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Sushi & Sashimi

I eat a whole lot of sushi, wasabi and soy sauce. Is this healthy? Are wasabi and soy sauce fattening?

Raw foods (such as your sushi, often made of raw fish) are generally the best for preserving enzymes and other nutrients, as long as the foods are fresh. Time, heat, freezing, microwaving and so on destroy those nutrients in a hurry. Nowadays, the main concern with raw foods is bacterial. Not all foods at the sushi bar are raw, and those that are tend to be well controlled (that is, free from harmful bacteria), as a restaurant's reputation can be blown pretty easily with a mishap.

Some of the foods obtained at sushi bars are rolled in white rice, which is a pure starch that converts to sugar quickly, has little fiber and has most nutrients removed. Try to go heavier on the fish (sushi style) and lighter on the rolls.

The "raw is okay" edict does not extend to oysters, in my opinion. Oysters, which sit in mucky beds on the bottom of bodies of water of often-questionable quality, are a gamble. Tread carefully where those are concerned, if you must eat them at all.

Soy sauce is a fermented soy product that should offer few problems in the average amounts used. The salt in there is rarely a problem, and it certainly isn't fattening. Ditto for wasabi, Japanese horseradish.

Wasabi comes from the root of the plant wasabia japonicum and is extremely hot. Because it's so hot, you really can't take enough in to make a difference calorie-wise, so that's rarely a factor in eating it.

Unfortunately, the stuff is very hard to grow, and improperly preparing it readily breaks down the hot, spicy nature. So "wasabi" in much of Japanese cuisine in America is standard horseradish that has been treated to a bath of food coloring. If that spice bothers you, it's possible that you're just allergic to dye (or horseradish).

Good health,
A.N. Spreen, M.D.