Can sushi make you smarter? Can this food make you healthier? Thanks to the health benefits of sushi, you can enjoy improved brain function and reduce your risk for many diseases by eating this Japanese food.
Health Benefits of Sushi
The main ingredients that top sushi, called neta, are mostly healthy, such as rice, fish, seafood and vegetables.
Seafood toppings, particularly fish, are packed with healthy aspects. Fish oil, for example, contains elements that help reduce pain and inflammation, improve cardiovascular health and lower your risk for strokes and heart attacks. Some research suggests that fish oil can improve brain function and lessen symptoms of depression (Mayo Clinic, 2011).
The presence of Omega-3 fatty acids in fish is essential to the human body. These acids, found in salmon, tuna, sardines, oysters, crab and shrimp, help lower blood pressure, prevent arthritis and promote healthy brain activity (American Heart Association, 2011).
The vegetables common in sushi, like cucumber and avocado, add to the health benefits. Cucumbers are filled with vitamin C and caffeic acid, which helps reduce swelling and soothe skin issues. Avocados help alleviate unwanted inflammation, thanks to the phytosterols, antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids present.
Shari, the rice used in making sushi, isn’t as healthy as brown rice, though it’s still low in fat and free of sodium. The rice provides your body with a lot of carbohydrates, which serve as fuel. The vinegar added in shari promotes cell metabolism.
Nori: The Key to Healthy Sushi
Seaweed used in sushi, called nori, is a virtually fat-free source of minerals found in the ocean. This low calorie food contains high amounts of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, iron, iodine and sodium. Proteins and carbohydrates are found in nori as well, and vitamins A, B1, C and E are also part of seaweed.
Some seaweed is collected wild for consumption, while nori is often cultivated in Japan. Cultivated nori is still rather healthy, boasting high levels of vitamin A and essential proteins.
Nori isn’t often found in inarizushi and oshizushi styles of sushi, while it’s a major component in sushi rolls. Nori can also be cut into strips and toasted into crispy chips for garnishes or snacks.