A decade of Japanese sushi chefs’ work has given us a sense of how much of a hit it can be.
And we’re about to get a new way of measuring it, thanks to a new study.
We have a lot of sushi in our bodies, and a lot more sushi than we thought, says lead author Sasa Maki, a sushi expert at the Tokyo Metropolitan University.
The new research, published today in Science, will give us a way to measure how much we eat of certain types of sushi.
A good sushi meal, or a sushi meal with enough fish and salt, should provide a lot for the brain, and it should be high in omega-3s, which are thought to improve cognition.
“Sushi is a very healthy food, so a lot is going to go into it, but the brain gets a lot,” says Maki.
What’s the science behind sushi?
Sushi is made from seaweed and a mixture of fish, vegetables and other ingredients.
But it has some odd qualities.
One of them is that it has a lot to do with the ratio of omega-6 to omega-7 fats in it.
A low ratio of one kind of omega to another is thought to make you fat, but when we eat lots of fish that have low omega-5 to omega 5 ratios, we don’t get much fat, says Mitsu.
In the study, Maki and his colleagues fed two groups of Japanese-style sushi to 12 healthy participants for two weeks.
They found that the amount of omega in the food increased with each meal, and that those with the highest omega intake were more likely to get the most omega-4s in their diet.
But the researchers didn’t find any relationship between the omega-fat intake and cognitive performance.
So what can you do with this data?
It’s interesting because we have been eating a lot less omega-based fish, says Mark Denniston, an associate professor of nutrition at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York.
But if we can get fish and omega-rich fish to taste like fish, then we can do a lot with it, Dennistonsays.
But there are limitations to the study.
The researchers had participants eat a total of 3,500 calories, but they were allowed to eat a maximum of 1,800 calories during the two-week study period.
And because the study was run in a controlled environment, some of the participants might have been overeating.
That’s why the researchers couldn’t control for total calories or macronutrients, but it’s a starting point, says Dennists.
It’s also important to remember that the omega intake of people who ate the most was probably more than the amount consumed by people who didn’t.
So if you’re not getting enough omega-8, the researchers recommend eating plenty of omega 3s and eating more vegetables and whole grains, says Risa Maki of the Tokyo Met.
The findings will help researchers understand how our brains work when we’re eating fish and vegetables, says Daniela Sommaruga of the University of Helsinki, who wasn’t involved in the study but was also an author.
The study will also help us understand the ways that eating foods rich in omega 3 may be associated with a reduction in anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues, says co-author Ryoichi Tanaka of the National Institute of Mental Health.
“We know that there is an association between fish consumption and lower anxiety and depression, so this is very exciting,” says Tanaka.
And it will also be important to look at whether omega-2 fatty acids like docosahexaenoic acid, which is found in red meat and fish, could help in people who suffer from anxiety or depression, says Dr. Matthew Smith of the Australian National University in Canberra.
“The omega-protein levels in fish may be important in treating anxiety and other psychiatric conditions,” says Smith.
But Maki says that’s not enough to say that omega-12 is good for the human brain.
“It is certainly a possible benefit of fish consumption in general, but to really know whether fish is good or bad for the whole brain is important,” he says.
This article was originally published on ScienceNOW.