- Kameron Conley
But Wait...Is Sushi Healthier Than Pizza?
Updated: Sep 7, 2022
You’ve found yourself in yet another food-related debate. Is sushi healthier than pizza?
It’s Friday night. You’re exhausted from the week, the kids are starving and you just can’t bring yourself to turn on the stove again. Take out, anyone?
For many people, Friday is synonymous with Pizza. But is it the best option? At the end of the week when you just can’t cook another thing or do another dish, you still want to feed your family with something that isn’t terrible for them. Your spouse says, “let's get sushi!”
But wait, you think, IS sushi healthier than pizza? We think it can be. With the right choices. Let’s dig in.
What is sushi anyway?
For many people, the idea of sushi comes attached to the concept of accompanying thick sauce, cream cheese, veggies, and proteins fried in batter. Arguably, while some of this is pretty delicious, it is also not so healthy.
But sushi in its truest form consists of raw fish (sometimes cooked fish) and rice (or no rice). These things are staples in a Japanese diet, and part of the reason Japanese people (no big deal) have one of the longest life expectancy rates in the world.
There must be something to this way of eating that is literally giving people more life. What is it?
According to Healthline, sushi was originally a way to preserve and ferment fish. It would be pressed in between rice and seaweed until it was ready to eat. This is obviously not the case anymore as it's most often fresh fish used to make sushi. Does it make it any less healthy?
We don't think so. But whether or not you think sushi is healthier than pizza might completely rely on your perspective.
What does healthy mean to you?
Depending on who you talk to, people often have different ideas of what healthy means to them. Some people believe that eating healthy means eating little to no fat in their food while eating more grains and starches. Others believe that healthy means no grains or simple carbohydrates but eating things that might have more fat in them.
Still, others believe that eating healthy means looking at the time of day you are eating, or the portion size you are consuming. I could continue. But I think you get the point. While there are some hard and fast rules about things that are decidedly "unhealthy" and should be eaten in limited quantities (grease-laden french fries or an extremely high sodium intake for example), for the most part, different peoples' bodies need different things at different times.
This part seems important to consider.
What's healthy about sushi?
Sushi, when chosen carefully, can be quite a healthy meal. Here are a few examples of why:
Omega-3 fatty acids
According to the American Heart Association, Omega-3 fatty acids are an incredible health benefit. Here are some of the ways these "good fats" can help your health:
lower blood pressure
help reduce triglycerides (unhealthy fats)
help to slow the development of plaque in your arteries
Cold water fish eaten twice weekly are a great way to boost your Omega-3 fats intake. Some examples of these types of fish are:
Fortunately, a few of these (namely tuna and salmon) are common choices when eating sushi and thus a great way to increase your Omega-3 consumption.
Ginger and Wasabi
Ginger and wasabi are 2 of the most common "condiments" you will see served with sushi. They usually come in separate piles on the side of the sushi platter, and different people have different ways of including them in the meal. But how are they healthy? Certainly, they do not necessarily make or break the debate of is sushi healthier than pizza? Well? Let's explore.
Sushi usually comes adorned with a lovely fold of pink pickled ginger. While this tradition is most often meant to provide a palate cleanser, the reality is that ginger also provides some stellar health benefits. Another reason thing to consider in this debate which asks, is sushi healthier than pizza?
Ginger is another vote for yes!
There are many evidence-based possible health benefits; here are just a few to consider:
Ginger contains natural oils including gingerol. It has extraordinary anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties
Because of the anti-inflammatory nature of ginger, it has been shown in some cases to help in weight loss by increasing the number of calories burned
Ginger can be extremely helpful to fight nausea in different cases
There is evidence ginger can help lower blood sugars and decrease risk factors for heart disease
Ginger may provide some protection against decreased brain function and Alzheimer's Disease
Ginger is a powerhouse when it comes to all the health benefits it can bring.
And what about wasabi? Also known as Japanese horseradish, the other typical sushi condiment, wasabi, is a cruciferous vegetable that grows along river banks in many Asian countries. It is bright green in color and quite pungent in both smell and taste.
Aside from adding a nice little kick to your sushi meal, it too has proven health benefits to offer! Here are a few to consider.
It may have anti-cancer properties
The flip side of sushi
Can sushi be an unhealthy choice?
While there are many ways to order sushi that can make it a healthy meal choice, there are also lots of things you can choose that make it a less healthy choice. Many western versions of sushi add ingredients like cream cheese and tempura--essentially a batter-fried vegetable or piece of shrimp etc--which can both add a good number of calories to your order.
Here are a few things to consider when perusing your sushi menu.
Many people like to have soy sauce to dunk their sushi in. The truth about soy sauce is that is laden with sodium. It can even taste super salty. If this is something you like to have once in a while, go for it! If you're eating sushi doused in soy sauce multiple times a week, you might want to reconsider.
The more extravagant you get with the "specialty rolls," the more calories you are adding to your sushi order. If you are adding things like spicy mayo, tempura, or avocado, the calories and fats add up fast. Some of that could be considered "good fats" (avocado), but some are decidedly not (any kind of mayo).
Type of fish
Here is a tricky one. Most people will tout the health benefits of any fish. But there are definitely types of fish that are healthier than others. For example, Eel and Yellowtail are known as very fatty fish and therefore can add quite a few calories to a simple sushi order.
But Salmon and Tuna, on the other hand, can be less fatty and come packed with other health benefits as previously discussed. Be choosey about the fish you select in order to keep your order on the healthier end.
So...in the end, is sushi healthier than pizza?
It's an interesting question when you get down to it. Our answer: we think it easily can be.
The fact of the matter is, when you choose to get sushi, you have much more control over what you are ordering. You can choose the most simply fresh slices of raw fish alone or with rice--and have a nutrition-dense, low-calorie, delicious experience.
If you choose a slice of pizza, you have a non-negotiable amount of calories in the bread and the cheese before you even think about any toppings. So in our eyes, is sushi healthier than pizza? It's kind of a no-brainer.
Come on into Underwraps to find out for yourself how delicious healthy can be!