Restaurants and sushi bars frequently offer raw or undercooked tuna. This fish is packed with nutrients and have various health advantages.
It is also used as a common ingredient in different dishes around the globe; however, many folks are concerned about the safety of consuming raw.
Health Benefits of Tuna
Tuna is a good source of iron, potassium, and B vitamins.
It’s packed with selenium, an antioxidant trace mineral that can lower your risk of heart disease and other long-term health issues.
Moreover, it is an excellent protein source, low in fat. Omega-3 fatty acids make up the majority of the fat in tuna.
They are essential for the health of your heart and brain.
Health Hazards of Tuna
You need to be aware of the downside of consuming raw tuna. Look out for the following things:
1. Infected with Parasites
Even though tuna is a healthful food, consuming it raw might offer specific health hazards. It includes human pathogens like Anisakadie and Opisthorchiidae, which can harm your body. These parasites can cause foodborne diseases, such as diarrhea, vomiting, or fever.
The gravity of these symptoms depends solely on the acting parasite.
According to a study, the infectious parasite Kudoa hexapunctata has been found in 64% of young Pacific bluefin tuna samples from Japanese waters (1). Researchers found that samples of Pacific Ocean tuna from different species contained parasites known to cause food poisoning.
On the other hand, different parasites can cause gastrointestinal anisakiasis that causes bloody stool, vomiting, and stomach pain (2).
The risk of parasitic infection may vary depending on where the tuna is caught. Furthermore, how parasites are handled and prepared can significantly impact whether or not they are transmitted. Cooking or freezing can kill most parasites.
2. Excessive Mercury Levels
Mercury is a heavy element that ends up in ocean waters due to pollution. This element can be found excessively in certain types of tuna, such as bluefin, bigeye, and yellowfin. These types of tuna account for most of the raw fish used in sushi, sashimi, and steaks. If eaten raw, it can be harmful to the human body. You risk accumulating toxic levels of mercury in your body, which can harm your brain and heart.
Therefore, raw tuna is not recommended for anyone for anybody with an impaired immune system, pregnant or nursing women, children, weak elderly, and cancer patients. It poses a particular threat to the health of these people because of the parasites it contains.
Pregnant and lactating women are predominantly vulnerable to mercury poisoning and should restrict or avoid tuna in both its raw and cooked forms.
Most kinds of tuna exceed the recommended daily mercury consumption limit by health authorities in the United States. Therefore, everyone should be cautious while eating tuna. Moderation is the key when it comes to raw and cooked tuna consumption.
How Often Should You Consume Tuna?
It would help if you consumed tuna at least twice or thrice a week to meet your omega-3 fatty acid intake requirements. Avoid mercury-heavy tuna and stick to salmon and cod instead.
How to Consume Raw Tuna Safely
Cooking tuna removes parasites and reduces your chance of becoming sick from eating it. Even so, it is feasible to eat raw tuna without risk.
According to the FDA, the best method of removing parasites from raw tuna is to freeze it for seven days (3). Thaw any frozen raw tuna in the refrigerator before consuming it. This approach is expected to kill most parasites; however, some parasites might not completely go away. Even so, most sushi establishments adhere to the FDA’s guidelines on freezing raw tuna.
Never consume raw tuna from places if you’re worried about being safe. A good fishmonger will know where their fish comes from and how it is prepared. Search the market properly and ask questions before buying canned or frozen tuna. If you plan on consuming a raw tuna meal at home, you should only go for reputed vendors.
Should You Eat Raw Tuna From a Grocery Store?
There is a meaty flavor and appearance to tuna. It consists of firm, thick, and dark or brightly red steaks that everyone loves. If you are one of them, ensure to shop from a retailer that buys its products from environmentally friendly sources.
It would help if you only consumed sushi-grade or sashimi-grade tuna steak raw from the grocery store. Sashimi and sushi made with tuna are better than those made with other types of fish since they were cleaned and frozen promptly while still on the boat.
However, they are not guaranteed to be free of parasites. Always check the label. Don’t eat it raw if the label doesn’t say so. The level of excellence can only be determined if the company has given its approval or sealed the box.
Check for Scales on the Meat before Cooking
Clean the meat with water. You can also use soap if the dirt or scales persist. If you want to make the meat more soft and tasty, marinate it. The tuna can be brushed with olive oil or melted butter if you don’t have time to cook it.
