As a sushi and lox enthusiast, I eat them pretty much whenever they’re offered. Recently, I have been eating a lot of raw fish and I started to think if I was putting myself at risk for health issues. Should we be limiting ourselves on the raw fish intake? Are we consuming too much raw fish?
I read an article about the risks of consuming raw fish. It talks about how since the beginning of time we, as human beings, have been consuming raw fish, but does that mean that’s it’s “okay”?
One of the first issues they talk about is that we eat most of the fish coming from the water we pollute. This is most definitely a concern especially when talking about the chemical methylmercury. This found in a lot of fish whether it be cooked or raw. Mercury is always a concern when consuming fish.
Another issue is food borne illness which causes severe vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. Most of the food poisoning that comes from raw fish intake is salmonella and vibrio vulnificus. It’s highlighted that for people who are oyster fans need to be aware of risk for vibrio infections. Vibrio vulnificus is a very serious bacterium that thrives in warm seawater and is not a result of pollution. Luckily, it’s not very common, but this infection was 43 percent higher in 2012 then in 2006-2008.
Some people that have a higher risk of food borne illness are people that have / are…
- Compromised immune systems
- Decreased stomach acidity
- Pregnant women
- Young children
- Older adults
The best way to avoid food borne illness is to steer clear of raw fish, or if you do eat raw fish, eat ones that have been frozen previously.
I was also curious about the amount of consumption. I read that if you are consuming raw fish, or even cooked fish, 6 times a week you could be getting sick from mercury or get mercury poisoning. Mercury poisoning can harm the heart, brain, lungs, immune system, and kidneys.
Some symptoms include:
- Impairment of peripheral vision
- “Pins and needles” feelings
- Lack of coordination
- Impairment of speech
- Muscle weakness
Despite the negative (potential) effects of raw fish consumption, fish does have a lot of benefits. It is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which improve heart health. It is also a low calorie snack and low in fat. Also, eating a lot of fish reducing your risk of dying of a heart attack by 1/3 !
I think if you’re someone who loves sushi and lox as I do, try and limit yourself per week. Fish is a great food to eat because of the health benefits. Here’s a list of mercury-rich fish so that you can be aware and safe!
- Orange roughy
- Ahi tuna
- Bigeye tuna