Japanese food can be surprisingly unhealthy. Sure, fish, rice and vegetables are staples of Japanese cuisine. But so are breaded, deep fried and salty foods. Here are five of the unhealthiest Japanese foods.
Unhealthiest Japanese Foods: Tonkatsu
Tonkatsu is a nightmare for your arteries. This deep fried pork cutlet is breaded with panko breadcrumbs and often served alongside soup, rice and tonkatsu sauce- a heavy sickly sweet concoction. Many restaurants in Japan serve tonkatsu on its own or between two slices of white bread slathered with a creamy dressing as a sandwich. A tonkatsu pork cutlet with sauce only has 343 calories and 11 grams of fat, but it also has 142mg of cholesterol, 700 mg of sodium and 23 grams of carbohydrates.
Unhealthiest Japanese Foods: Tempura
In Japanese cuisine, seafood and vegetables reign supreme as the foods of choice. Tempura takes low calorie, no fat foods like prawn (large shrimp), eggplant, broccoli, mushrooms, small fish, carrots and eel and adds enormous amounts of fat. Tempura is battered deep fried vegetables or seafood served alongside rich dipping sauces, rice and miso soup. Vegetable tempura has 350 calories and 38 grams of fat. Not bad you might say, but when compare with the 45 calories and 1 gram of fat in the plain vegetables, that’s literally a huge addition to your bottom line. Although shrimp is naturally low in fat and calories, shrimp tempura has 575 calories and 48 grams of fat.
Unhealthiest Japanese Foods: Sushi (with raw fish)
Sushi has taken American diners by storm. Sushi may not contain fish at all. Sushi that contains fish may either have raw fish or fish that has been marinated in an acidic liquid until it is “cooked”. Sure, sushi is low in fat and calories, but sushi containing raw fish can also be loaded with residual chemicals, pesticides, parasites and heavy metals like mercury. The CDC recommends that pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems not eat sushi. Studies have shown that heavy sushi eaters have some serious health issues that may be related to their favorite nosh. These can include lower intelligence, fertility problems, debilitating fatigue and cancer. Cancer is relatively common in Japan where people eat large amounts of sushi.
Unhealthiest Japanese Foods: Nikujaga
Nikujaga is a Japanese stew of potatoes, onions and meat, usually pork. At first glance, nikujaga may seem like a healthy choice. However, the dish is stewed in sweetened soy sauce which pushes the salt and sugar content to outrageous heights. Mirin is commonly used in nikujaga. Mirin has a lot of sugar and calories. The meat used is often ground meat that is not very lean. The Fix: Ask for your nikujaga to be prepared with less mirin and skip the ground meat. Opt instead for lean cuts of meat.
Unhealthiest Japanese Foods: Okonomiyaki
Ever heard of okonomiyaki? Not quite a pizza, but neither an omelette, okonomiyaki is more like a thin pancake with added ingredients. The basic batter contains flour, grated yam, eggs, dashi, shredded cabbage and water. Okonomiyaki is a grill it yourself dining experience delivered to your table partly cooked on a teppan, a type of hotplate. Diners then add their choice of fillings, mostly meat, fatty cheese, seafood and vegetables. Okonomiyaki is often served with a thin layer of fried noodles, fried egg and okonomiyaki sauce which adds considerably to the fat and calorie count.
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