Japanese sushi is a staple cuisine that has been consumed by the Japanese and some non-Japanese for more than 200 years. Sushi is a form of food preparation with its origin in Japan. It consists of cooked vinegared rice or sushi-meshi combined with other ingredients like raw seafood, topical fruits, and vegetables. According to scientists, it is due to the consumption of this food that the Japanese are some of the healthiest people globally. Outside Japan, Sushi is the most popular Japanese dish. It is very common in special occasions or celebrations.
Types of Japanese sushi
There different types of this Japanese dish. The most popular among them are:
This comprises of a small balls of rice with shellfish or other fish types on top. It is available in different varieties including shrimp, squid, fried eggs, tuna, eel and octopus.
This is pressed sushi. Fish is usually pressed into sushi rice using a wooden box.
This is prepared by filling seafood in small cups of dried seaweed and sushi rice. Common varieties of gunkan include sea urchin combined with fish eggs.
This is made of hand rolls which are cons made using nori seaweed and later filled with seafood, vegetables and sushi rice.
This is made by rolling seafood and sushi rice in dried sheets of seaweed. Sushi rolls have different varieties in terms of thickness and ingredients.
This is a Japanese dish where mushrooms, vegetables and seafood are spread over the sushi rice. This can look like seafood domburi only that sushi rice is used in Chirashi while unseasoned rice is used in domburi.
Inari refers to inexpensive, simple sushi. It is made by filling sushi rice into bags of aburaage or deep fried tofu.
Why is Japanese sushi so healthy?
To answer this question, it is important to consider the ingredients of this Japanese cuisine and their health benefits.
Sushi rice is made of premium grade, white, short grain, Japanese rice, sushi seasoning and water. Sushi is normally seasoning that is made of rice vinegar, salt and sugar. This rice supplies energy and protein to the body. It has been used in treating digestive disorders by naturopaths for a long time. It has also been used in relieving diarrhoea.
On average, every individual in Japan consumes about 100 grams of raw fish daily in form of sushi, sashimi or tempura. Raw fish supplies the body with omega-3 fatty acids. These are linked to improved circulation and heart protection. Sushi grade fish also has high amount of vitamin B12. This vitamin is essential for maintaining and building cells as well as supplying the body with iodine. Basically, this is one of the major reasons why sushi is among the healthiest Japanese cuisines.
Wasabi refers to the green paste that is usually served with Japanese sushi. To the Japanese, wasabi is the equivalent of the English mustard. It cleanses the palate. It also has compounds known as the isothiocyanates. These help in the prevention of tooth decay. It also helps in the prevention of blood clots and cancer when consumed regularly.
This is a major ingredient of sushi in Japan. It is usually served in large amounts in this cuisine and it is used to add flavour. In sushi, seaweed sheets are used to wrap vegetables and rice forming a mini-parcel. Seaweed has iodine in high amounts and this enhances thyroid health. It also has other minerals like copper, iron, calcium and magnesium.
Rice vinegar has 20 types of amino acids. Nine of them are essential amino acids because the human body cannot create them from the other compounds. Among the health benefits of rice vinegar include:
- Killing bacteria like streptococcus and salmonella
- Reducing blood pressure
- Aiding in digestion
- Boosting the immune system
- Increasing nutrients absorption in the body
- Lowering glucose levels
- Clearing up the infections of the urinary tract
- Reducing blood sugar
- Aiding in the relief of sunburn and insect stings and pain
- Reducing the formation of cholesterol in the body
- Neutralizing free radicals in the body which can damage cells leading to degeneration and aging
Sushi is made using different types of vegetables. Some of them include carrots, cucumbers, spinach and kampyo gourd strips. Although Nori is basically an alga, it is included in this category as a sea vegetable. These vegetables are rich in minerals and vitamins. They also have high fibre content. They have been proven effective in protecting the body against cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes due to their high levels of phytochemicals. These vegetables have different types of phytochemicals including pholyphenols which are strong antioxidants that eliminate free radicals that cause diseases like cancer from the body. Vegetables like carrots also have carotenoids which are anti-cancer agents.
Ginger is usually consumed after swallowing sushi. It helps in cleansing the pallet. Ginger has numerous health benefits. For instance, it aids in digestion by stimulating saliva production. It also helps in the treatment of nausea that is induced by morning sickness, chemotherapy and seasickness. Ginger has been proven effective in providing relief for symptoms like stomach upset, cold sweats and dizziness.
Major health benefits of Japanese sushi
When considering the health benefits of sushi, it is important to consider it as a dish rather than single ingredients. If you are generally a health conscious person, you want to know what exactly makes this Japanese cuisine a healthy option for you. On the basis of its ingredients, their health values and benefits, as well as recent studies, sushi has the following health benefits:
- It helps in the prevention of heart attacks, clogged arteries and strokes
- It helps in lowering blood pressure
- It aids in enhancing blood circulation
- It boosts the immune system
- It helps in preventing cancer
- It helps in improving colon health and digestion
- It boosts the ability of the body to function properly while creating new cells
- Ingredients like seaweed wrap help with hormone regulation
- It boosts metabolism due to its high protein amount
Basically, sushi is a popular Japanese cuisine with numerous health benefits. Although it is available in high street food stores making it lunchtime favourite for some office workers, it provides more than a tasty lunch. However, to enjoy the full health benefits of the Japanese sushi, stick to the traditional sushi.