Make Sure to Add Your Preferred Herbs, Salt, and Pepper to Your Dish
It’s greasy, but if made correctly, it may be delicious. Culinary artistry is not a child’s play. Therefore, you should learn how to tackle the meat before cooking it. You may be unable to stand the tuna if you cook it for a short time. On the other hand, you may overcook it if you keep it on the stove for a tad longer.
What is the Ideal Way to Consume Raw Tuna?
In most cases, people enjoy medium-rare tuna, severed meat with a raw center. On the contrary, some people prefer raw tuna. There is no ideal way to consume it; it depends on your preference. However, medium-rare tuna is a widely popular mode of consumption when it comes to eating tuna.
Don’t cook the tuna all the way through to avoid overcooking it. Sear it after a brief cook in a frying pan. It will not taste as good if it is fully cooked or overdone. Grilling is the best method for searing. Avoid overcooking it if you are sensitive to the flavor of medium-rare tuna.
Is There a Difference between Raw and Cooked Tuna?
If you’ve had raw and cooked tuna, you may question if there are any advantages to eating raw tuna. Mishandling raw tuna before serving increases the risk of foodborne disease transmission, even though the nutritional value and health benefits are the same.
Even so, most of the time, cooked tuna isn’t really cooked. It is pan-seared while the inside is still raw to maintain the delicate flavor and texture of the tuna. This means that cooked and raw tuna have the same nutritional value and health advantages.
Lean proteins and calories abound in tuna, which has low carbohydrate and fat content. In addition, it provides nutritional iron, potassium, and B vitamins. Some other nutrients include selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. Now how you choose to consume it is up to you.
When preparing raw tuna steaks at home, you must understand the guidelines, acceptable levels, and defrosting procedures in their entirety. Temperature-dependent freeze-drying of tuna is required to ensure it is safe to eat.
How Safe is it to Consume Raw Tuna?
There is no correct answer to this question. The nutrition of the individual in question is a significant factor. However, raw tuna should only be consumed as a delicacy, not as a regular part of your diet. Look for additional sources instead of relying solely on tuna to satisfy your omega-3 fatty acid needs.
Some people believe that eating raw tuna in any form is a risk that should be avoided. As mentioned above, pregnant women and those with impaired immune systems should avoid it at all costs. Elderly and small children may also be in danger if they incorporate it into their daily diet. Breastfeeding moms are likewise advised not to eat it to avoid contaminating their children.
Raw tuna is generally not recommended for consumption unless you are in excellent health. It’s not worth the danger. Cooked or canned tuna might be a better choice.
Tuna can be eaten raw, but only if done so cautiously and in moderation. Eating large amounts of raw tuna steak is not considered healthy due to high mercury levels and the danger of parasites.
Cooked tuna is a better option if you are ill, as it provides many of the same nutritional advantages as raw tuna but without the more serious danger.
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How Does Raw Tuna Look?
Fresh raw tuna is a striking contrast to the pale, cooked tuna commonly found in cans. Different tuna species have different color grades depending on the amount of fat in the fish. This explains why bluefin’s pink color is more akin to watermelon than coral. Before canning, manufacturers use carbon oxide to preserve the tuna’s color.
Can Cats Eat Raw Tuna?
Cats are just as sensitive as humans. If given tainted food, they are at risk of getting sick. Raw tuna can potentially be infected with germs; therefore, it’s best to avoid giving it to your cat.
Additionally, raw tuna contains thiaminase enzyme, like all other raw fish. This enzyme affects B vitamins in cats. Additionally, it can cause seizures, coma, and other neurological diseases. Your furry little friend can die from vitamin deficiency.
How Much Raw Tuna Can You Consume?
The amount of raw tuna safe to eat depends on your weight. You should drink water in moderation along with other foods. This regulation also applies to tuna, having high mercury content and can cause mercury poisoning in the body if consumed in excess. An average adult should only consume 520 grams of tuna every week. This quantity should be spread over the week rather than ingested all at once.
Is Frozen Tuna Safe to Eat?
According to FDA guidelines, raw tuna is perfectly safe to eat. Rather than eating raw tuna straight from the can, it’s best to consume it defrosted and thawed beforehand.