Before we take a close look at the health benefits of Sushi, it is important to put the subject in its proper context. According to the latest life expectancy data (2013) compiled by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Japanese have the second longest lifespan of any country in the world, with Japanese men living an average of 82 years and Japanese women living an average of 87.2 years. This is considerably longer than the worldwide average lifespan for men and women, 68.5 years and 73.5 years respectively. Moreover, Japanese men and women both live about five years longer on average than their American counterparts. the Japanese also have one of the lowest rates of cardiovascular disease in the world, as well as one of the lowest rates of obesity. Is this good fortune for the Japanese more attributable to good genetics or to the traditional Japanese diet?
To answer this question, it is interesting to look at the average lifespan of Americans with 100 percent Japanese heritage but who have grown up with the food culture of United States their entire lives. Do these Japanese Americans have a longer lifespan on average that other Americans? According to the United States centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), they do not. This would suggest that the traditional Japanese diet of Sushi, Nori, and Fresh Vegetables contributes more to their longer than average lifespan and overall remarkable health statistics. Considering the facts above, it seems that Americans would do well to replace at least some of their American cuisine with Japanese cuisine. Below, you will find a discussion of the various health benefits of Sushi. Please note that for the purpose of this article, the more general and Americanized vernacular meaning of the word "SUSHI" will be used, not the more narrow Japanese definition of "SUSHI" meaning flavored rice. Now let's take a look at the health benefits of each of the ingredients found in Sushi:
Not only is fish a high quality protein, it is loaded with Omega-3. Other seafood commonly found in Sushi such as Shrimp, Crab, Fish Roe (eggs), and Uni (raw sea urchin gonads) also contains very high quantities of Omega-3. While the health benefits of O
omega-3 are manifold, most Americans do not get enough of this vital nutrient in their diet. Omega-3 reduces your likelihood of developing blood clots and improves heart Arrhythmias. If you have joint pain due to Osteoarthritis or chronic system wide inflammation, increasing your Omega-s can often clear this up. Omega-3, especially DHA, is brain food. It helps improve your memory, increase your cognitive abilities, reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease, and ward off general dementia in the elderly. Those suffering from depression and ADHD also see significant improvement by increasing the Omega-3 in their diet. Asthma sufferers often see their symptoms subside when they eat or take Omega-3. Increasing Omega-3 consumption helps regulate blood sugar levels too. This is a nutrient that almost every American should be getting more of and Sushi in one of the best sources for it. Unlike vegetarian sources of Omega-3 such as Flaxseed and Walnuts, the form of Omega-s found in fish and seafood is EPA and DHA. These forms can be immediately and directly utilized by the human body whereas the ALA form of Omega-3 found in plants must be converted to EPA or DHA before it can be utilized. Unfortunately, the conversion rate of ALA is only about 10 percent in a young healthy person and lower in older people and/or those with health issues. In other words, fish and seafood packs a bigger Omega-3 punch than any plant based food.
Nori is the paper this seaweed that Sushi rolls are wrapped in. As a Red Algae from the genus Porphyra, Nori is one of the best sources for easily digestible Iodine. For those with metabolic issues and/or Thyroid issues, Nori can be a godsend as Iodine helps build the hormones produced by the Thyroid. Nori is also loaded with the natural form of A, B, and C vitamins plus trace minerals that is hard to get in other foods. It has more iron that beef and more calcium than cheese or milk.
Pickled Ginger is often used a s a flavor enhanced with Sushi and as a palate cleanser between different types of Sushi. It aids in digestion, improves circulation, and is an excellent immune system booster during flu season.
Wasabi is the hot green goo that often accompanies a plate of Sushi. It tastes a lot like hot Horseradish but real Japanese Wasabi is a different species of plant. Most people don't realize that Wasabi is in the Brassica plant family, and thus is related to Kales, Cabbages, and Broccoli. As such it offers many of the same health benefits as these green superfoods. It contains more vitamin C than orange juice. Wasabi helps the liver detoxify the body. It is also known to have powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. Recent evidence has shown that Wasabi may even help the body destroy cancerous cells. Add Wasabi to your list of superfoods.
While some people don't view white rice as a health food, it is certainly a healthier option than most forms of pasta and bread. It is also gluten-free for those with gluten sensitivity. Some forms of rice, such as Basmati rice, have a lower glycemic index. This is something to keep in mind if you make your own Sushi at home. Sushi making kits are available here.
Rice Vinegar is added to the rice in Sushi. It aids in digestion and will help clear up various skin issues. when rice vinegar is prepared in the traditional way, it contains beneficial probiotics.
Sushi often has small pieces of healthy vegetables like Avocado, Carrot, and Cucumber. Of course, vegetables are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Shiitake mushrooms often add Umami to vegetable Sushi rolls. They are one of the only natural sources for vitamin D. Moreover, the vitamin D in Shiitake mushrooms can be utilized by the body much more easily than the artificially produced vitamin D found in supplements and fortified foods. Shiitake mushrooms are also known to boost the immune system.
Sushi is a low-calorie super nutritious dish. Health-conscious Americans would do well to take a chapter from Japanese culture and eat more of this delicious and healthy food. Besides, Sushi is one of the prettiest foods you'll ever eat and this elevates one's mood automatically. The health benefits of Sushi can be increased by doing the following:
1. Use soy sauce sparingly and/or use the low-salt variety.
2. Avoid eating large fish like blue-fin Tuna that have more Mercury and PCB's built up in their tissues. Instead, choose smaller fish like Mackerel that have far less toxins and more omega-3.
3. Avoid or minimize your consumption of deep-fried tempura. Eat more vegetarian rolls instead or some crunchy Nori chips on the side.
4. use sauces containing sugars or mayonnaise sparingly. Reach for more Ginger and Wasabi instead.