Many first timers wonder, “is sashimi healthy?” when staring at a few cuts of raw fish. There are not many animal products that can be eaten raw, so it’s no surprise that people question how the raw fish might affect their health. So what are the safety concerns and how healthy is sashimi really?
First, it’s important to note how the fish was caught. Seafood that is caught for the purpose of sashimi-grade eating is caught with the use of a hand-line and not a net. Fish that are caught in the ocean are killed immediately and iced immediately as well. This extends the fish’s shelf life and keeps the fish fresher for longer.
Sashimi is rich in protein
Protein is a very important nutrient for wound healing, tissue repair, and muscle growth. Research shows us that when you eat more protein-rich foods like sashimi, you support appetite control and you experience reduced food cravings. Additionally, protein from fish is ‘complete.’ This means that the fish contains all nine essential amino acids in sufficient concentrations.
Sashimi has lots of omega-3 fatty acids
Omega 3s are healthy fats that regulate inflammation and promote good heart health. According to WebMD, “eating at least two servings a week of fish, particularly fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, appears to reduce the risk of heart disease, particularly sudden cardiac death.”
Calories in sashimi (no rice)
On average, you’ll find that most fish used in sashimi has about 30 to 40 calories (for a one ounce slice of fish). If you’re on a diet, sashimi is definitely lower calorie option that nigiri or maki sushi. And if you’re wondering what’s the lowest calorie option on the sushi menu, it’s usually salmon roe (around 21 calories, 3g of protein and 1g of fat).
Sashimi is rich in essential minerals and vitamins
Generally speaking, most fish supplies plenty of minerals and vitamins, supplying quite a few nutrients to your diet. Considering the nutritional profiles of healthy fish such as tuna, mackerel, salmon sashimi, and roe, it can be seen that raw fish offers good and even high amounts of vitamin B, selenium, magnesium, and vitamin D.
The risks of sashimi
What about seafood allergies when eating sashimi?
According to research, in the USA, an estimated 2.3% of the population has had a seafood allergy. They described symptoms as cramps, abdominal pain, nausea, and dizziness. In severe cases, anaphylaxis occurred.
If the above symptoms happen to you, and you have eaten seafood, you should consult with your doctor before you try eating sashimi. And the allergies won’t just occur from eating raw fish, but cooked fish as well.
Contaminants and pollutants
Unfortunately, some of the seafood you eat might contain high amounts of heavy metals such as mercury. Fish such as swordfish and tuna which are used for sashimi, happen to be particularly high in methylmercury.
One study demonstrated this: Just one piece of tuna sashimi did contain more mercury in it than the human toleration level for adults. Ouch!
On the other hand, there is some fish that is used for sashimi that does contain lower amounts of mercury in them. They are trout, shrimp, and salmon.
Overall, sashimi is healthy for most people, as long as you understand what you’re ordering and where it comes from. Make sure to ask questions about how the fish is sourced. For example, (sustainably sourced) salmon sashimi is healthy — just don’t overdo it.
For more information, here are additional resources: