Many Japanese restaurants feature both sushi and sashimi on the menu.

While each one is a popular traditional dish from Japan, several key differences set them apart.

This article explores the key similarities and differences between sushi and sashimi — in terms of not only how they’re made but also their nutrient content and health effects.

various types of salmon sushi on a platterShare on Pinterest
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Sushi is a dish made with vinegared rice that’s combined with fresh ingredients like veggies or fish, wrapped in seaweed, and cut into small, bite-size pieces.

Although raw fish is a common ingredient, not all sushi contains fish. This dish can also include other fillings, such as cucumber, avocado, sweet potato, sesame seeds, and sauces. It’s commonly served with garnishes like soy sauce, wasabi, and pickled ginger.

Sashimi consists of thinly sliced varieties of raw meat or fish. Salmon, tuna, halibut, and squid are a few of the most popular types of sashimi.

Sashimi-grade seafood is caught using an individual hand line instead of a net. The fish is killed and iced immediately, which extends its shelf life and keeps it fresh longer.

Unlike sushi, sashimi is not served with rice or accompanied by sauces or toppings.

summary

Sushi combines vinegared rice, various fillings like veggies or seafood, and seaweed. Sashimi is made from thinly sliced raw meat or fish and served without rice or other accompaniments.

Although the nutrient content of sushi varies depending on the ingredients used, sushi is typically higher in carbs and fiber than sashimi because it contains rice, seaweed, and vegetables.

Conversely, because sashimi consists solely of raw meat or fish, it’s a better source of protein and heart-healthy fats.

The table below shows how 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of sushi and sashimi compare (1, 2):

California sushi rollSmoked salmon sashimi
Calories93179
Protein3 grams21.5 grams
Fat1 gram11 grams
Carbs18.5 grams0 grams
Fiber1 gram0 grams

The popular California roll listed above typically contains cucumber, avocado, and crab or imitation crab.

Keep in mind that most people eat more sushi in each serving than sashimi, which may affect the total amounts of nutrients you consume.

Regardless, sashimi is higher in protein. This nutrient is necessary for tissue repair, wound healing, and muscle growth. Research shows that eating more protein-rich foods, such as sashimi, may support appetite control and decrease food cravings (3, 4).

Sashimi is also a better source of healthy fats such as omega-3 fatty acids, which regulate inflammation and promote heart health (5).

summary

Sushi is higher in carbs and fiber than sashimi, while sashimi is a better source of protein and omega-3 fats.

Sushi is more versatile and fits more dietary patterns than sashimi.

For example, vegetarians or people who don’t like fish can still eat sushi rolls made with avocado or cucumber, whereas sashimi — made with only raw seafood or meat — isn’t an option.

However, sushi is also high in refined carbs and sodium, which may raise blood sugar and blood pressure levels for some people (6, 7).

Additionally, sashimi and many types of sushi contain raw fish, which has several safety concerns. Eating raw fish may increase your risk of foodborne illness due to potential contamination with harmful parasites and bacteria (8, 9).

Many people are advised to avoid raw fish altogether, including pregnant people, young children, and older adults (8, 10).

What’s more, certain types of fish contain high levels of heavy metals such as mercury, which is toxic and has been linked to numerous negative health effects (11, 12).

summary

Sushi is more versatile than sashimi from a dietary standpoint but higher in refined carbs and sodium. Sashimi and many types of sushi contain raw fish, which is linked to several health concerns and may contain heavy metals such as mercury.

While sushi and sashimi are both popular items in Japanese cuisine, they’re distinct dishes with key differences.

Sushi combines various fresh fillings with vinegared rice. It’s often wrapped in seaweed and cut into small pieces. Meanwhile, sashimi consists of thinly sliced cuts of raw meat or fish.

Sushi is more versatile than sashimi from a dietary perspective because vegetarians and vegans can eat versions made without fish. However, it’s higher in refined carbs and sodium and lower in protein and heart-healthy fats.

Keep in mind that raw fish is associated with food poisoning and that some types of seafood may be high in heavy metals, so you should enjoy sashimi and raw-fish sushi in moderation.