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Is Eating Sushi Healthy? Health Experts Speak Up!

Whenever we watch Korean dramas or Japanese series, we often noticed how most Asians love eating sushi. In fact, sushi has arguably become one of their favorite dishes, and it also provides many options like maki rolls, nigiri, and sashimi for variation.

And it seems not only the Asians love to eat raw fish but the rest of the world too. In fact, our eyes light up with joy whenever we see fresh ceviche or tuna tartare served on the table.

Eating raw fish has become a daily integral part of our lives that our diet doesn’t seem complete without it. But how often should you eat raw fish, really? Is it really healthy as we all assume? These health experts reveal how sushi can be both good or bad for our health.

Raw Fish Nutritional Value

According to Cynthia Sass, MPH, RD, most fish you found in the ocean like salmon, tuna, mackerel, and sardines are packed with omega-3 fatty acids that are good for our heart. Aside from that, Sass claims it helps support our brain health and regulates our blood sugar to prevent our risks of acquiring type 2 Diabetes.

Most fish are also loaded with protein, so Sass recommends eating fish is an ideal post-workout meal to help your muscles heal and recover after you exercise. Sass also added that eating the fish raw is one of the best ways to gain the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids since it’s less processed than other meals.

Most fishes found in the ocean are a good source of healthy fats according to health experts.

According to a 2009 study conducted on skipjack tuna, different ways of cooking fish like baking, frying, and microwaving can reduce the healthy fat content of the food. So it’s best practice to eat raw fish once in a while. However, Sass advises her clients to be inquisitive of what they’re eating. She notes that most sushi varieties nowadays are not as healthy as they seem.

Some sushi contains high-calorie ingredients like fried tempura, mayonnaise, and creamy sauces which can give you 500 calories per roll – equivalent to a quarter-pound burger. As much as possible, she recommends eating homemade sushi since the food has undergone less processing than the commercialized ones.

Eating Raw Fish Poses Some Health Risks

While eating raw fish is healthier than cooked ones, Sass reminds everyone that it also poses some risks of health infection – like exposure to bacteria and parasites like tapeworms. According to the data obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bacterial and parasite infections like Diphyllobothrium Latem are common in Asia, Europe, and North America due to the high population of raw fish eaters.

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Sass recommends cooking your fish at an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit to kill all the bacteria and parasites that may have infected the food.

Sass recommends relying on your instincts to determine whether a particular sushi is healthy or not. She says if you’re in a high-risk group and if you notice the establishment is dirty, she recommends you step away from it. But if a particular establishment has A-ratings in health and sanitary aspects, generally good and positive reviews and is entertaining and transparent to their customers, then you can enjoy eating your favorite sushi roll with ease.

The High-risk Group

Sass also reminds people who belong to the high-risk group like babies, young children, some adults who don’t eat raw or undercooked fish, as well as those with compromised immune systems not to consume raw seafood alone. Sass adds that pregnant women should avoid consuming raw fish since it can potentially acquire parasites or bacteria which can compromise the mother and the baby’s health.

Christine Greves, MD, an Orlando-based ob-gyn also advise the pregnant and nursing women to avoid eating raw seafood due to another health complication: exposure to mercury. This mineral can be toxic as it can cause brain damage, vision and hearing problems to the babies. If a pregnant or nursing woman wants to eat fish, Dr. Greves recommends eating fishes with low mercury content like salmon, shrimp, and tilapia, and then have it cooked completely.

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