Class is in session, let’s learn Sushi!
Sushi is an excellent source of heart healthy Omega 3 fatty acids and can be a low-calorie protein dense option if you really know the in’s and out’s of it. But, If you are like most people, when you think of “sushi” you think of rolled-up, high calorie delights, stuffed with crab, avocado, and cream cheese. You probably think of wasabi, pickled ginger and soy sauce as well. You might even begin to salivate and picture deep fried salmon rolls with a side of seaweed salad. And justifying an indulgent night of creamy, fried dragon rolls with seaweed salad just isn’t going to cut it. At least not for your waistline and definitely not for your heart! Well, I am here to help you get this “sushi” thing straight and learn how to make this indulgence healthier than you ever thought possible!
Sushi’s Heart Healthiest Choices
To begin with, the true meaning of “sushi” is “Japanese vinegar- flavored rice served with a garnish of raw fish, vegetables and egg”. Traditional sushi never includes anything imitation, creamy or fried and rarely includes avocado. Sashimi refers to pieces of raw fish and nigiri pairs raw fish with firm clumps of rice. Now, there are many healthy options when ordering sushi, sashimi or nigiri and many ingredients to pick from and choosing the most nutrient dense option is always the best and heart healthiest choice.
What are the Health Benefits of Sushi?
When it comes down to it, choosing the most nutrient dense ingredients is actually quite easy. Start with the fish. The fish is what makes sushi, sashimi and nigiri so delicious and we want to taste the fish. Right? The fish is what nourishes our bodies with rich Omega 3 fatty acids and protein. If you can, go for the sashimi. Sashimi is delightful and the options are diverse and most always include Yellowfin Tuna, salmon, eel and mackerel. Mackerel sashimi is a very heart healthy choice. At a mere 160 calories, each 4 oz serving offers a hefty dose of omega 3’s and25 grams of protein. Mackerel is also lower in mercury than most other large fish.
If you prefer more of a combined sushi experience, go ahead and order the roll you love, but request minimal rice and increase the vegetables. Try to limit the cream cheese and imitation crab and please, try not to order the fried tempura rolls! Those rolls are not sushi at all, they are more like savory fish donuts! You can always go veggie as well. Ordering a cucumber roll, avocado roll or sea vegetable roll is a good option, but void of the Omega 3’s your body craves and needs. You can also increase the health benefits by swapping the white rice for brown. Brown rice is a lower glycemic food than white rice and has more nutrients and less calories.
How Fish Can Help Your Heart
Fish, especially salmon, tuna, and mackerel, are nutrient and heart healthy fatty acid rich and nourish our bodies with these essential fatty acids required for optimal heart function. Omega 3 fatty acids, such as those found in sushi and fish oil supplements, lower elevated triglyceride levels and increase healthy HDL cholesterol. The heart healthy properties in Omega 3’s also protect and increase the strength of your arteries and decrease the harmful plaque build-up of LDL cholesterol.
Eating sushi, real sushi, is not only an epicurean pleasure, but also a bodily luxury! Really, as you learn to order and delight in real, fatty acid ripe, simply constructed “sushi”, you are massaging the workings of your heart and arteries as all of those velvety essential fats are absorbed. Now that is an added benefit I would never want to miss!
Ok sushi school graduate, go get some yummy sashimi and bask in both the taste and heart health benefits you are lucky enough to eat!