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How healthy is your sushi snack? Lunch boxes from High Street chains can contain more calories than a BIG MAC (and more sugar than biscuits)
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- Japanese food from High Street chains not as healthy as you may think
- Sushi rice can be made using a sugar solution
- One Itsu box set has more calories than a Big Mac
- Soy sauce is high in salt and Brits eat much more of it than the Japanese
- In Japan, they also have smaller portions and don't add mayonnaise
The Japanese are famed for their healthy eating but Brits hoping to emulate them by grabbing lunches of rice and sushi from popular High Street restaurant chains might not be eating as well as they think.
A Channel 4 investigation has found some sushi box sets contain more calories than a Big Mac, can be as high in sugar as biscuits and contain as many carbohydrates as seven-and-a-half-slices of white bread.
The unhealthiness of the snack is also increased by the British fondness for soy sauce. While the Japanese only use it sparingly, Brits often dip their sushi rolls in copious amounts which can quickly lead to them exceeding their recommended daily salt intake in one sitting.
Kate said many sushi fans may be surprised to learn that the rice used in sushi is often made with a solution containing some sugar.
Itsu's Health and Happiness
McDonald's Big Mac
Two Jammie Dodger biscuits
Pret A Manager's Salmon, Prawn and Crab Sushi set
Wasabi Hana Box
Sugar: not stated
Seven and half slices of bread
They found one of the biggest offenders for sugar content is Pret A Manager's Salmon, Prawn and Crab Sushi set which contains 10.8g of sugar. Two Jammie Dodger biscuits have a similar amount of the sweet stuff.
Meanwhile, they found that the Wasabi Hana Box, which contains avocado, cucumber and prawn mayonnaise sushi rolls as well as salmon topped rice and seafood sticks, has a total of 132g carbs, including those found in the accompanying sauces. The equivalent number of carbs can be found in seven-and-a-half-slices of white bread.
Pret A Manager's Salmon, Prawn and Crab Sushi set, left, contains 10.8g of sugar. Two Jammie Dodger biscuits have a similar amount of the sweet stuff
A shocked Kate said: 'You might go for sushi and think it is a healthier alternative to the bog standard slices of bread sandwich and yet what you are eating is the equivalent in carbs of seven-and-a-half slices of bread.'
Amanda agreed saying many people probably don't consider the carbohydrate content like they would if they were eating bread.
'I think there is a disconnect between rice in sushi and carbohydrates,' she said,
Fans of Itsu's Health and Happiness Sushi box may be even more surprised to learn their lunch choice is comparable to a McDonald's burger.
The 13 piece set of line caught tuna and salmon sushi, salmon sashimi, crab California and salmon and avocado maki and wakame with soy sauce contains a whopping 579 calories and 24g of fat.
In comparison, a Big Mac has 508 calories and and 25g of fat.
When it comes to soy sauce, Kate said many will come close to their 6g a day recommended limit if they use more than one sachet, as a typical serving can have up to 2.25g of salt.
Tricks Of The Restaurant Trade presenter Simon Rimmer said this is one of the ways Japanese food has become distorted in authenticity since Japanese restaurant chains took off in the UK in the Nineties.
It is eaten and prepared in a vastly different way in its home country.
Restaurant Tricks Of The Trade presenter Adam Pearson tries some sushi as the team investigate why British servings of it aren't always as healthy as Japanese counter-parts
WHAT'S REALLY IN YOUR WASABI PASTE?
Wasabi paste is a popular condiment for Japanese foods served at High Street chains - but some of them don't even contain any wasabi.
Tricks Of The Restaurant Trades reveals that the wasabi plant is most expensive vegetable in world at £250 a kilogram so it cannot be cheaply mass produced.
It also only has its hot, intense flavour when freshly grated, as it loses heat quickly once cut.
As a result, High Street paste versions in sachets are actually made from horse radish, mustard and colourings, with little or no added wasabi.
He explains: 'For the Japanese sushi is very different. They often only have it on special occasions. As well as eating it less often, their portions are smaller and rice and soy sauce are used sparingly.'
As well as having much smaller portions of rice and soy sauce, the Japanese also don't eat their sushi with mayonnaise or avocado - ingredients that have been added to suit Western tastes but are high in fat.
A spokesman for Itsu said: 'Whilst the calories and fat content for the Health & Happiness box and a Big Mac are roughly the same, the Health & Happiness box is almost double the weight of a Big Mac (372g vs 192g).
'A more realistic and fairer comparison would be a meal consisting of a Big Mac and a large portion of French fries, for a total weight of 317g, 952 kcal, 47g fat and 11g saturated fat.
'All fats are not the same – The Big Mac has 9.5g of saturated fat whilst our Health & Happiness box is low in saturated fat, containing only 3.8g.
Eating a lot of saturated fat can raise the level of LDL cholesterol in the blood. Having high LDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease. In addition, the Health and Happiness box is high in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, which contribute to the normal function of the heart. This sushi box is also a source of several minerals and vitamins. In particular, it is a source of vitamin D, which contributes to the maintenance of normal bones and teeth and to normal function of the immune system.
MailOnline contacted Pret for a comment.
Tricks of the Restaurant Trade airs tonight at 8.30pm on Channel 4.