Post image for Ginger and Wasabi

Ginger and Wasabi

by jenny sansouci on September 20, 2012

When I first moved to New York City in 2007, my roommate at the time, Matt, told me this as he gave me a tour of the city:

“Jenny, if you’re going to live in New York, you have to do 2 things: eat sushi and do yoga.”

Ha. No problem. Let’s do this. I wanted to be legit, so I started eating sushi on the regular. (He also forced me to try “street meat” – a habit that fortunately didn’t stick).

Ever since then, I’ve found that people are totally obsessed with sushi. And not just in New York.

I started thinking about this the other day. What is it about sushi that has this effect on people? Honestly, I don’t think it’s just the fish or the rice. Personally, I think it all boils down to 2 spicy little friends: ginger and wasabi.

By the way, this blog is not about whether or not I think sushi is “healthy.” I know a lot of you are vegans, would never think about touching white rice, and there’s a lot of crazy shit going on with fish these days. I’m not going there right now. I’m here to talk about ginger and wasabi. Cool? 🙂

Anyway, I don’t think I’d care about sushi all that much if ginger and wasabi weren’t involved. I’m always the person at the table who eats the entire pile of ginger.

So, that being said, I figured I’d check out what’s so great about these 2 little “condiments” and I learned some surprising stuff!! Here’s the lowdown:


Ok, here’s the deal. Wasabi is a member of the same family as cabbage, mustard and horseradish, and it’s the wasabi root that’s used as a condiment.

True authentic wasabi is known to have anti-bacterial, anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects on the body, which is fab news.

THE KICKER: Outside of Japan, specialty grocery stores and super high end Japanese restaurants, most wasabi we get served at restaurants in the US isn’t actually wasabi at all. It’s a mixture of horseradish, mustard and green food coloring. NO!! That makes me sad. 🙁

As far as how to know if you’re getting real wasabi or not at a restaurant, I’m not sure, but the best bet would be to ask.


Ginger, of course, is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It’s awesome for digestion and boosting the immune system. The ginger you get at sushi restaurants is thinly sliced, pickled ginger.

THE KICKER: Sometimes the pile of ginger is “normal ginger” colored (white/yellowish) and other times you’ll see pink ginger, like in the picture above. If the ginger is very pale pink, it is probably the result of the natural pickling process – but if it’s bright pink, it’s artificial coloring.

Here’s an article about the different types of artificial food coloring & the health effects.

Well, when I started writing this blog it was just going to be a happy positive article about the health benefits of wasabi and ginger, but it turned into a bit of an exposé on food coloring. 😉 I hope I didn’t scare you away if you’re one of the sushi-obsessed….but it’s just something to keep in mind and I think it’s interesting to know and to be able to make more informed decisions.

What do you think about this? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Like Healthy Crush? Get the play-by-play. Follow me on Instagram. Instagram
Do you love health, nutrition and wellness? Check out the Institute for Integrative Nutrition!


erdos September 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I enjoy sushi even when I don’t eat it wasabi and I never eat the pickled ginger. Shiny, pink, and smooth ginger just seems wrong to me having grown up with plenty of exposure to yellow rough ginger.

Pamela Schmidlin September 20, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I am one of those vegans you mentioned above….by the way!…So thank you for taking us into consideration- you put that so nicely in your piece….and something I will take with me in writing my blogs in the future!….

As far as the Ginger and Wasabi- hey, even vegans can enjoy these on vegetarian sushi/ vegan sushi- even raw sushi… is sad however that people have to mess around with such AWESOME foods and make them less beneficial to everyone who wants to enjoy them?….My question is when they do these things to Wasabi and Ginger is it to make them look “pretty”” and/ or make them taste more appealing?!??!?…..Does it make people want more if they do these things- add that color, etc- like they do with say potato chips, etc?!?!?

By the way, good choice on not touching the white rice….I hear the white rice in the fast food restaurants alone is not the best as well…’s been a long time since I stepped foot in a Chinese restaurant so I can not remember what it was that was so wrong but anyway…..

Maybe one day in the future SOON, I can open my dog friendly restaurant/ cafe….and have my vegan/ raw vegan (yes, some cooked!- BUT safely and to benefit those enjoying the meals!) menu for both species on Long Island, actually I hope to do more with it but anyway…..

I am a dreamer of having this animal- environment- people friendly world……ONE DAY!

Bria Anderson September 20, 2012 at 2:56 pm

I am eating pickled ginger with my homemade spring rolls as I type this! I too am the girl who eats ALL of the ginger when I go out for sushi…and I usually ask for seconds 😉 Today I’m enjoying my ginger sans artificial coloring…but there were times when I’ve had the pink stuff and thought, hmm..ginger is not pink in its natural state..something must have been added here.

Thanks for the tasty info, darlin! 🙂

Amy September 20, 2012 at 7:29 pm

LOL I’m always the ginger hoarder too. Super interesting! And yes people ARE totally obsessed with sushi. My friend has a Meetup group called…wait for it…YogaSushiFun 🙂

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: