Sushi for Health: How to Make Your Favorite Food Healthy and What to Give Up

Although Sushi can be a healthy choice, some menu options may be high in sugar. When you’re in the mood for a quick and delicious takeout lunch or dinner, sushi may come to mind. Sushi is available almost everywhere, and most sushi restaurants have menu options to suit almost any dietary need.

While Sushi can be a healthy choice, some menu options may be high in sugar, sodium, and total calories that some people may want to avoid or reduce in their diet. This article discusses some of the healthiest sushi and related menu items and lists some sushi ingredients you may want to limit.

Sushi restaurants usually have extensive menus that include many healthy options. In most sushi restaurants, you have the option of choosing brown or white rice. While you can enjoy white rice as part of a healthy, well-balanced diet, brown rice contains more protein, fiber, antioxidants, and some vitamins and minerals than white rice.

Brown rice also lowers blood sugar levels than white rice and tends to provide more satiety. Thus, even if it is absolutely healthy to order sushi with white rice from time to time, choosing brown rice more often is probably better for your overall health. Here are some healthy types of sushi worth considering.


Sashimi is fresh, thinly sliced raw fish. Some of the most popular types of sashimi include salmon, tuna, squid, octopus, and flounder.

Sashimi is a simple and nutrient-rich sushi menu with high protein content. Protein is the most satiating macronutrient, and choosing protein-rich foods when you go out is a smart way to make sure your meal is satisfying.

A 113-gram serving of raw salmon contains:

  • Calories: 144 kcal
  • Protein: 23 grams
  • Fats: 5 г

It is also rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as selenium, potassium, and B vitamins. Try enjoying a protein-packed sashimi appetizer before your main course, or mix a few pieces of sashimi with other nutritious dishes on the menu for a satisfying lunch. Keep in mind that there are some safety risks associated with eating raw fish, so only eat sashimi at reputable sushi restaurants.

Roll “Rainbow”

As its name suggests, the Rainbow Roll consists of brightly colored ingredients. Recipes for rainbow rolls can vary, but they usually contain cucumbers, avocados, crabs, and various types of fish, such as tuna and salmon.

Rainbow rolls also contain a layer of nori seaweed and a layer of rice. You can ask for brown rice if you want the food to be a little higher in nutrient content. Rainbow rolls are rich in protein and healthy fats from the many seafood sources they contain. They are also a good source of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Vegetable rolls with brown rice

If you’re not a big fan of seafood, vegetable rolls might be your new favorite sushi order. Most sushi restaurants offer several types of vegetable-based sushi rolls, such as avocado and cucumber rolls, avocado rolls, and mixed vegetable rolls. A mixed vegetable roll may contain several vegetables, such as carrot, cucumber, radish, and asparagus. They also usually contain avocado to give a creamy texture.

Vegetable rolls are packed with fiber from a variety of vegetables, avocados, and brown rice. In addition, they are usually less caloric than other types of sushi. Even if you don’t see a vegetable roll on the menu, if you ask for it, most sushi restaurants will make you a vegetable-based roll from whatever vegetables they have on hand.

If you follow a plant-based or vegan diet, you can add tofu or a couple of vegetable rolls with steamed edamame beans to get some protein. You can also have vegetable rolls with sashimi or cooked seafood as a complete meal.

Roll with salmon and avocado

Both salmon and avocado are healthy. Salmon is a rich source of many nutrients, including protein, healthy fats, selenium, and vitamin B12, while avocados contain fiber, magnesium, vitamin C, vitamin E, and folic acid.

Eating salmon regularly can help lower triglyceride levels and increase protective HDL (good) cholesterol levels in the blood. Meanwhile, adding avocados to your diet can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and improve your overall nutrient intake. Most sushi restaurants will offer you simple salmon and avocado rolls made with nori and rice, which are a healthy choice.

Cooked fish

Although most sushi rolls contain raw fish, you can order cooked fish if you wish. Most sushi restaurants offer cooked seafood dishes. You can order cooked fish and combine it with other healthy menu items, such as seaweed salad, avocado salad, or vegetable roll, to get a hearty meal. If you don’t see a cooked fish option, ask your waiter if the chef is willing to prepare a cooked dish for you.

Salads with seaweed and avocado

Sushi restaurants usually offer several different types of salads, including seaweed salads and avocado salads. Avocado salads usually consist of sliced avocado drizzled with flavored ginger or miso-based dressing.

Seaweed salads are made from wakame seaweed, which is a good source of nutrients such as folic acid, manganese, and magnesium. Wakame is usually mixed with a mixture of sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and other flavorful additives.

Not-so-healthy ingredients to watch out for

Some ingredients used in the menu of a sushi restaurant are not the best choice for health in general, especially if you eat them regularly. It’s not harmful to eat them from time to time, but they should be limited to any well-balanced diet.

These ingredients can increase the sodium, fat, sugar, and overall calorie content of your sushi dish. Here are some ingredients and cooking styles to look for when ordering sushi.


Tempura is a style of cooking that includes stir-frying and deep-frying. Vegetables in tempura, seafood, and meat contain a lot of unhealthy fats and calories, so it is better to avoid them. It is important to know the ingredients of the sushi menu, as many sushi rolls contain seafood or vegetables in tempura batter.

In addition, sushi restaurants often offer tempura dishes consisting of tempura-battered chicken or fish served with tempura vegetables. These dishes can be very high in calories and fat.

Teriyaki and other sweetened sauces

Teriyaki and other sweet sauces used in sushi restaurants can contain a large amount of added sugar, which is harmful to health in general. For this reason, it is better to limit the consumption of sweet sauces, including those served in sushi restaurants.

If you want to order a teriyaki dish or any other dish prepared with a sugar sauce, ask for the sauce on the side and use it as needed to reduce your intake of added sugar.

Cream cheese, mayonnaise, and other high-calorie additives

Some sushi rolls contain creamy ingredients such as cream cheese and mayonnaise. While these ingredients are delicious, they can significantly increase the overall calorie content of sushi rolls. This is because fats are much more caloric than carbohydrates or protein.

If you want to eat a roll with mayonnaise or cream cheese, ask your waiter if the chef can reduce the amount of cream cheese or mayonnaise in the recipe.

Large amounts of rice

While rice can be part of a healthy diet, it’s very easy to eat a lot of rice at a sushi restaurant. If you eat several sushi rolls, you may eat two or more servings of rice, depending on how the sushi is prepared. In addition, non-sushi dishes, such as teriyaki chicken, can include large portions of rice, which are often enough for several people.

Moreover, sushi rice is often made with sugar to make it stickier. This further increases the carbohydrate and calorie content. Eating a lot of rice, especially white rice, can negatively affect your blood sugar and cause you to consume too many calories in one sitting.

To control your carbohydrate intake, you can ask for less rice in your sushi. You can also combine a sushi roll with rice with low-carb options such as sashimi, cooked fish, or vegetable-based dishes.

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Written by Emma Miller

I am a registered dietitian nutritionist and own a private nutrition practice, where I provide one-on-one nutritional counseling to patients. I specialize in chronic disease prevention/ management, vegan/ vegetarian nutrition, pre-natal/ postpartum nutrition, wellness coaching, medical nutrition therapy, and weight management.

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