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Is sushi a healthy lunch?

Nigiri on chopsticks with sushi in the background

Q Is sushi a healthy option for lunch? I have it most days because I always thought it was a healthy choice, but my friends have said that because it is high in carbs, it’s not a good choice.

A Sushi can be a good option when you need lunch or a snack on the run. The type of sushi you buy and how much you end up eating is, however, something to consider.

Sushi, being rice based, is a carb-rich lunch option but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, particularly if you are an active person. Go for brown rice over white, where available, to get more fibre.

And, if you prefer to have a lighter lunch, that’s lower in carbohydrate, either have just a few sushi rolls, with a portion of edamame beans or seaweed salad on the side, or the ‘summer’ rice paper rolls that are available at some sushi stores.

It can be easy to eat more sushi than you need, if you opt for the standard eight pieces in a box option, so if you find you’re only eating all eight pieces to avoid wasting them – go for a snack-sized box or pick your own. A pack of eight sushi pieces is higher in energy than you might realise, ranging from around 1600kJ (380kcals) for teriyaki chicken to 2400kJ (570kcals) for salmon and avocado.

Filling-wise, despite being higher in kJ (kcals), salmon is a great choice because it provides omega-3 fats. Options with avocado and veg are also good. Limit the amount of tempura-battered fillings, especially if this is something you have quite often. Sushi does lack in the vege department, so it is a good idea to mix things up during the week.

Instead of having sushi every day, go for vege-based soups and salads to balance things out. When you have sushi for lunch, you will also need to have extra veg for a snack or at dinner to get your minimum three handfuls of veg in a day (ideally more).

Sodium is important to be mindful of when you are having sushi, too. Some of the fillings are cooked in soy or teriyaki sauce and 1 teaspoon of soy sauce (5g) has a whopping 340mg of sodium. Adults are recommended to limit total sodium to 2000mg/day, and for children the number is even less.

First published: Jan 2020

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