As is true with everything fishy, you have to watch out for mercury, and a recent study in the Journal of Risk Research suggests that regularly eating sushi can post a significant risk to people from increased mercury exposure. It’s disheartening that any benefit you may get from eating a “healthy protein” like fish might be negated by the negative effects of mercury. So do you need to put down the chopsticks? Not necessarily. But there are a few ways to make sure your sushi is good for you. Because besides mercury, sushi can go bad in a hurry; when you start frying the fish or adding cream cheese, its “healthy” designation gets revoked. Read on for ways to make your next sushi excursion healthy, from mercury and beyond. – By Erin Whitehead
Plan Before You Go
If you’re heading to a sushi restaurant, check out the list of fish highest in mercury and make notes on what to order and what to avoid. Salmon, shrimp, squid, crab, and scallops are all considered lower in mercury according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Tuna, sea bass, swordfish, and mackerel are considered high in mercury. Plus, sushi menus can be complicated, so it doesn’t hurt to check out the offerings beforehand so you can do some research on healthy items.
In the study, tuna sashimi was found to contain the highest levels of methylmercury in fish sushi based on U.S. samples. If you eat fish or fish-sushi less than monthly, choosing fish based on mercury content is probably not that important, researchers say. But if you eat it frequently (more than weekly), you should choose your fish wisely. If you’re in that category, researchers recommend you skip tuna and opt for salmon instead.
Skip The Rolls
If you’re looking to cut calories, opt out of rolls and go for sashimi or nigiri. Because sashimi is just a strip of raw fish and nigiri is raw fish over rice, you’re avoiding all of the extra calories rolls bring.
If you’re going for rolls, go heavier on the veggies and light on the rice. Likewise, go easy on anything fried or stuffed with cream cheese.
Go For Brown
Whether you’re making sushi yourself or going out for it, ask for brown rice instead of the white for extra whole grain bang for your nutritional buck. While you’re at it, you can request that they go light on rice altogether.
Make Your Own
A recent news article showed that fish are often mislabeled, with sushi restaurants being the most likely offenders. Grocery stores were the most likely to sell fish honestly, so making your own sushi is one of the best ways to make sure your fish is what you want it to be.
Wasabi isn’t just there for looking pretty, it can add a kick with health benefits! According to one wasabi expert, wasabi suppresses a bacterium responsible for many stomach-related diseases, such as gastric inflammation and maybe even stomach cancer. Some have promoted it as a means to prevent food poisoning, which is one of the reasons it’s served with raw fish. So go for the wasabi if you can handle the heat!