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Are poké bowls really healthy?

by Grace Sundram

Poké bowls (pronounced as poh-kay) are commonly enjoyed in Hawaii as it is one of the main dishes of Native Hawaiian cuisine. However, the hype of this raw fish dish has made its mark in many countries including Malaysia making it a popular food-trend among the millennials. The thing is everyone loves hopping on the bandwagon especially when something screams “healthy” but is poké bowl really healthy though? Or is it just an overrated dish that just looks pretty on Instagram feeds?

What is poké bowl? 


It is a refreshing traditional Hawaiian dish that is usually served with raw fish such as salmon or tuna over brown rice, quinoa or baby greens. Topping such as mangoes, seaweed salad, almonds, carrots and more are added to make the dish even healthier and balanced.

Popular protein choice 


Although some enjoy customising their poké bowls with chicken, the typical poké protein options are usually the raw seafood such as salmon, tuna and cooked shrimp. Whilst for vegans, it’s tofu.

Which poké bowl dressing is healthier?


Try going for simple dressings such as lemon or lime squeeze, extra virgin olive oil or miso. The more ‘undressed’ and natural the bowl is, the healthier it will be. Besides, all those creamy dressings can actually bump up the calorie count.

Again, are poké bowls healthy?


Poké bowls are generally healthy but only if it is built the right way. It has to have the right balance serving size to make it an overall clean and lean meal. For instance, avoid any fried ingredients, carbs and any creamy dressing such as monster-racha or mayonnaise. Instead, replace it with raw fish, load up on the greens and good fats like avocado, nuts, kimchi and seeds.

Health benefits


A healthy dish is certainly more than just a calorie count that is low.

Poké bowls are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can help lower the risk of stroke and blood pressure. Nonetheless, consuming raw tuna and salmon on a daily basis can actually boost mercury levels so it’s advisable to switch to chicken from time to time.

Here’s how I typically build my poké bowl:


For my base, I will swap the rice option with some leafy greens (10 calories) whereas my protein choice would usually either be the tuna or salmon (140 calories). It depends on what I feel like having on that day. As for my sides, I tend to go for some edamame (40 calories), seaweed salad (130 calories), avocado (70 calories) and almonds (78 calories). Sometimes I might add on pickled radish or cucumber (28 calories).

When it comes to the poké dressings, it’ll be the lime squeeze (11 calories). Lastly, my usual toppings would be coriander (4 calories) and seaweed flakes (20 calories). 

Total calories: 531 calories
Healthy poke bowls range from 500 – 700 calories.

Where can you get poké bowls in the Klang Valley?


Kubis and Kale at Bandar Sunway.

Agrain by Hale at Bangsar South.

Rubberduck at Hartamas.

Kurin at Nu Sentral Mall.

Eatomo at Publika.


It is healthy but again, it all depends on the ingredients you choose to include in your bowl.

Pictures by Timolina, Jonathan Borba, Kubis and Kale & Ella Ollson

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