Is Mochi Healthy? The Whys and Why Nots

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Mochi is a popular cake made famous in Japan and now consumed in many cultures, including the U.S. and the U.K. But many are left wondering, “Is mochi healthy?” Today, we will examine the makeup of mochi. Let’s also look at the nutritional profile of this appetizing dish to see if mochi can indeed be considered healthy. 

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Japanese mochi cake on a wooden board.

What Is Mochi?

Mochi is a popular rice cake that is made of pounded short-grain glutinous rice known as mochigome. As the rice is pounded it becomes a moldable texture which allows it to be shaped.

Mochi is often combined with ingredients like sugar, cornstarch, and water, and can be served as a sweet dish or a savory dish– with the latter commonly served with soy and wrapped in seaweed or other edible leaves. 

Are Mochi Unhealthy?

The answer to whether or not mochi can actually be considered healthy depends on three factors: the amount of mochi eaten, how it is served, and what ingredients were added. 

In general, mochi in and of itself is known to be a healthy and very filling snack. Most single servings of mochi contain about 100 calories. If there is sugar or other ingredients added, the amount of calories present in each mochi will either be more or less than 100 calories. 

In any event, eating a few pieces of mochi each day shouldn’t wreak much havoc on your health. However, like with anything, you’ll want to watch how much mochi you consume, especially when eating high sugar varieties like those that contain ice cream and other tempting ingredients.

green mochi

How Healthy Is Mochi?

Although some types of mochi can get unhealthy pretty quickly depending on the ingredients added, most mochi types, especially those that are authentic, are actually quite good for your health.

The average mochi contains a variety of nutrients that are beneficial to your health. Mochi served with seaweed will offer riboflavin, iron, calcium, magnesium, Vitamin A, K, and E, as well as a slew of other healthful vitamins that can give your body a major boost. 

In addition, mochi is known to be extremely low in saturated fat and cholesterol, gluten-free, and packed with protein. Thus, mochi can definitely be considered healthy.

But it really does depend on the brand, ingredients, and how much you eat. 

Remember that many types of mochi sold in the U.S. and U.K. are often full of sugar. As such, you should be leery of eating a lot of mochi if you are on a diet, have difficulty controlling your blood sugar levels, or have health restrictions. 

Mochi of any kind should not be consumed by the elderly or by young children, as its texture of it can be a choking hazard

Is Mochi Good For Weight Loss?

Whether or not mochi is good for weight loss will heavily depend on portion size and the type of mochi eaten. Obviously, if you are eating sugar-laden mochi ice cream in large portions, then no, mochi is not good for weight loss.

Like with anything else, if you’re able to restrain yourself by eating only one or two mochis per day, you will be unlikely to gain much weight. You should also strive to consume mochi varieties that aren’t too high in sugar, such as those served with soy sauce and seaweed, in order to keep your caloric intake low. 

What Is the Healthiest Mochi?

The healthiest mochi will be the one with the least amount of sugar. Thus, a mochi with layered ice cream likely isn’t your best bet when it comes to health benefits. 

To get the most out of your mochi, you may wish to serve up mochi the savory way, by adding to it soy sauce and seaweed, or placing it in ozoni. Not only are you getting the benefits of the mochi itself, but you are also reaping the benefits of the seaweed and other nutritious pairings you may serve alongside your mochi dish. 

mochi 2

Is Mochi High in Sugar?

Mochi can be high in sugar, but again, it depends on the variety.

In most cases, mochi only contains anywhere from 6-13 grams of sugar. Depending on the diet you’re on, this may be too much. But how much is too much will depend on how much mochi you eat. 

One mochi shouldn’t do much harm, but eating ten mochi at 6-13 grams of sugar could spell trouble. People watching their weight or struggling with blood sugar levels should aim to eat mochi only in moderation, especially if the variety being eaten is high in sugar. 

How Much Fat is in Mochi?

Mochi has very little fat, typically weighing in at only 1 gram per mochi. Some forms of mochi ice cream may have a slightly higher fat content, but that is usually due to the ice cream itself, and not the mochi. 

As mentioned before, one of the reasons mochi is nutritionally attractive is because it is low in saturated fat and is cholesterol-free. Thus, fat isn’t something you typically have to be too concerned about when enjoying mochi; unless of course, it is combined with a fatty side dish or ingredient. 

different colored mochi

Do Rice Cakes Make You Fat?

