Beyond the trend, the poke has been consolidated as a proposal of healthy food. What characteristics does it have for nutritionists to recommend it? Are all poke the same, or are some healthier than others?
A perfect stranger at our table until just over five years ago, poke has become ubiquitous: we find it in the office tupperwarein fast food restaurants, in informal menus and, of course, in all places healthy. Because poke is associated with healthy food and a balanced dish, but is it really like that?
The short answer is yes: poke is a healthy food option. The long answer leads us to specify how the poke should be to be interesting from a nutritional point of view. For this reason, the first thing is to define what it consists of, what its basis is, and then see the different varieties and how we can benefit from it… or the opposite.
origin of poke
Let’s go to the origin. Poke is a dish with Hawaiian roots strongly marked by Japanese influence. The initial base was pieces of lightly marinated raw fish that Hawaiian fishermen ate while fishing on the high seas. From the Japanese they took rice, soy sauce and sesame oil, as well as other fish. And all this accompanied by vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts… Simplifying: poke is a salad with rice and raw fish.
Nutritional values of poke
“This combination of protein, high-quality carbohydrates and vegetables is what makes poke very attractive for healthy eating“, explains nutritionist Lola Cano. “We take it as a single dish and we know that it is providing us with the necessary nutrients.”
Thus, the fish that are normally used (salmon and tuna) are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids (beneficial for cardiovascular health); fruits and vegetables provide a variety of vitamins and antioxidants; Whole grain carbohydrates are a good source of fibra insoluble (which makes the poke very satiating), and the seeds and nuts, in addition to being heart-healthy, provide minerals and trace elements.
Added to all this, continues the nutritionist, “that a poke can be made in a few minutes and is a very good alternative to fast food options much less recommended. Of course, we must take care of the ingredients: depending on what we add, it will be more or less healthy”.
What is the healthiest poke?
That is the key. Under the name of poke we have begun to bring together multiple variants. Hawaiians, of course, throw their hands up when they see what we’re doing in the West with this dish (as we do with the chorizo in Jamie Oliver’s paella), but it’s not about being purists either: if we’re looking for a dish simple, fast and healthypoke can give us a lot of game.
What are the healthy options? Lola Cano tells us that “the greens and vegetables, both raw and steamed or even grilled, are always recommended. As for fish, although we normally talk about tuna or salmon -which are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids-, in reality any fish is a protein of high biological value and, therefore, also interesting from a nutritional point of view”.
The weak point -or, at least, where there are more chances of screwing up- is “in the carbohydrates. We must take them of good quality, that is, we are not interested in highly refined pasta and, on the other hand, the integral alternatives, which incorporate more nutrients and are therefore more complete. Rice, quinoa… and also legumeswhich, in addition to being high-quality carbohydrates, provide us with vegetable proteins”.
How to dress the poke
Another aspect that we have to take care of, if we want our poke to be healthy, is that of the dressings. No hypercaloric sauces (such as mayonnaise or ketchup) and, as for soy sauce, “you have to watch the salt, it is your greatest risk”. As far as the Sesame oilthe nutritionist reminds us that “the healthiest oil is extra virgin olive oil”.
Proportion of ingredients in the poke
One last question: the proportions. A poke with health benefits should be balanced and keep the right proportions. “The healthy plate is one in which half is made up of vegetables, fruits, vegetables and, in general, vegetables; a quarter will correspond to the protein (the fish in this case) and another quarter to high-quality carbohydrate. Those are the right steps.”