Usually, it starts when we fall in love with one’s normal entrance into sushi, the California roll. Also, some people eat imitation crab as a fish substitute. It is enjoyable. But have you ever stopped a minute to think what’s in there? Few have. “Crab stick” can be analogous with hot dogs, health-wise, nutrition experts say. In Japanese it’s called “surimi,” which means ground meat. Manufacturers take different parts of fish, and not the most appetizing ones. These are ground into a paste and formed into the red and white sticks we are used to seeing sliced up in Asian-inspired dishes. Just like any highly processed meat, they are laden with stuff that just isn’t good for you such as sodium, starch, artificial flavors–code for chemicals and in some, even the dreaded, headache-inducing MSG. Also, if you are eating gluten-free you better stay away from this stuff. If you want to eat real crab meat of course that doesn’t come with gluten. So how do imitation crab meat and the real thing measure up nutrition-wise?
If you took three ounces of each and compared side-by-side, you’d see that real crab meat is 82 calories while the imitation stuff just 81. Real crab meat has 1.3 grams of fat, the fake variety just .4 grams. Real crab meat beat out the fake stuff with just a tad more sodium, a mere 200 mgs more, 715 to 911. But real crab meat is packed with 16 grams of protein to the fake stuff’s 6 grams and loads more potassium, 223 mg. to 77 mg. Real crab meat has none of the chemicals, the gluten or the MSG. So why do restaurants serve fake crab meat? Well it looks appetizing, it’s an added bonus without the expense of real crab meat, it can be placed into many different dishes and some patrons really like it. It’s okay to have once in a while. But much like any form of junk food, it should not be consumed often.