Is Poke Healthy? Nutrition Facts You Should Know
If you have yet to see it on a post or two on social media or try this Hawaiian dish, poke has become increasingly popular worldwide for its simply delicious flavors that nobody can seem to get enough of. If you’re wondering if poke is healthy, scroll down to know.
Poke bowls typically contain rice, oil, seasonings, vegetables, and diced raw fish, such as salmon, snapper, or tuna. However, they’re often easily customizable, allowing you to add fresher, healthier ingredients.
No doubt that poke is delicious, but how healthy is it? This article will explain the health benefits of poke and how to make healthier options.
What is Poke?
Poke (pronounced poh-kay) is originally a Hawaiian meal. It is found everywhere in Hawaii, from roadside stands to gas stations, and is known in the Hawaiian language as meaning to cut or slice.
The meal contains raw fish or octopus tossed over sticky rice with pickled vegetables and flavorings such as seaweed, soy, and salt. Though the exact ingredients for poke differ, it is mainly about the sweet, delicious protein.
What are the Ingredients Inside a Poke Bowl?
The poke you find at most stores might be slightly different from the original version, but its difference doesn’t mean they don’t have something or ingredients in common.
The ingredients you’ll generally find in a poke bowl are raw fish (it can be any other proteins), sticky white rice, avocado, and sauce like ginger, ponzu, soy, miso, and mayo. You’ll also find fresh vegetables and fruit, such as mushrooms, peppers, cucumber, pineapple, edamame, radishes, and mango.
Adding spices or flavors like mint, diced chile peppers, scallions, basil, chopped fresh cilantro, and herbs with other toppings like seaweed makes the poke bowl worth paying attention to.
Is There Mercury in a Poke?
First of all, what is mercury? Mercury is a heavy metal with no positive function in the human body. Instead of being beneficial, it has many effects on the human body, especially on the kidney and brain.
As long as there is not much mercury intake in the body, the body can cope, but it can lead to mercury toxicity if it stores a high mercury intake.
So, is there mercury in a poke? Yes. Fresh fish, the major ingredient in a poke, is a high-mercury fish, and as calculated, the amount of mercury found in this fish has been increasing by about four percent yearly. It is certain that with this fish’s presence, there is mercury in a poke.
The mercury in the fish results from pollution caused by industries from mines, coal plants, and natural sources like volcanoes. These industrial pollutants enter the wetlands and oceans every day. The mercury gets converted to methylmercury whenever it reaches, which enters the fish’s bodies immediately and gets absorbed.
In the same way that mercury biomagnifies in the organisms of humans, it is the same way it does in a fish, and starting with plankton and small fish, it is passed through the food chain. So, the longer a fish lives and how extreme it is on the food chain, the more mercury it will contain.
How Healthy is Poke?
Poke bowls are full of healthy ingredients, which includes carrot, seaweeds, sweet potatoes, radishes, cucumbers, fresh vegetables, vitamins, and avocados. These ingredients perform different functions that help build the body in different aspects.
It would be best if you didn’t search for a meal to add to your diet because poke is a healthy meal. It’s rich in protein and low in fat and calories. It serves the benefits of gaining muscle and providing weight loss.
Is Poke Good for Weight Loss?
Poke bowls are an appropriate addition to your meals whether you want to lose weight or build muscle. Experts note the ideal diet for gaining muscle and losing fat must be low in calories and fat and high in protein — all of which poke contains.
Combine your gym workout sessions with poke bowls to get much closer to achieving your fitness goals.
How to Make Poke Healthier
Making a poke healthier has to do with applying healthy ingredients. You should know what to add more and reduce in making this already healthy meal. Below are major ingredients that are beneficial and healthy to use.
To get a fiber-rich base, you should get vegetables, especially brown rice. Though sometimes, it depends on what you want or your personal nutritional needs. So, when choosing rice, amongst other health benefits, be aware that brown rice has more lean protein and fiber while sushi rice has more iron and calcium with less sodium.
For healthy fat, choose raw salmon, rich in protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids. There are other choices to make when determining the kind of protein you want, like tofu or raw tuna. Compared to salmon, tuna has more iron, calcium, and magnesium.
You can choose fish too, but remember that it isn’t advisable nor recommended to eat fish more than two times a week because of the mercury levels. It is healthy and serves as a great source of protein.
Tofu is also rich in protein as it is high in zinc, iron, vitamin B, and magnesium. Avocados are healthy and nutritious fruit worth adding to your bowl. The protein you choose doesn’t matter; avocado looks and tastes nice and provides magnesium and healthy fats.
Fermented cabbage called Kimchi and pickled ginger are great picks too. Both are rich in probiotics and feed the good bacteria in your guts which helps your digestive system. Kimchi is high in calcium, vitamins A and B, and iron.
Seaweed salad should be included when making a healthy poke. It is a great source of tyrosine and iodine, and both support your thyroid by boosting your energy and helping to repair damaged cells in the body.
Your marinades should be healthy too, and one of the healthiest to choose is miso. Unlike other kinds, it is not high in sugar or Sriracha and calories. Another is ponzu which is made of citrus juice, rice vinegar, kelp, mirin, soy sauce, and bonito flakes.
Poke consists of and is mainly made of nutritious, delicious, and healthy ingredients. You should be aware that, all things done moderately, you are to follow recommended consumption of ingredients.
Poke is healthy when made healthy. Use a vegetable base, choose any protein of your choice and if it must be fish, be mindful of the mercury levels, and limit excess condiment and oil.