Sushi is a very popular part of Japanese cuisine that consists of fish and rice or a mixture of both. It can be eaten raw or not raw. Many people love it but many people avoid it because of its concern for safety like pregnant woman, children, and breastfeeding women. Mirna Sabbagh, nutritionist, Dietitian and IBCLC (International Board Certified Lactation Consultant) at myPediaclinic (Voted best pediatric clinic in Dubai) discusses if it is safe to eat sushi for children, breastfeeding women, and pregnant women in the following blog post and video of her interview on Al-Arabiya.
Is sushi healthy?
The fish in sushi is what is so healthy about sushi and the Japanese cuisine. Fish is a nutrition powerhouse with hundreds of vitamins and minerals but more importantly healthy fats such as omega 3. Omega 3 is an essential fatty acid, it means our body can not make it and we “need” to get it from food. If we don’t get it from food then our entire body does not function properly especially brain function.
For example omega 3 is the starting point for hormone production. Hormones are involved in depression, heart clotting, and inflammation. Which is why depression is linked to low omega 3 intakes. Omega 3’s direct involvement with brain function is also why low omega 3 is associated with dementia, ADHD, memory loss and more.
Omega 3’s involvement with blood clotting is also why it is important that all people consume omega 3 once or twice a week.
When choosing sushi, avoid the white rice as it usually has added sugars, opt for riceless options or brown rice options if available.
Can we get omega 3 from other sources like walnuts and vegetable oils?
You can get omega 3 from other sources however it is not the high quality omega 3 that our body needs. Omega 3 has 3 types. EPA, DHA, and ALA. They are all healthy but the most importtant ones are EPA and DHA. Nuts and oils have ALA which may convert to EPA and DHA but not much. We actually need to get the EPA and DHA from fish.
At what age can I start giving my child fish?
Most people are too scared to give children fish and postpone it for a long time. However, research now shows us that the earlier we start introducing foods, the less allergy risk. Babies can start eating cooked fish starting 6 months. To read more about what else babies can have check the following article ” When can my baby have allergenic foods?” also by Mirna Sabbagh, Nutritionist and Dietitian and Lactation Consultant at myPediaclinic.
Can my child have raw fish?
Children’s complete immunity does not develop before the child is around 5 years of age, for this reason young children would get sick from the bacteria in raw fish which the normal adult body is used to. Therefor, children under the age of 5 should not have raw fish or raw sushi. Until your child can have raw fish, encourage them to go with you and pick child safe options like cooked sushi instead of going for the child meal which may not include beneficial fish.
Can pregnant woman have raw sushi?
It is preferred that pregnant women do not have raw sushi as their immunity is suppressed during pregnancy and their risk of food poisoning is increased. Pregnant women can safely consume cooked sushi or maki like shrimp tempura or cooked salmon/
Can breastfeeding women have sushi?
Breastfeeding women can have sushi because their immunity is no longer suppressed and a bacterial infection caused by raw fish does not pass through the breast milk.