Your Guide to Sushi

Your Guide to Sushi

14 Jan 2014

Whether you’re hooked on hand rolls or mad about tempura, make sure you’re choosing the right option – not a calorie bomb – with this guide from nutritionist Kathleen Alleaume

Salmon Sashimi 
6 pieces = 592kJ (141 cal), 5g fat

Sashimi is low in calories and packs a protein punch. And it has bountiful skin-loving Omega-3 fatty acids that make salmon the ultimate beauty food. Bonus: Research shows that fish eaters consume 11 per cent less food at their next meal than those who eat beef. Experts say it’s due to fish protein taking longer to digest.  Team with a small bowl of udon noodles and seaweed salad (a good source of iodine) for a complete meal.

Fried Chicken and Avocado roll
1 roll = 1350kJ (321 cal), 14g fat
Although avocado makes a great addition to any roll, thanks to its specific type of healthy fat, it’s teamed with pieces of deep-fried chicken schnitzel and mayo, which adds artery-clogging fats – not for anyone watching their waistline. Choose Teriyaki chicken instead and ditch the mayo.

1 plate = 612kJ (146 cal), 7g fat
This filling side dish, edamame (aka green soybeans) has a whopping 13.5g of protein. Even though it may appear high in fat – it’s the good kind. Other perks include fibre, which keeps your intestines clean and in tip top shape. Just ask them to hold the salt. 

Cucumber Roll
1 roll = 570 kJ (135 cal), less than 1g fat
Extremely low in fat, but high in hydrating water content, makes cucumber a low-calorie option. They also contain caffeic acid – an antioxidant which can be helpful in counteracting water retention – hence reduce bloating. However, the white rice far outweighs the ratio of cucumber. So for a balanced meal, add some protein and veg, such as sashimi, edemame, tofu or salad.

Prawn Nigiri
2 pieces = 300kJ (72 cal), less than 1g fat
Although prawn lacks the Omega-3 potency, it offers pure protein with little risk of mercury and other heavy metals. Prawns are also packed with Vitamin D, which is found only in a few foods naturally and is needed by our bodies to absorb bone-strengthening calcium. To boost your vitamin and fibre intake, pair this dish with a plate of salad.

Spicy Tuna Roll
1 roll = 1930kJ, 9g of fat
When you see “spicy” it’s code for mayonnaise laced with hot sauce or chili oil, adding unnecessary calories to an otherwise reliable roll.  Save at least 140 calories by opting for plain tuna, which is rich in healthy fats and provides an excellent source of lean protein.

Prawn Tempura Roll
1 roll = 1002kJ (238 cal), 5.6g fat
Tempura is just a fancy way of indicating that the food has been fried – hence dripping in oil and contains more calories than a Mars bar. Stay on the safe side of seafood by choosing non-battered varieties.

Top tips
- Two or three sushi rolls is a good size for a meal. Aim for a total of less than 2500 kJ (600 cal), or 1700 kJ (400 cal) if you’re trying to lose weight.
- Slash the salt. Just one little ‘fish’ of soy sauce can add about 300 mg of sodium to your meals, so four fish equals half your sodium intake for the day. Instead, use wasabi (a green horseradish paste) or pickled ginger for extra flavour.
- Stody sushi white rice can be up to 75 per cent of the dish and has considerable amounts of sugar added to it for flavouring – so make sure you watch your portion size.
- Make the switch. Sushi rolls and nigiri sushi rely on rice to fill you up. Thankfully, most sushi bars now offer brown rice – an unrefined variety which contains more nutrients such as magnesium and Vitamins B1 and B3. Plus, its lower glycemic index (GI) stabilises blood sugar levels, staving off that 3pm slump. 

INFO: Kathleen Alleaume is a nutritionist and founder of The Right Balance