Sushi can have more calories than a Big Mac and fries: dietitian

Kimberly Gillan
Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Grabbing a California roll might seem like a quick, healthy lunch, but a UK dietitian is warning it can be packed with calories.

The thin sliver of vegetables is out-weighed by the white rice component, meaning you're getting a lot of carbs, but not enough vegetables to hit the recommended five a day, according to dietitian Rachel Beller.

In her book Eat To Lose, Eat To Win, Beller says eating large sushi rolls can lead to a calorie overload.

"A typical sushi roll contains 290 to 350 calories and has the carbohydrate equivalent of two-and-a-half to four slices of bread," Beller said.

"So a California roll equals two sandwiches filled with crab sticks, a sliver of avocado and a tiny bit of veg."

One mixed sushi box from Yo Sushi in the UK has 755 calories, which is more than a Big Mac and small fries from McDonald's.

But accredited practising dietitian Kellie Bilinski told ninemsn that even if you ate enough sushi for it to have the same calories as a Big Mac and fries –– it would still be better for you.

"It's a lot healthier, with extra nutrients, such as omega 3s and iodine," she said.

"As long as you're not getting tempura or fried fillings, it would also be much lower in saturated fat."

Beller also said the high carb content and small vegetable and protein content, makes a lot of sushi rank low on the health scale. Adding creamy mayonnaise increases the calorie content, while soy sauce can make it very salty.

But Bilinski, who is a spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, disagrees with Beller's harsh assessment, saying it can be a quick, healthy meal, as long as you limit your portion-size.

"If you bought a larger pack and ate the whole thing, it may well have over a thousand calories," Bilinski said.

"But a 110g sushi roll in Australia would have about 180 calories. If somebody had a couple of California rolls, that would be about all they need."

Bilinski said sushi does have a lot of rice, which would be the equivalent carbohydrate content as a couple of slices of bread.

"Because they are quite small and light, people think they are low in calories, so don't go overboard in how many you have," she said.

"It often has fish in it, which is a source of omega 3 and protein. If you can get brown rice rolls, that is even better."

The main problem with sushi is that it doesn't have a lot of vegetables, so Bilinski said having a side salad will help you get your five serves of vegetables a day.

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