As an avid sushi lover, stuffing my face with sushi rolls is quite the easy task. Nonetheless, I often find myself wondering about my meal’s nutritional value. Although sushi portions may appear small, the amount of calories, fat, and sodium racks up quickly. With so many different sushi rolls to choose from, the possibilities seem endless; however, what I really want to know is, is sushi healthy?

Is Sushi Healthy?

eel, crab, nori, wasabi, salmon, shrimp, avocado, tuna, fish, rice, seafood, sushi, roll, chopsticks, California roll
Caroline Ingalls

Whether your sushi comes from a local supermarket or an extravagant Japanese restaurant, there’s no denying that it's become a conventional meal in the United States. Sushi may appear as an exceptionally healthy meal since it’s composed mainly of seafood, which is a high-quality protein. With that in mind, a roll’s nutritional content is solely determined by the selections you make.

Sushi can indeed be a healthy addition to one’s diet, particularly when it contains vegetables, avocado, and omega-3-rich seafood, like tuna and salmon. If you’re interested in a protein-rich meal, you’re better off choosing salmon, tuna, or rainbow rolls, which contain over 20 grams of protein per roll. Additionally, fish such as tuna, trout, and salmon contain omega-3 fatty acids, which assist in cardiovascular health and brain functioning and act as natural anti-inflammatory compounds

sushi, tuna, rice, shrimp, salmon
Megan Tang

Depending on what roll you order, the healthfulness of sushi can quickly decline. Tempura batter and condiments such as cream cheese and mayo considerably increase the amount of unhealthy calories and fats. For instance, a shrimp tempura roll dipped in eel sauce and spicy mayo may contain over 20 grams of fat and more than 500 calories, which is three times the fat and double the calories of a California roll.

Something else to keep in mind is that although sushi rice is extremely delicious, it’s typically made with sugar, rice vinegar, and salt, making it a source of refined carbohydrates and decreasing its nutritional value. Because white rice is digested rapidly, it causes spikes in blood sugar that can leave you hungry right after you’ve just finished eating. For a better alternative, request brown rice instead. It’s high in fiber, causing it to be much more filling than white rice.

Sodium Content of Sushi

salt, condiment, chocolate, sweet
Angela Kerndl

Unfortunately, sushi contains a relatively high amount of sodium. Although the nutrition information varies from roll to roll, most sushi rolls have a substantial amount of sodium. Even a California Roll made with brown rice has enough sodium in it to make me think twice (about 750 mg, which is half of what your body needs in one day). Soy sauce can be a concern as well, as one tablespoon has approximately 1000 mg of sodium, which is about 40 percent of the daily recommended limit.

Healthiest Sushi Options

sushi, salmon, sashimi, fish, seafood, rice, tuna, meat, wasabi
Jocelyn Hsu

Sashimi is one of the healthiest options when ordering sushi. It’s made from thin cuts of raw fish without the rice found in rolls. Because sashimi is raw fish, you’re getting straight omega-3s and protein, while also avoiding large amounts of refined carbs. Make sure you order sashimi at a high-quality restaurant, as raw fish should be consumed safely.

The bottom line is that when eating sushi, keep it simple, seafood-rich, and avoid fried rolls and excess sauces. If you're new to the world of sushi, read up on the most popular types of sushi so you know what to order.