Sushi. It looks delicious, it’s colourful, appealing and it’s healthy, right? The truth about sushi.
Yes, it’s delicious, but is sushi actually healthy?
The origin of sushi is said to date way back to the second century in south-east Asia, from a need to keep meat fresh. Meat and fish would be cured then rolled into rice to keep it from going bad. It was then left for some months for the meat to cure and ferment. This method was better than curing alone. The rice was discarded, and eventually, the meat and fish were consumed.
The idea was then taken up by the Chinese followed by the Japanese, who cured their sushi rice with wine or sake. Over time, vinegar was added to speed up the fermenting process.
In the 1820’s, chefs began to use raw fish in their sushi. Fast forward nearly 100 years later, when Tokyo was dominated by food stalls, vendors started to get creative adding their meats on top of rice.
In the past 20 years, sushi has exploded in popularity. Rolls became more westernised adding cucumber and vegetables in place of raw offerings for a new demographic. Thanks to globalisation, sushi has become a favoured option in many parts of the world.
Now back to the healthy non-healthy debate.
Here are a few quick suggestions that might have you second guessing next time you’re looking through the sushi shop window.
A study out of Norway concluded that potential pathogenic bacteria can lurk in sushi particularly if not refrigerated or transported correctly, and especially in raw fish. They also found that some bacteria can be introduced through raw vegetables and fish.
Salmonella and listeria have been recorded in sushi.
The researchers noted the quality of sushi strongly depends on the skills and habits of the preparation cook. In other words, you’re putting your food faith in their hands.
White rice is an empty calorie that enters your bloodstream causing a sugar spike and then crashes. These calories have been associated with diseases of the liver, heart, kidneys and pancreas as well as celiac disease, gluten intolerance and other allergies. White rice is the main ingredient in sushi.
No wonder I am always hungry after finishing a roll or two!
Crispy, spicy rolls = nasty rolls
Those added bits of crunch in your crispy chicken or tempura prawn rolls are a result of deep frying. Deep fried foods add trans fat to your diet.
The little bits of spice drizzled over your rolls are made of mayonnaise or similar substance and usually packed with sugar.
Pass the sauce, please
Who doesn’t love a good bit of soy sauce with their sushi? Unfortunate news; soy sauce is loaded with sodium which contributes to high blood pressure and increases your risk of a heart attack or stroke. Some varieties of soy sauce use MSG ad we all know how bad that is for us.
Wasabi, another much-loved condiment for sushi, often is not wasabi at all. Wasabi usually comprises of a mix of horseradish and green food colouring, and it is the green food colouring of most concern. Yellow food dye number five is found in the wasabi mix, and this contains carcinogen which is an agent linked to cancer.
So, next time you are hunting high and low for a healthy alternative to a midday hunger attack, it might be worth passing the temptation of a low-cost sushi roll. Low cost to the pocket, but is it really low cost to your health?