Restaurants and sushi bars frequently serve raw or barely cooked tuna.
Although this fish is very healthy and may offer a lot of health advantages, you might be unsure about whether eating it raw is safe.
This article discusses the possible risks of consuming raw tuna as well as safe preparation methods.
Read on to learn more.
✅ When handled carefully and frozen to kill parasites, raw tuna is typically safe.
✅ Despite the high amounts of mercury in some species, tuna is quite healthy and is best consumed raw in moderation.
✅ Avoid eating raw tuna if you’re a youngster, an elderly person, pregnant, breastfeeding, or have a damaged immune system.
Tuna varieties and nutrition
The saltwater fish known as tuna is utilized in dishes all around the world. Skipjack, albacore, yellowfin, bluefin, and bigeye are just a few of the varieties. Their size, color, and flavor vary.
A lean protein that is very healthy is tuna. Exactly 56 grams of albacore tuna weighs 2 ounces.
- 70 Calories
- 0 grams of carbs
- 13 grams of protein
- 2 grams of fat
Omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for your heart and brain and may help combat inflammation, account for the majority of the fat in tuna.
In addition, iron, potassium, and B vitamins are included in tuna. Selenium, a trace mineral that functions as an antioxidant and may lower your risk of heart disease and other chronic illnesses, is also abundant in it and is a great source of selenium.
While fresh tuna is frequently served rare or raw, canned tuna is cooked during processing. The Japanese meals sushi and sashimi, which include rice, raw fish, veggies, and seaweed, frequently include raw tuna.
Even though tuna is very nutritious, there are some hazards associated with eating it raw. This is due to the possibility of raw fish containing parasites like Opisthorchiidae and Anisakadie, which can infect humans and lead to sickness. Depending on the type, parasites in raw fish can result in gastrointestinal infections that cause diarrhea, vomiting, fever, and other foodborne disorders.
A study discovered that Kudoa hexapunctata, a parasite that causes diarrhea in humans, was present in 64% of samples of immature Pacific bluefin tuna from Japanese seas. Another study found comparable outcomes and demonstrated the presence of other parasites from the Kudoa family, which are known to cause food illness, in samples of both bluefin and yellowfin tuna from the Pacific Ocean.
Last but not least, a study of tuna caught in Iranian coastal waters revealed that 89% of the samples included parasites that can attach to the human stomach and intestines and cause anisakiasis, a condition characterized by bloody feces, vomiting, and stomach pain.
Where the fish is caught most likely affects the likelihood of parasite infection from eating tuna. Additionally, how something is handled and prepared can impact whether parasites are transmitted.
Cooking or freezing can kill the majority of parasites. Therefore, by handling raw tuna properly, parasite diseases can be avoided.
Mercury levels could be high.
Some tuna kinds may have high levels of mercury, a heavy metal that enters the ocean as a result of pollution. Being higher up the food chain and consuming mercury-containing smaller fish causes it to build up over time in tuna.
Large kinds of tuna like albacore, yellowfin, bluefin, and bigeye are hence frequently rich in mercury. These kinds account for the majority of the raw tuna used in steaks, sushi, and sashimi dishes.
In fact, research in the northeastern United States that examined 100 samples of raw tuna sushi found that the average mercury content surpassed the suggested daily limit for mercury in both the United States and Japan.
Consuming excessive amounts of raw tuna can result in high mercury levels in the body, which can harm your heart and brain and cause other major health problems.
Who is not to consume raw tuna?
You shouldn’t consume raw tuna if you’re a pregnant or nursing woman, a child, an elderly person, have a damaged immune system, or are receiving cancer treatment. If these populations are exposed to parasites from raw or undercooked tuna, they are more likely to develop foodborne diseases.
Additionally, since both raw and cooked tuna can contain high levels of mercury, pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children should limit or avoid eating it. However, as most varieties of tuna exceed the daily limit for mercury consumption advised by health authorities in the United States and other nations, all adults should generally exercise caution while consuming tuna.
Consuming tuna in moderation is advised for both cooked and raw forms. To get enough omega-3 fatty acids, individuals should consume 3-5 ounces (85-140 grams) of fish two to three times each week. Focus on fish that are lower in mercury, like salmon, cod, or crab, and only consume tuna occasionally to comply with this recommendation.
How to consume raw tuna safely
The easiest approach to get rid of parasites and reduce your chance of contracting a foodborne illness is to cook tuna. However, it is still safe to consume raw tuna.
To get rid of parasites, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests freezing raw tuna in one of the following ways.
- 7 days of freezing at or below -4 °F (-20 °C)
- freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or lower until solid, then storing for 15 hours at that temperature
- freezing at -31°F (-35°C) or lower until solid, then stored for 24 hours at -4°F (-20°C) or lower.
Before eating, raw tuna that has been frozen should first defrost in the fridge.
The majority of parasites will probably be killed by using this procedure, but there is a slight possibility that not all parasites will be removed. The majority of eateries that offer sushi or other types of raw tuna adhere to the FDA’s freezing guidelines. Ask for further information and only consume raw tuna from reputed establishments if you have any concerns about how it was prepared.
Look for a trustworthy fishmonger who is informed about the origin of their fish and how it is handled if you intend to prepare a raw tuna dish at home.