What You Should Know Before Eating Raw Tuna

With Americans eating tuna regularly whether as a spicy tuna roll from their favorite sushi joint or as a seared ahi tuna steak off the backyard grill, it's good to know that tuna provides many health benefits. According to WebMD, it's full of fatty acids that help to lower heart disease, as well as vitamins that are critical for bone health. It can even help with weight loss. WebMD also states that tuna is a great source of important vitamins like D and B12, the latter of which helps humans form new blood cells and prevents the development of anemia. Lastly, per WebMD, tuna contains iron, vitamin B6, potassium, selenium and iodine.

Tuna is also known to have a high level of omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health. The Mayo Clinic states that eating at least two servings of fish, including tuna, a week could reduce the risk of heart disease. The saltwater fish is even good for weight loss, per Live Strong, which cites tuna's low calories, yet high amount of protein. 

For decades, Americans have consumed canned tuna, but have increasingly taken to including foods that include raw tuna, like sushi, as a part of their diets. More restaurants are serving rare to medium-rare ahi tuna incorporated into poke bowls or tacos. With more people consuming raw tuna in different ways, it raises the question of if raw tuna safe to eat.

Eating raw tuna poses some risks

The main concern about eating raw tuna is the potential to ingest parasites and mercury. CBS News reports that cases of the anisakiasis parasite, which embeds itself in people's stomachs and is contracted from eating raw fish were increasing in Western countries. Symptoms caused by the anisakiasis parasite include nausea, bowel issues, abdominal inflammation, per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other parasites found in raw fish can result in symptoms like fever, diarrhea and vomiting, per Healthline.

Another common concern when eating raw fish is mercury poisoning. Mercury, according to Medical News Today, is odorless and invisible. The big concern is if mercury gets in the human body, a neurotoxin it contains can damage the brain and nervous system. Medical News Today states that mercury is of biggest concern to pregnant women and small children. Mercury can impact a child's neurodevelopment.

Even though there is risk involved with eating raw fish, there are steps you can take to avoid health issues. MasterClass states that you should make sure that you are eating fresh, high-quality fish or fish that was frozen right after it was caught, both of which reduces the chances that it contains parasites.

So the next time you want to eat raw tuna it's OK to ask where the fish was caught, how it was handled, and if it was frozen.