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Sushi Roll Orders Approved by Nutritionists

sushi and sashimi

By Michael Martin

Sushi has a justified rep for one of the healthiest options for eating out: Fish is high in protein and brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids.

But the raw-fish bar also has as many potential pitfalls as a game of Frogger. Menus can be light on descriptions, so fried batters, junky carbs, mayo-based sauces, even misleadingly high-cal salad dressings can find their way onto your plate — and they may not even taste indulgent. We asked top diet experts about what they order at sushi restaurants, so you can make choices that are both savory and smart (and you can make your cheat day a conscious one).

Cucumber Roll (on Brown Rice) with Edamame and Miso Soup

“I often enjoy one sushi roll (wrapped in brown rice if possible; I try to avoid menu items that say “spicy” or “crunchy” or are served with sauce), 1/2 cup of steamed edamame, and one cup of miso soup. Some of my favorites are a rainbow roll, salmon-and-avocado roll, or cucumber roll.” Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, author of Eat Right When Time is Tight

edamame

Edamame and Salmon Sashimi

“When I go out for sushi, I love to share edamame with whomever else I am eating with. I always get a salad to start, but dressing on the side (the ginger dressing tends to be high in calories). For the main meal, I stick to salmon sashimi. It’s packed with omega-3’s, and by ditching the rice you save on a ton of calories and carbs. If I’m still hungry, I’ll order a side of vegetables to go with it, or share half of a cucumber-avocado roll if the restaurant makes it with brown rice.” Ilyse Schapiro MS, RD, CDN

Salmon-Avocado Roll (on Brown Rice) and Seaweed Salad

“My go-to roll is a brown-rice salmon avocado roll. Packed with fiber, protein and heart-healthy fats, this one is delicious and satisfying. Pile on the pickled ginger and wasabi for extra flavor, and skip the spicy mayo sauce to keep calories in check. Instead of ordering two rolls (as some do when out), start with a seaweed salad or a side of steamed edamame or Japanese vegetables (not tempura). Finish with tea. Sipping a cup of green tea is the perfect way to close a sushi meal instead of dessert.” Marisa Moore, MBA RDN LD

“I like the salmon-avocado roll, which has omega-3 fats, tastes rich and creamy and is very satisfying and filling. I generally pair it with a seaweed salad because these greens are some of the richest sources of minerals of all vegetables. Plus, they are very filling and low-calorie. I’ll also have some edamame because soybeans are a good source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals.” Rebecca Scritchfield, RDN, a Washington D.C. based dietitian nutritionist

Various Types of Sashimi

“Sushi is a pretty low-calorie food, as long as it isn't the fried rolls or rolls with tempura in them. So most things at a sushi bar are pretty healthy and low-calorie. Raw fish is the 'best' because there are no added calories. Without rice (sashimi) is even 'better'. On the other hand, having some white rice would be a good way to balance out the meal.” Dianne Rishikof, MS, RDN, LDN

“Personally, I think the concept of sushi has become so Americanized/Westernized to appeal to the masses, it's really gotten away from tradition. Some are loaded with calories and include cream cheese and fried foods. My favorite is to use the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) concept and stick to sashimi: plain pieces of fish with a variety of interesting a la carte dishes shared amongst friends. Two examples of those dishes might be tuna carpaccio, which is tuna sashimi topped with jalapeños, vinaigrette and green onions; or yellowtail and salmon served with ponzu sauce and cilantro.” Jennifer Neily, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Rainbow Roll (on Brown Rice)

“When eating sushi, I try to stay away from tempura rolls or rolls with mayo or cream cheese in it. The calories and amount of saturated fat in these rolls add up very quickly. Sushi is delicious on its own without being fried! When the option is available, I choose brown rice, which has more fiber, manganese, selenium and magnesium compared to white rice. The fiber is important for maintaining healthy digestion and regular bowel movements. Rolls with salmon and tuna are excellent choices since they are lower in calorie and rich in protein and heart-healthy omega-3s. My favorite rolls are the rainbow roll, salmon avocado roll and the California roll. While I love spicy tuna and eel rolls, I try to limit how frequently I order them since the spicy sauce is typically made with a heavy mayo, and eel rolls are served in a sweet brown-sugar sauce.” Gina Consalvo, MA, RD, LDN, CDE, NCC

One Roll (on Brown Rice) and Naruto Rolls or Sashimi

“We’re big fans of the naruto roll at Foodtrainers. It’s a sushi roll wrapped in cucumber, generally rice-less. It’s a little more exciting than sashimi (which is totally Foodtrainers-approved), but less of a carb-fest than regular maki rolls. For clients we suggest having one roll with brown rice and then naruto-style rolls or sashimi. Another option is the handroll (salmon/avocado is a favorite) requested with “less rice”. We also generally bring our own packets of gluten-free tamari.” — Lauren Slayton, MS RD, Food Trainers NYC

avocado roll

Avocado Roll (on Brown Rice)

“Brown-rice avocado roll is a great option, because the brown rice is high in fiber and the avocado is a good source of monounsaturated fats. They’re low calorie (on average, 140 per 6 pieces). The brown rice salmon-and-avocado roll is also healthy, because the salmon is high in omega-3s and the avocado is high in monounsaturated fats. It’s a higher-calorie option, but it’s still only 300 calories for an average of 6 pieces. This option is also high in vitamins. Plus, it’s a great source of potassium, folate, niacin, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin E and vitamin C.” Jim Moore, RD, ACSM Health Fitness Specialist

Miso Soup with a Veggie Roll and Sashimi

“My recommendation is miso soup (it’s low in calories and warming) or green salad with the dressing on the side, one order of brown rice sushi roll (either veggie or fish-and-veggie, not fried), and several pieces of fish. Edamame is always a good starter, and is high in protein making it especially satisfying. You don’t want to get bogged down with too many rolls as the carb calories can add up quickly. Instead, choose mostly veggies and fish – the combo of protein and carbs help satiate hunger.” Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Greek Yogurt Kitchen: More Than 130 Delicious, Healthy Recipes for Every Meal of the Day

seaweed salad

Salmon or Tuna Sashimi with Seaweed Salad

“I usually enjoy salmon or tuna sashimi with a seaweed salad. The high omega-3 content of the salmon and tuna help reduce inflammation in cell membranes. This helps stimulate fat-burning hormones for fat loss and reduce sugar cravings, and leads to better hormone communication. The omega-3s are also essential for neurons to boost mental acuity. Seaweed’s high iodine content helps improve thyroid function, which helps boost the metabolism.” Miriam Jacobson, RD, CDN

Avocado Roll with Edamame

“My number one piece of advice to anyone ordering sushi — especially for their children — is to order it cooked to minimize the risk of getting sick. If you insist on sushi made with raw fish, make sure it's frozen first to reduce the risk of illness caused by a parasite that may lurk in the fish. Any veggie roll is healthy, but avocado is more filling because of the fat. Rolls made with veggies like cucumber and carrots are good, although without a source of protein, the person may feel hungry. I suggest pairing edamame with a veggie roll for a source of plant protein, which will fill you up and balance out the meal. Edamame has high-quality protein with all the amino acids your body needs. Go light on sauce, such as soy sauce, though, because it's loaded with sodium.” Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN



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