Is sushi healthy? And five reasons to eat more seaweed

This popular sushi ingredient is high in vitamin A and can help reduce headaches. Try this delicious ginger chicken wrap recipe!

nori roll, seaweed wrap, ginger chicken

Julie Daniluk

seaweed, nori, benefits

Julie Daniluk

The western hemisphere has a real love affair with sushi. We can’t get enough of the simplicity, the elegance, the salty sauce, the hit of wasabi and the kick of the pickled ginger. We also like to think of it as a healthy, low-calorie lunch. However, you should know that white sushi rice is prepared with a sugar-infused sauce called mirin, which can dampen your weight balance efforts by spiking your blood sugar. Thankfully, the more health-conscious sushi restaurants are beginning to offer brown rice sushi and even rice-free rolls.

On the other hand, nori paper, the seaweed used in sushi dishes, is great for cleansing and reducing the waistline. The paper, made of shredded red seaweed is about 1/3 protein and 1/3 dietary fibre. Both of these nutrients help to balance blood sugar and leave you feeling satisfied. It also has good amounts of iron and B vitamins, which improve energy.

For those still skeptical about seaweed, you should know that nori does not taste fishy at all. It is crispy, light and adds just a hint of salty goodness to the foods it’s paired with.

Need more reasons to fall in love with nori? Here are five:

1. Add nori to your diet to help reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes: The iodine in nori has been shown to improve thyroid function, to decrease insulin resistance and allow glucose into your cells to be burned for energy! This keeps your blood sugar levels manageable so your pancreas doesn’t have to work overtime.

2. Nori is high in vitamin A: Vitamin A is one of the major antioxidants that prevents ocular degeneration and night blindness, but did you know that vitamin A is also used by your lung tissue to guard against the same kind of tissue degeneration? We may not think that our lungs need upkeep but, they are one of the major exit doors of our body, so it’s imperative to keep them in tip-top shape.

3. Nori is high in vitamin C: Vitamin C is not just for colds anymore. It can actually decrease healing time of skin wounds and decrease inflammation applied both topically and internally. Combining the known antioxidant properties of vitamin C with its anti-inflammatory action makes vitamin C the ultimate regenerator for cellular cleansing and renewal. 

4. Use nori to clean out cholesterol: Nori is high in niacin, which has been shown on its own and used as a complementary supplement to decrease low density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol levels especially in people suffering from type 2 diabetes. Niacin can increase the metabolism of triglycerides (the chemical form of fat in food and in the body) on the arterial walls and cleanse the blood stream.

5. Nori can help your headache: Nori is high in magnesium. Magnesium has a relaxing effect on your muscles and has been shown to decrease muscle cramping and pain after exercise. New studies show that magnesium can also relax the small arterial and skeletal muscles in the head and neck to relieve cluster headaches and migraines.

Nori-wrapped double-ginger chicken

This dish is just like sushi—without all the white rice. The two different kinds of ginger act as an amazing way to pack tons of flavour into chicken without sugary sauces or piles of sodium. If you want to make these ahead, cook up the chicken, chop ingredients and then assemble the rolls at the last minute, as nori loses its crispness quickly. The avocado in this recipe is rich in vitamin B6, a critical nutrient for happy hormones. Enjoy this recipe for Valentine’s Day to ensure a stress-free date.

1/2 cup (125 mL) fresh ginger, chopped
1.5 cups (375 mL) filtered water
1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced lengthwise into two cm strips
2 tbsp (25 mL) lemon juice
Celtic sea salt, to taste
6 sheets nori (roasted seaweed)
2 oz (55 g) pickled ginger
1 large ripe avocado
1/2 large orange or red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1. In a saucepan, bring ginger, water, chicken, juice and salt to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for about 15 minutes, or until cooked. Turn chicken once during this time. Let cool in cooking liquid.
2. When cool, remove chicken and some ginger from liquid.
3. Make rolls: Place one nori sheet on a flat surface. Put two slices of chicken end to end on nori about 1-inch (2.5 cm) from bottom of sheet. Top with about 1 tablespoon (15 mL) drained pickled ginger, two thin wedges of avocado, and bell pepper slices (to your individual taste). Roll tightly, then seal by brushing end of sheet with cold water. Enjoy as a hand roll. Makes 6 wraps.

Nutritionist Julie Daniluk hosts Healthy Gourmet, a reality cooking show that looks at the ongoing battle between taste and nutrition. Her soon to be published first book, Meals That Heal Inflammation, advises on allergy-free foods that both taste great and assist the body in the healing process.

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