Sushi Secrets

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Sushi bars are the fastest-growing restaurant segment of the ethnic food industry. That's good news for Americans, because if you're in search of a healthy meal, Japanese food fits the bill. Traditional Japanese food is one of the healthiest fares, most often prepared with little oil and features ingredients like tofu, rice, seaweed, noodles, vegetables, and small quantities of fish, chicken, and lean meat. Most sauces are low-fat, and made with a base of broth, soy sauce, or sake. But beware! As sushi becomes more and more mainstream, many rolls are being created to suit the high-fat palette of American diners. Nowadays, cream cheese, tempura flakes, mayonnaise, and deep-fried fish, are popular ingredients in sushi rolls.

With these recent additions, it has become quite easy to walk out having consumed 1,000 calories without even realizing it. Below are some ways you can enjoy eating out at your favorite Japanese restaurant while sticking to The F-Factor Diet.

Here are some of my tips_

1. Start with a soup and salad. Beginning your meal with a miso soup (50 calories) and a house salad with ginger dressing (110 calories), or seaweed salad (110 calories) fills you up and prevents over eating during the main course. Even if you're not necessarily in the mood, trust us and order it! While edamame can be a healthy snack, the calories quickly add up; a 4 oz serving provides 170 calories and 6 grams of fat.

2. Roll it with cucumber. A typical roll of sushi is prepared with one cup of rice (3 servings of carbs) to coat the seaweed. This one cup of rice provides 240 calories, and that's before anything else is even added. Ask for your roll to be wrapped in cucumber instead of rice to save hundreds of calories.

3.Limit the rice. If you are craving rice with your sushi, be assertive and request "light rice" (less rice). Take it a step further and request brown rice, when possible, for an extra-fiber boost. If you're ordering two rolls, get one with rice and the second roll wrapped in cucumber.

4. Keep it simple. Avoid battered and fried ingredients, including anything "tempura" or "crunchy." Tempura is not only battered, but deep-fried as well. One shrimp tempura roll contains 544 calories and 13 grams of fat! Also, avoid the mayo typically found in "spicy" versions of common rolls like tuna, spicy salmon, etc. Each tablespoon of spicy mayo packs an additional 100 calories and 11 grams of fat into the roll.

5. Order sashimi. Sashimi is low in calories, high in lean protein, and contains zero servings of carbohydrates. A one-ounce piece of tuna sashimi contains only 35 calories while a one-ounce piece of salmon sashimi contains only 55 calories. Aside from being low in calories, you also get the benefits of omega-3 essential fatty acids.

6. Healthier options. Look for broiled, grilled or steamed items. Some examples of healthy options are sunomono (various seafood in vinegar sauce), tuna tataki, carpaccio and oshitashi (steamed spinach with soy sauce).

7. Ask for low-sodium soy sauce. While salt contains zero calories, too much can increase blood pressure and can leave you feeling bloated. To counteract the sodium, make sure to wash your meal down with plenty of water.

*F-Factor Best Bets

Sample meal for dining in a Japanese restaurant during step 1:

• Green salad with ginger dressing

• Miso soup

• Sashimi dinner: 3 pieces tuna, 3 pieces yellowtail, 3 pieces salmon, 3 pieces shrimp

• Green tea

Total carbohydrate: 0 grams

Total fiber: 3 grams

Tanya Zuckerbrot, MS, RD is a nutritionist and founder of She is also the creator of The F-Factor DietaC/, an innovative nutritional program she has used for more than ten years to provide hundreds of her clients with all the tools they need to achieve easy weight loss and maintenance, improved health and well-being. For more information log onto