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Can You Eat a Jellyfish?

Jellyfish are umbrella shaped sea creatures that are present in oceans all over the world. There is a wide range of species, and they are found in many different sizes. Large fish and turtles eat jellyfish for food and so can we. Eating jellyfish is especially common in Asian countries, and they can be enjoyed in a variety of different ways. Jellyfish are a good source of protein and are rich in vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals. Jellyfish must be specially prepared in order to be safely eaten.

Where is eating jellyfish most popular?

The jellyfish is a unique sea creature that is not actually a fish. It lacks a brain or spinal column, and is mostly content to drift with ocean currents. They often cluster together in packs called blooms. These blooms can survive in all temperatures of water, from the warm Pacific to the icy Arctic. Not all jellyfish sting, but the ones that do use special cells in their tentacles to paralyze their prey. Jellyfish can also be prey to larger marine life such as large fish and sea turtles. 

Over 10 species of jellyfish are known to be safe for human consumption. Other types should be avoided because they are too toxic. One of the most sought after species of edible jellyfish is the flame jellyfish. Overall, harvesting and eating jellyfish is most popular in Asian countries. Dishes made of jellyfish are considered to be a delicacy. Jellyfish can also be used in traditional medicine as a remedy for muscle aches. 

Are there nutritional benefits to eating jellyfish?

Yes! Jellyfish are low in both calories and fat, and they are high in protein. Jellyfish are a good source of selenium, iron, and choline. They are also rich in omega-3 fatty acids which have been linked to lowering heart disease. Selenium is an antioxidant which helps cells fight damage caused by free radicals. Iron is an important component in the blood for carrying oxygen. Choline is also found in egg yolks, and is a building block for cell membranes and used for energy. 

Jellyfish are also naturally high in collagen which gives skin its elasticity and firmness. Collagen is also found in tendons and cartilage. It is thought that supplementing with collagen can help improve skin appearance and mobility in the joints. 

Are there any problems with eating jellyfish?

Jellyfish are not endangered. In fact, the huge numbers of jellyfish in blooms that often appear offshore are a problem. Beaches can be closed down due to the number of people being stung. Jellyfish blooms can also be a concern for fish hatcheries and farms. Jellyfish have been known to kill off a large number of their occupants.

Jellyfish consumption would be encouraged to help keep their population down. However, the popularity of jellyfish dishes remains localized to Asian countries such as Korea, Japan, and China. Western countries are too put off by their slimy texture, alien appearance, and the fear that their stings can incite in us.

It is common for a severe allergic reaction to occur in the human body after being stung by a jellyfish, but this can also occur when eating them. This has even happened after eating cooked jellyfish. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can be low blood pressure, heart failure, and even death. Allergic reactions after eating jellyfish seem to be more common after having been stung by one, so use caution when deciding to consume one. 

Jellyfish should only be purchased and eaten from reputable sources to ensure they are cleaned and processed properly. Bacteria have been found on the surface of jellyfish, and they have caused infection outbreaks in salmon farms. 

One additional concern deals with the way jellyfish are preserved. It is common to salt and brine them because jellyfish flesh has no flavor on its own. One common method is using alum which contains aluminum. If ingesting a lot of salted jellyfish, it is possible to accumulate too much aluminum in the body. Although the effects of high aluminum are still unknown, it has been theorized to cause Alzheimer’s disease, diarrhea, or other bowel conditions. 

How is jellyfish prepared?

There are many ways to eat jellyfish. Use them in salads, mixed with noodles or rice dishes, or even sweetened in soy sauce or sugar. Usually the tentacles are removed and the bell shaped body is what is consumed. Although jellyfish can be eaten raw, it is not recommended unless prepared by an expert to ensure proper cleaning and preparation. For instance, you may find raw jellyfish at a sushi restaurant. 

The more popular method of eating jellyfish is to brine it. Jellyfish begin to spoil rapidly once they are caught and must be prepared immediately. Brining or pickling jellyfish in salt or vinegar will help to preserve it. The taste of a jellyfish is faintly salty, and the texture is chewy and slimy. It is often compared to an oyster. 

Another common way to prepare jellyfish is by dehydrating it. This process uses aluminum salts and can take up to a month. This method preserves the texture of the jellyfish and kills any pathogens that may be present. 

Conclusion

Jellyfish are gelatinous marine creatures that are found floating on the currents in every ocean in the world. Overpopulation of jellyfish is a rising concern with the number of stings increasing each year. 

There are a few species of edible jellyfish. Their consumption has been popular in Asian cuisine for years, and is slowly catching on with the rest of the world. In Asian countries such as Japan, China, and Korea, jellyfish can be eaten raw as sushi, pickled in salads, or dried by salting. In Italy, frying jellyfish has become a popular method. 

Jellyfish are a healthy food source which is low in calories and fat and high in protein. They are also a good source of iron, selenium, and choline. 

It is not recommended to eat jellyfish if previously stung by one, as this can increase the chance of a serious allergic reaction. Other precautions include buying from a responsible source that will ensure the jellyfish is clean and prepared properly. 

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