• Hidden Sushi Ingredients Exposed

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    Many restaurants who don't make their own seaweed salads, order it in bulk from distribution companies who then deliver it pre-made to restaurants. As people try to eat more nutritiously and add fish rich in omega-3 to their diets, sushi continues to grow in popularity. The compact little rolls certainly look nutritious – rice, fish, veggies – but how healthy is it to eat sushi?

    By Dr. Mercola

    Most people regard sushi as a healthful choice when eating out, or even when looking for a quick take-out option, as ready-made sushi is now widely available in grocery stores.

    Obviously, if you order certain sushi rolls that are deep-fried, you’re probably already aware that not everything on the menu at your favorite Asian restaurant is actually healthy.

    But what may come as a surprise – even to the most health-conscious sushi lovers – are the potentially dangerous ingredients hidden in even seemingly excellent choices – like seaweed salad, wasabi, or sushi ginger.

    Dangerous Ingredients Lurking in 8 Popular Sushi Dishes

    A revealing report1 by Andrea Donsky, founder of NaturallySavvy, has exposed the many not-so-healthy ingredients found in popular Asian foods.

    1. Seaweed Salad

    Seaweed is an excellent source of iodine, vitamins, and minerals, provided it comes from clean, non-polluted waters. But the seaweed salad sold at many sushi restaurants comes pre-made in bulk from distribution companies and may contain:

    • High-fructose corn syrup
    • Vegetable oil
    • Hydrolyzed protein (which contains monosodium glutamate or MSG)
    • Artificial color, such as yellow #4 and blue #1
    • Genetically modified (GM) ingredients

    A fairly surefire sign that your favorite sushi salad contains some of these “pre-packaged” ingredients is an unnaturally bright green color. You can also ask the restaurant directly if it makes its own seaweed salad.

    2. Ginger

    Ginger has phenomenal health benefits for conditions ranging from nausea and arthritis pain to heart health and asthma. Unfortunately, the pickled ginger often served alongside sushi is often doctored-up with some dangerous additives, including:

    • Monosodium glutamate
    • Aspartame
    • Potassium sorbate (a preservative)
    • Artificial colors, including red #40, which is linked to hyperactivity in children (if the ginger looks pink)

    3. Wasabi

    The bright green Japanese mustard known as wasabi has anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-platelet, and, potentially, anti-cancer effects. However, this is referring to authentic wasabi (the kind that comes from the wasabia japonica root or rhizome).

    Authentic wasabi is extremely hard to come by, even in Japan, and it’s estimated that only 5 percent of restaurants in Japan and only very high-end restaurants in the US2 serve the real deal. So what is that green paste being served with your sushi? Most likely a combination of horseradish, Chinese mustard, and green food coloring. The featured report found the following in wasabi:

    • Artificial flavors
    • Artificial colors
    • Potential GM ingredients (corn and soy)

    A better alternative is to look for “wasabi” that’s made from only horseradish, spirulina, and turmeric, which is likely to be far healthier than the wasabi imposters being sold at most sushi restaurants.

    4. Sesame Seeds

    That’s right… even sesame seeds may contain hidden ingredients! While most sushi restaurants use plain toasted sesame seeds in their dishes, there are some flavored sesame seeds on the market that also contain:

    • Artificial colors
    • Artificial sweeteners (sucralose)

    5. Soy Sauce

    The soy sauce served alongside your sushi also likely contains additives you’re far better off avoiding, including:

    • Hydrolyzed soy protein (MSG)
    • GM ingredients (soy and con)
    • Corn syrup
    • Potassium sorbate (preservative)
    • Caramel color (certain types of which may form potentially carcinogenic byproducts)

    6. Rice

    The rice used on sushi rolls may also contain hidden ingredients used to make it sweeter. The featured report revealed sushi rice may contain:

    • High-fructose corn syrup
    • Aspartame

    7. Imitation Crab

    Imitation crab meat may be made from Golden Threadfin Bream, a fish facing extinction, and that’s not all. It may also contain additives including:

    • Monosodium glutamate
    • Artificial flavor

    8. Fish Roe (Seasoned Caviar)

    The orange-colored fish eggs often served with sushi dishes are also commonly full of additives like those found in other Asian foods. Among them:

    • Monosodium glutamate
    • High-fructose corn syrup
    • Artificial color (yellow #6)

    Sushi Tuna Is Typically High in Mercury

    Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and other agricultural chemicals that wind up in the environment. Fish has always been the best source for the animal-based omega-3 fats EPA and DHA, but as levels of pollution have increased, this health treasure of a food has become less and less viable as a primary source of beneficial fats.

    This is particularly true for tuna, which tends to be a higher mercury fish. One study from the U.S. Geological Survey found that ALL tuna tested contained fairly high amounts of mercury. The contamination may be even worse in restaurants, again confirming that eating restaurant tuna is a risky proposition.

    Further, according to a separate study, toxicological testing revealed that tuna sold in restaurants actually contained higher amounts of mercury than the store-bought variety.4 The reason is that restaurants tend to favor certain species of tuna, such as bluefin akami and bigeye tuna, which had significantly higher levels of mercury than bluefin toro and yellowfin tuna. Unfortunately, mercury tends to accumulate to a greater degree in muscle than in fat, rendering these highly prized, leaner species of tuna more susceptible to high contamination.

    Since sushi ingredients get rolled up into such tiny packages, it's easy to think you're eating a tiny amount of calories and fat. One plain tuna roll can have less than 200 calories, but add in embellishments like mayonnaise, fried tempura bits, or cream cheese, and you've got yourself one concentrated bundle of fat and calories. Eating uncooked fish can expose you to bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Roundworm, for example, is a threadlike parasite that can burrow into the stomach and cause painful symptoms that mimic appendicitis. Some kinds of sushi rolls include uncooked fish, but safe and reputable chefs use only fish that has been frozen. The deep freeze will kill off parasites, rendering the fish safer to consume. The open waters of rivers, lakes, and the sea expose fish to mercury, a known neurotoxin. When we, in turn, eat those fish, some of the mercury transfers to our bodies.


    Staff Writer

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