Is Sushi Healthy? 7 Tips to Upgrade Your Order

By: Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Sushi comes in two main forms, Maki and Nigiri.  Nigiri sushi is made from rice, flavored with vinegar and topped with raw or cooked fish or vegetables.  Maki is typically seaweed wrapped with rice, fish, eggs or veggies.  The seaweed used in Maki, like Nori, is rich in “good” omega-3 fats and minerals like magnesium, calcium and iron.  Vegetables like avocado have healthy fats and fiber while cucumber contains nutrients to promote healthy skin.  Fish is rich in protein and some types boast anti-inflammatory, immune supportive omega-3s such as salmon, bluefish and mackerel.

Sushi is generally regarded as a healthy choice for keeping weight off and boosting nutrient intake.  But is sushi really a health food?  Just like most other meals… it all depends on the details.

Sushi can certainly be an incredibly healthy meal – after all, Japanese women have the second highest life expectancy in the world!  But unless your grandmother in Japan is making you sushi from scratch, there are some hidden health zapping ingredients to look out for.

Tips for finding healthy sushi:
1.) Fresh is best!
– Make your own.  Making sushi at home can be fun and easy once you get the hang of it.  Fill your Maki with lots of veggies and seek out an Asian market for sushi quality fish if you choose to include it.
– You can enjoy seaweed wraps sans rice during your reboot.  Try these Nori Wraps or Reboot “sushi” wraps.
– Get freshly made sushi from a local sushi bar or restaurant rather than pre-packaged.

2.) Choose brown rice over white rice.

3.) If you eat fish, include some sashimi on your plate.  Sashimi is just the fish without the rice.

4.) Limit tempura in your sushi, which is a breaded and fried vegetable or fish.

5.) Choose wild fish over farm raised.  If you’re looking for cooked vs. raw try eel, shrimp or grilled salmon.

6.) Watch your portion control. Sushi isn’t always low calorie – 8 pieces of California roll can pack as many as 516 calories.

7.) Read the labels carefully.
– If you’re choosing pre-packaged sushi, beware of additives and preservatives like FD & C Blue #1 and Yellow #5
– There is wheat in most soy sauce packets and lots of sodium.
– Avoid imitation crab and other artificial ingredients.

Here is the ingredient list of sushi in a local cafeteria:


Stacy Kennedy, MPH, RD, CSO, LDN; Reboot Nutritionist

Stacy is a Board Certified Specialist in Oncology Nutrition and an Integrative Nutritionist. She consults for various companies, focusing on health, wellness and innovative strategies to help increase individual’s fruit and vegetable intake. Stacy is an American College of Sports Medicine Certified Health Fitness Specialist; she holds a BS degree in Dietetics from Indiana University, completed her dietetic internship at Massachusetts General Hospital, and earned a Masters in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is a Senior Clinical Nutritionist at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute/Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School teaching affiliates, in Boston, MA, with more than 20 years of experience. Stacy created and now serves as project manager and lead writer for nutrition services content on the Dana Farber website and the affiliated, nationally recognized nutrition app. Stacy is regularly featured on TV, radio, print and social media on behalf of Dana Farber and other organizations. Together with her husband, Dr. Russell Kennedy PsyD, they have a private practice, Wellness Guides, LLC. Stacy is an adjunct professor in Wellness and Health Coaching at William James College, currently teaching a graduate course in Health Coaching. Stacy is featured in the award winning documentary films, “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead” and “Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2,” and serves on the Reboot with Joe Medical Advisory Board. Stacy lives in Wellesley with her husband, two sons and three dogs. She enjoys cooking, yoga, hiking and spending time with friends and family. Stacy is also one of the nutritionists who runs our Guided Reboot programs.

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