It's easy to get answers about health and nutrition! Just send your question by email to [email protected] and Dr. Harlan will respond to selected questions of general interest. Answers will be posted in the Ask Dr. Gourmet newsletter (sign up now!) and archived in the Ask Dr. Gourmet section of the website.

Please note that the Ask Dr. Gourmet feature is restricted to questions regarding food and nutrition. Due to the many questions we receive, not all questions may be answered. For more specific questions about your individual health, please contact your doctor. About Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy

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Ask Dr. Gourmet

Can I reduce my cholesterol by eating spicy tuna rolls?

I thought that spicy tuna rolls, etc., would help lower cholesterol. Is that false?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Spicy Tuna Roll

I love sushi and it can be really good for you. Fresh raw fish served up in the best quality restaurant is key to delicious and safe sushi. Nigiri is the sushi that comes to your table as sliced raw fish topping an oblong mound of rice. This is pure and simple and generally served with soy sauce for dipping.

Maki, or sushi rolls, are sometimes made with sliced fish but some, like the spicy tuna roll, are made by first creating a salad of tuna finely diced and combined with chili oil, minced scallion and japanese mayonnaise. The mix is rolled inside a maki of rice and seaweed. Even with the little bit of mayonnaise rolls like this are healthy for you.

Most of the fish traditionally used is high in monounsaturated fat (which is good for your heart) and it's served with rice, veggies and seaweed. A good healthy combination, but it's best to have a balance of the "salad" type maki and nigiri sushi.

Keep in mind that the soy sauce contains a lot of sodium. Even the low sodium version comes in at about 500 mg in a tablespoon. Sushi without dipping sauce is really delicious, however. I have maki and nigiri without and the flavor of the sushi really comes through.

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet