What’s your favorite date night, treat-yourself, indulge-a-little-but-also-be-healthy restaurant choice? If you’re like many Americans, you likely said sushi. While sushi was first introduced in the 1960s to America, its popularity only took off in the 1990s with creations like the California roll, and over the past 5 years sushi consumption has increased by close to 50% in the U.S.
Many people think of sushi as a healthy meal, and for the most part they are correct: raw or steamed fish and seafood, different vegetables, and smaller portion sizes contribute to lower calories and less junk consumption. However, depending on what kind of sushi you’re eating, you could be consuming a lot more calories or unhealthy items than you realize. Good sushi restaurants will have different cuts of fish and fresh seafood, but with the many different kinds of sushi, and especially non-traditional sushi available on menus today it’s easier than you think to eat poorly.
So what should you stay away from at a sushi bar?
- Any sushi with the word “spicy.” You’ve probably seen some sort of repeat on a sushi menu — a tuna roll next to a spicy tuna roll, or the California roll next to a spicy California roll. While your mouth may salivate at the thought of spicy sushi, “spicy” on a sushi menu really means “mayonnaise with chili powder.” It turns the very healthy 184 calorie tuna roll into almost 300 calories and 9 grams of fat just from that one addition.
- Overly fancy rolls. Sometimes the most delicious looking rolls on the menu are the most caloric, especially at fine sushi restaurants. Sushi with place names in them tend to mean that they incorporate something traditional of that area in the pieces or rolls, i.e. the California roll has avocado, and the Philadelphia roll has smoked salmon and cream cheese. Be careful to look through the items contained in the roll, for example the aforementioned Philadelphia roll contains 12 grams of fat and is nearly 300 calories, whereas the California roll has closer to 250 with fewer, good-for-you, non-saturated fats.
- Fried or tempura batter. The spider roll or the shrimp tempura roll could be contenders for some of the most mouthwatering sushi out in good sushi restaurants. Unfortunately that also makes it one of the worst for you. Oil fried or tempura batter add a lot of unwanted calories and junk to your meal, and a shrimp tempura roll is over 500 calories.
- Go for sashimi over rolls. Good sushi restaurants are a truly fine dining experience, and are considered one of the top cuisines. This means that their sashimi cuts will be delicious, and on top of that, they’re much lower in calories and have better nutritional value than regular maki rice rolls. If you really can’t do without the rice, ask your server for brown rice instead of white.