When you eat sushi, raw fish is not as much dangerous as you might worry. Sushi was developed in Japan, where it is warm, humid and ideal place for food to get spoiled. Although the main island is not quite large and surrounded by ocean, it was difficult to preserve raw materials. Wisdom of food preservations can be found all around the world, such as bacon, cheese, pickles, jam, etc. They work pretty fine to preserve food for a long time. However, Japanese insisted and fought to eat raw fish and developed a unique culture—sushi.

One of the most important ingredients to avoid food poisoning is Wasabi. The unique flavor of wasabi comes from complex chemical mixtures including methlthioalkyl isothiocyanates. German researchers have shown that the hydrolysis of chemicals in wasabi inhibit microbe growth. Studies show wasabi can kill many kind of bacteria and viruses, such as E. coli O-157, Vibrio parahaemolyticus, V. cholera, and Salmonella.

The rice in sushi is of course with vinegar. This is not for the taste but for preservation. Vinegar is used in many kind of Japanese food for preservation purpose, but how it works chemically is yet to be determined. However, it is at least sure that vinegar provide acid environment to inhibit bacterial growth. Vinegar is also used to wash cooking board in sushi restaurant after slicing raw fish.

In addition, you are supposed to eat ginger with sushi because it also helps you to prevent stomach ache. A chemical which gives ginger its unique flavor, Shogaol, is a compound thought to kill bacteria. Moreover, eating ginger warm up your body, this is important when you eat cold raw meat and rice.

We still have one more thing to prevent us from food poisoning when eating sushi. That is green tea. Green tea contains a lot of catechin which has many health benefits as everyone knows.

You might have wondered about weird tasting materials such as wasabi and sweet ginger, and might have been annoyed with vinegar rice. However, all of them have a good reason which helps us to eat raw fish safely.

4 Responses to “Sushi”

  1. Elizabeth says:

    Going through my second pregnancy now, I have heard all the food scares there are to tell! During my first pregnancy, i got scared off sushi, mainly because I was so misinformed. I LOOOOOVE sushi, so I was not happy, but didn’t want to make myself or my baby sick. Reading this post has given me faith and I already knew about the benefits of green tea and ginger, and now you have confirmed the wonderful thing that is wasabi so I can eat it whilst being pregnant, thanks!!

  2. Kristal says:

    🙁 I guess I’m going to have to keep avoiding raw fish sushi, because I don’t like wasabi. On the plus side, I love vinegar rice and ginger, so I can keep eating the fake sushi I love!

    Thanks for the post, I had no idea that wasabi has health benefits like that.

  3. Justine Philip says:

    Hi Yoshi,

    Thanks for your post- that information is great to know. I have always been a fan of vinegar and the health benefits of it, but never made the connection with Sushi. Wasabi is great stuff too – I used to have a particularly boring lecturer in undergrad, and I found that eating wasabi was a good way of staying awake during class!

    So, now I am going to increase my intake of healthy food- vinegar, wasabi, ginger and green tea.

  4. Bang Tran says:

    Wow, that’s interesting. I really enjoy eating wasabi with sushi, just because of its taste, yet never think of its benefit at all. Next time, I definitely would have more 😀