Rice cakes in the form of mochi could make you fat if you eat too many of them. Because mochi is made from pounded short-grain rice, the carbohydrate content in them is high. Thus, eating too much mochi will likely cause you to consume too many carbs which can translate to weight gain over time.

Rather than eat too many, try to limit yourself to only 2-3 mochi per day. Even less, to control weight gain.

Is Mochi Keto Friendly?

Mochi isn’t keto-friendly in most instances. Why? Because the keto diet is a low-carb diet similar to the Atkins diet. As such, the keto diet focuses on lowering your intake of sugars and carbs to lose fat. By eating mochi, you are usually getting anywhere from 14-24 carbs in a single mochi. Some varieties containing ice cream and additional sugar can get even higher than that!

As such, traditional mochi should be off-limits to those on a keto diet. Especially when it comes to eating multiple mochis within a day. You may, however, be able to make alterations to mochi recipes to help it better fit your keto dietary needs.

Is Red Bean Mochi Healthy?

Red bean mochi is typically made from red bean paste, aka adzuki.

Adzuki has its own benefits including weight loss, lowering the risk for type 2 diabetes, and improved digestion. Still, most red bean mochi has sugar included to help with the taste. 

If sugar and carbs are of concern, you’ll want to skip red bean mochi. However, if these factors aren’t much of an issue for you, you can consider yourself lucky to have found a low-calorie, low-fat, and nutritionally rich dessert to enjoy in reasonable portions.

Is Green Tea Mochi Healthy?

Green tea mochi can be healthy because green tea, on its own, is very healthy. In fact, green tea is promoted as being one of the healthiest drinks you can drink in the world. Add to that mochi’s natural health benefits, and you’ve got a healthy dessert at your fingertips…although portion control is everything!

Note: Remember that though mochi is “healthy” in one sense, it may not translate that way for some. If you are on a keto or otherwise low carb or low sugar diet, you’ll want to steer clear of green tea mochi. In fact, avoid any other mochi variety for that matter! 

1 X Royal Family Japanese Green Tea Mochi - 7.4 Oz / 210g

Can Mochi Make You Sick?

Because of the texture of mochi, it is extremely important that you chew your mochi very well. Neglecting to do so can lead to unsavory consequences such as an upset stomach, or in severe cases, obstructed bowels

Remember that nearly any food can make you sick if it is contaminated or consumed well past its expiry date. In fact, homemade mochi is said to only be good 24 hours after making it. Thus, we recommend you keep your mochi fresh, abide by expiry dates, and be sure to chew your mochi very well to aid in better digestion.  

Is Mochi Dangerous?

Mochi can be extremely dangerous. The reason mochi is not that it will negatively impact your health per se. It is because mochi can be difficult to chew. 

Because of the thick, gooey, and chewy nature of mochi, those who neglect to properly chew it may end up choking on it and losing their lives. 

In fact, Japanese authorities have taken it upon themselves to warn those celebrating certain holidays by consuming mochi to be very careful to only bite off as much as they can chew at a time. 

Thus, mochi can prove to be deadly in some cases. Those who are young children, toddlers, and the elderly should not consume mochi at all. 

Is Mochi Healthy? Well, Kind of… 

So, is mochi healthy? Depends on who you ask!

Though mochi has multiple health benefits including being low in saturated fat and cholesterol, some mochi varieties are high in sugar and carbohydrates. These can lead to weight gain when consumed in excess. If you are concerned about whether or not mochi is a good fit for your diet, consider speaking with a healthcare professional for tailored advice related to your health and dietary needs. 

Additional reading:

By Anna

Hey, I’m Anna; writer, editor and amateur cook extraordinaire! Food has been my life and my passion for the most of my life – it’s crazy to think I didn’t pursue a career in cooking. I’m obsessed! However, keeping cooking as an obsessive hobby has worked for me – my passion grows as the years pass by – maybe I wouldn’t say the same if it was also my day job! I hope you find cooking inspiration, entertainment and “stop and think interesting tid-bits” throughout my writing – and I’d love to hear from you if you’ve got anything you want to share. Food feeds the soul – so get eating!

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