While eel is considered to be an expensive delicacy in Japan, most of us Westerners would be turned off by the thought of eating eel – and for good reason!
Here are some reasons why you shouldn’t eat eel unless you’re visiting Japan and willing to try some of their delicious cuisines!
Are There Eels In The USA?
The short answer is no, not in any significant numbers, at least for now. American eels (Anguilla Rostrata) live in freshwater rivers and streams up and down eastern North America, but there are eels around here!
In fact, you can even order freshly-caught live European eels (Anguilla ) shipped straight to your door if you’re looking for a taste of home while traveling abroad.
These non-native species are considered invasive in parts of Europe, so it may be some time before they become a fixture on menus across America.
Where Do American Eels Live?
Long eels can be anywhere from six to 12 feet long and live mostly in freshwater, though they are sometimes seen in brackish water. (They do not inhabit saltwater.) They spend most of their lives hiding beneath rocks or logs near bodies of water.
However, once these fish are mature enough to breed, they will travel downstream toward large lakes or oceans.
At that point, it’s typical for them to find a mate and reproduce for about two weeks—the female eel lays between 30,000 and 1 million eggs during this time period.
Afterward, adults return upstream where they continue to hide out in preparation for breeding again next year.
Is It Safe To Eat American Eel?
Freshwater eels like American eels, Asian eels, and European eels are wild-caught fish.
The flesh is a bit gelatinous, but otherwise has many of the same benefits that sea bream and cod do. It is high in selenium and vitamin B12 while low in calories, sodium, carbohydrates, and fat.
However, freshwater eels can be high in mercury because they tend to feed on smaller fish that have accumulated mercury from other sources.
If you’re considering eating freshwater eel it’s best to eat a single serving no more than once or twice per month for women and even less for men due to their higher mercury load.
This applies even if your source is local as some waterways have significantly more contamination than others.
Also, Read – Is Eating Snake Dangerous?
What Does American Eel Taste Like?
When cooked, American eel has a firm, tender texture and mild flavor. It works well in stews and is often used in other traditional dishes (such as eel sushi rolls).
If you’re not sure how to prepare American eel but are curious about trying it, talk to your local fishmonger or restaurant owner.
They’ll likely have some tips on cooking techniques that go along with their customer preferences.
If they don’t know, they might be able to make a few recommendations!
Even if you’re already familiar with eating prepared eels, make sure you check out any health warnings that go along with your purchase (for example, pregnant women should avoid raw or undercooked eels).
Eel Nutritional Value
Eels are an extremely healthy food, especially when eaten in moderation. They are a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, contain anti-inflammatory properties, and have been used for centuries as a natural remedy for inflammation.
Another reason eels are so healthy is that they don’t retain any heavy metals or toxins from water pollutants.
Most fish accumulate mercury as they swim around in polluted waters—which ends up poisoning us—but eels’ ability to absorb oxygen through their skin allows them to release it before being consumed. This means that an eel fillet is actually lower in mercury than many seafood options.
Is Eel High in Mercury?
Although eels are high in omega-3 fatty acids, they can be contaminated with high levels of mercury.
Mercury is a harmful substance that comes from coal-burning, certain types of fish, and other natural processes.
It builds up in people’s bodies over time and can damage organs, especially when mercury concentrations exceed recommended safe levels.
If you eat eel often or in large quantities, your body may become exposed to unsafe levels of mercury.
Therefore, it’s best to minimize your intake of eel if you have concerns about mercury exposure.
If you don’t have an elevated risk for mercury poisoning or cardiovascular disease, an occasional serving should pose no serious health problems for you.
Can American Eels Kill You?
The question of whether or not American eels are poisonous is one of those things that most people don’t even bother to think about.
After all, why would they be? There’s no reason why they should be poisonous.
However, there have been reports of three people being hospitalized as a result of handling them – and one case where a man died after eating an eel stew.
So, just what do we know about these animals, and what do we think caused these cases of illness and death?
Common mistakes while eating eels
The first of many common mistakes that occur when people eat eels is under-cooking them.
It’s actually very easy to cook an eel correctly if you remember a few simple rules. First, fry your eels in fat until they are golden brown and crispy.
This step will help seal in all those delicious juices and make sure that your eels don’t taste like rubber.
Second, don’t forget to remove some of those smaller bones—you won’t be able to see them but trust me; there are plenty of places for your teeth to go fishing once you rip off a piece of fried fish skin.
Things to consider while eating eels
eels are considered by many to be a delicacy in some cultures, and are also eaten regularly in Japan; eels contain vitamins and minerals such as zinc, potassium, and B vitamins.
However, there is no clear scientific consensus that eels are either healthy or unhealthy food.
Consuming certain types of eels can cause toxic levels of methylmercury to build up in your body, which is why you should avoid eating sharks and swordfish.
The blue (also known as common) or European eel lives for 10 to 20 years and grows to lengths of 60–100 cm; new studies have shown that common eels have acute senses which helps them to avoid predators.
The eel is a freshwater and saltwater fish. They are called elvers during their early lives when they live in freshwater.
Eels are catadromous, meaning that they are born in freshwater, migrate to living in salt water, then return to freshwater to reproduce.
They begin life as eggs that hatch in freshwater streams or lakes with adequate current and sufficient food supply.
As larvae or elvers, eels (called glass eels) make up 80% of their diet by eating organisms such as insect larvae and crustaceans while growing until they reach sexual maturity at age 3 to 6 years old and have grown almost 2 feet long.