The Dos and Don'ts of Sushi

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Sushi is a favorite food of many, and it just so happens to be one of the healthiest choices around! But there are definitely some diet don'ts on sushi menus. Here's some advice on ordering smart when you go out for sushi.

Sushi Dos

These food options are a definite do:

  • Sashimi. It doesn’t get much healthier than sashimi, which is simply raw fish sliced into thin pieces. Unlike nigiri (more on that below), it doesn’t include any rice. You get all the protein and flavor of the fish, but none of the extra carbs and calories. Two of my favorite kinds of sashimi are salmon and tuna, both of which are great for burning fat (like these other fat-burning foods).
  • Miso soup. It’s always a good idea to start a meal with broth-based soup; studies show this can actually prevent overeating. And miso is perfectthe hot, savory soup is super low in calories and delicious.
  • Edamame. These tasty soybean pods are another great meal starter—they’re high in protein and so satisfying. Plus, shelling them takes some time, which will prevent you from eating too many too fast.
  • Japanese salads. Sushi restaurants often have several low-calorie starter salads on their menus. Look for a sunomono salad, which is mostly sliced cucumbers and rice vinegar. Another good option is oshitashi, a dish made from boiled spinach, sesame seeds, and a bit of sauce. Even your basic dinner salad with ginger dressing is a good choice—just get the dressing on the side!
  • Soy sauce. Flavorful and low in calories. What more could you want in a condiment? It is pretty salty, though; stick with the reduced-sodium version, if they have it.
  • Pickled ginger and wasabi. This is the pretty pink garnish and green stuff served with sushi. Both are practically calorie-free, but watch out: That wasabi packs some heat!

How you eat makes a difference, too. 

  • Ask for "light rice" or brown rice in your nigiri sushi rolls. Nigiri is what most people picture when they think of sushi: A nugget of rice topped with a thin slice of fish. If you order nigiri or sushi rolls, ask your server if they can go light on the rice—it adds up, and this will save you calories and carbs. Or replace white rice with brown rice for extra fiber.
  • Use chopsticks. Unless you’re a pro with chopsticks, using ‘em will slow down your consumption and probably result in your eating less overall. Too bad other cuisines aren't served with chopsticks. (I'm looking at you, Italian food!)  

Sushi Don'ts

  • Tempura. Tempura means something has been battered and fried. So even though a veggie-based dish like tempura veggies sounds light, it's not worth the calorie commitment. Also, watch for rolls with words like “crunch” or “crispy”—that usually means there's tempura inside.
  • Creamy sauces. Sushi restaurants often cram mayonnaise, cream cheese, and other high-fat condiments into specialty rolls. Don’t fall for it! Just because a roll also includes raw salmon and seaweed doesn’t mean it’s good for you. If the menu doesn’t list specifics, ask your server what’s in each roll before ordering!
  • Extra rice. If you’re ordering nigiri or rolls, you really don’t need a bowl of rice. It just adds calories and carbs to your meal. Stick to salads, edamame, and miso soup as your side dishes. Speaking of rice… If you’d rather make Asian food at home, here’s a recipe for cauliflower fried rice!

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