Poke bowls are a Hawaiian dish that includes rice, seasons, raw fish and vegetables. Poke includes healthy ingredients but may be high in sodium and calories.

Poke — pronounced “poh-kay” — bowls are traditionally a combination of rice, vegetables, oil, seasonings, and diced raw fish, such as tuna, salmon, or snapper.

Originally a Hawaiian dish, poke bowls are becoming popular worldwide. As such, you may wonder whether they’re healthy.

This article examines whether poke bowls are good for you and how to make your options healthier.

Poke bowl with veggies, edamame, salmon, and fried mushroomsShare on Pinterest
Martí Sans/Stocksy United

Whether poke is healthy depends on the ingredients it’s made with, as well as your personal health needs and preferences.

Consist mostly of nutrient-dense foods

While poke bowls are highly customizable, the main ingredients are vegetables and fish — two generally nutritious foods.

Some of the most common vegetables used in poke are avocado, garlic, onion, and carrots, which are full of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidants, all of which support your overall health (1, 2, 3).

Fish are a good source of protein and unsaturated omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for brain function, heart health, and reducing inflammation (4, 5, 6, 7).

That said, poke bowls are usually created using a base of white rice, a highly processed grain that is low in fiber. If consumed in excess, it may increase your risk of type 2 diabetes (8, 9).

If you like to frequently eat poke bowls, it might be a good idea to swap out the white rice for brown rice or other fiber-rich bases like quinoa, barley, or cauliflower rice.

Can be high in sodium and calories

Poke bowls are usually made with sesame oil, which is very calorie dense, and soy sauce seasoning, which is generally high in sodium.

While sodium is an essential nutrient, it can raise blood pressure and increase heart disease risk in some people when consumed in excess.

For this reason, some people may want to limit their added sodium intake from condiments like soy sauce (10).

Raw fish may carry a risk of foodborne illness

Consuming raw fish should always be practiced with caution due to the risk for foodborne pathogens, such as Salmonella, which may be present in uncooked animal products and can make you very sick (11).

Additionally, some fish tend to be high in mercury, a heavy metal that can have toxic effects on your nervous system and should be consumed in moderation (12, 13).

High mercury fish include bluefin and bigeye tuna, swordfish, shark, and king mackerel.

Children and people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised should avoid eating uncooked fish or species that tend to be high in mercury (12).


Poke bowls generally contain healthy ingredients like fish and vegetables. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of eating raw fish, especially if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or immunocompromised.

It’s very easy to adjust the composition of your poke bowl to meet your dietary or health preferences.

For instance, you could make it more vegetable-heavy and lighter in calories by including a larger portion of colorful veggies and using less added oil and soy sauce.

You could also replace the white rice base with whole grains like barley or quinoa or a grain-free alternative like zucchini spirals, edamame noodles, or kelp salad.

Note that while poke bowls are generally made with fish, you can also create vegan bowls that don’t use any animal products. Instead, you can substitute protein-rich tofu, tempeh, or seitan that’s made from cooked wheat gluten.

Alternatively, you might choose to include a fish that’s generally lower in mercury, such as salmon, cod, tilapia, catfish, or trout (13).

Poke bowls are also a great meal to include fermented foods like pickled vegetables or sauerkraut.

Fermented foods are loaded with natural probiotics that may offer gut-health benefits, help fight inflammation, and strengthen your immune system (14, 15).


Healthier poke bowls can be created by choosing a whole grain or vegetable base, limiting excess condiments, and either opting for lower mercury fish or a plant-based protein source.

Poke bowls traditionally include rice, vegetables, raw fish, oil, and seasonings or condiments like soy sauce.

While poke bowls are generally made with healthy ingredients, it’s important to be aware of the potential risks of consuming raw fish and ingredients that may not offer many nutrients, such as white rice and large amounts of oil or soy sauce.

To create a healthier poke bowl, you may want to opt for a whole grain or vegetable base, limit excess oil and condiments, and choose a lower mercury variety of fish or plant-based protein.