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7 Tips for Ordering Healthy Sushi

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A staple in Japanese culture for centuries, sushi has become popular in the United States and touted for its health benefits. Sushi is high in vitamin E, magnesium, calcium, iron, and antioxidants, and it can be loaded with heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, known for lowering blood pressure and cholesterol. But not all sushi is good for you. Some specialty rolls, appetizers, and other menu items are high in calories, fat and sodium. Use these simple tips to upgrade your sushi order.

1. Take it easy on the soy sauce.

This traditional dipping sauce is pretty much liquid sodium. A tablespoon is loaded with 920 mg of sodium (half of the daily recommended intake for adults). So choose the low-sodium sauce when possible—it has about half as much sodium.

2. Skip imitation meat.

Many items like the popular California roll are made using imitation crab meat, which has tons of sodium. A typical California roll can have as much as 500 calories and 1000 mg of sodium. So stick with rolls that offer the real thing like fresh tuna, salmon, or king crab.

3. Opt for brown rice.

As sushi becomes more and more mainstream, restaurants are starting to offer brown rice in place of white rice for the health-conscious patron. This hearty grain is packed with antioxidants and fiber.

4. Avoid anything crunchy (tempura) or creamy.

Tempura just means that it's deep-fried and loaded with saturated fat. So steer clear of battered dumplings, fish, and popular options like the spider roll (deep-fried soft shell crab). Also, watch out for creamy rolls filled with cream cheese, mayonnaise, or mayo-based sauces. They're packed with calories and fat. Instead, choose fresh or steamed vegetables and rolls with raw fish flavored with low-sodium soy sauce, ginger or wasabi.

5. Eat a seaweed salad.

Low in calories and loaded with nutrients (magnesium, folate, calcium, iodine, and vitamin K), seaweed is a filling and healthy appetizer option.

6. Limit your order.

Rolls are often not viewed as a full meal even though they often have the same amount of calories as your favorite dishes. Order a single roll and a seaweed salad or edamame to keep your calorie count under control.

7. Choose sashimi.

A straight-forward helping of raw fish (no rice or other toppings) is low in calories and gives your body a boost of heart-healthy omega-3s.

Can't decide what to order? Two of our favorite healthy rolls are the Spicy Tuna Roll (290 calories, 11 g fat, 25 g carbs) and the Caterpillar Roll (247 calories, 4 g fat, 27 g carbs).

Tags: Health, Eating Out, Weight Loss