refined and has been stripped of almost all it’s fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Don’t see anything wrong with that? Well, some research studies suggest eating a lot of refined carbs can promote inflammation. Since inflammation is at the root of almost all diseases, this isn’t something to take lightly.

That’s not the only problem, though. Sushi rice also contains hidden ingredients, such as sugar, to make it a bit sweeter. Sushi rice may also contain high-fructose corn syrup and the artificial sweetener Aspartame. Since these sugars and artificial sweeteners are broken down and digested quickly, they can cause spikes in blood sugar. Plus, there are a slew of other health risks associated with high sugar consumption.

Lastly, most sushi rice is high in salt. While there is nothing wrong with adding a dash of salt to your meals, it’s better when you are the one controlling the amount. Today, Americans are eating way too much salt and it’s not because they are flipping over the salt shaker. Rather, it’s because their food is arriving to them loaded with salt. In this case, most sushi rice is cooked in salt.

What You Should Do:

One thing you can do is ask your waiter/waitress to swap out the white rice for brown rice. Even better, you can request a rice-less roll. That means your rolls would simply consist of nori, fish, and vegetables. If you do have sushi that contains white rice, though, try to pick some of it off. That way you are eating less.

sushi rice

3) Ginger

Like I mentioned earlier, when your server brings you a plate of sushi, you will notice a pile of ginger on the side of your plate. A lot of people eat the ginger to cleanse their palate in between eating different pieces of sushi. Since ginger is one of the healthiest spices on the planet (it helps with digestive issues, eases nausea, and offers heart benefits), you may be surprised to find out that sushi ginger isn’t all that good for you. In fact, it’s not good for you at all. That’s because the ginger that’s served with sushi is pickled and unnatural. It’s been processed with dangerous food additives such as:

  • Aspartame
  • Monosodium glutamate (MSG)
  • Artificial colors (if the ginger looks pink)
  • Preservatives

What You Should Do:

Your best bet is to ditch the ginger altogether.


4) Wasabi

Have you ever wondered what that bright green pile of paste sitting on your sushi plate is? It’s called wasabi and many people eat it with their sushi. While this Japanese mustard offers many health benefits — such as fights inflammation, kills bad bacteria, and has anti-cancer properties — don’t expect to reap those health benefits from the wasabi at your local sushi restaurant. Only authentic wasabi offers such health benefits and authentic wasabi is extremely hard to come by. In fact, it’s estimated that only 5 percent of restaurants in Japan, and only very high-end restaurants in the United States, serve the real stuff that derives from the wasabia japonica root.

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