Like poultry, fish is a lean, low-calorie source of protein and a healthy addition to your diet. But even more than other types of meat, the benefits of fish depend on its freshness. Get a bad cut of cod and no amount of omega-3s are worth the stomach ache.
That’s why it’s so essential to know the signs that will help you spot a lack of freshness in fish. In particular, experts say there is a dead sign that your fish is past its prime and may even be contaminated with harmful bacteria or parasites. Read on to find out what to watch out for on your fish if you want to avoid serious illness.
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If you look at your plate and notice your fish’s eyes are white, cloudy, or cloudy, experts say you should discard it immediately. “Always buy a fish with the head on so you can check the eyes; they should be clear and bulging,” advises New York magazine.
Cloudy eyes can be the result of poor water quality, bacterial or parasitic buildup, nutritional deficiencies, or old age. Additionally, if a fish with this condition has ended up on your plate, it suggests that those involved in the supply chain are passing along an inferior product, which raises further questions about the freshness of your food. meal.
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In addition to always selecting a fish with clear, bulging eyes, you can look at the fish’s skin, gills, and flesh to determine its quality, explains New York magazine.
Start by gently pressing down on the side of the fish – it should bounce buoyantly, rather than retain a lasting impression. Check the color of the gills to make sure they are red – purple or brown indicate an older specimen. Scan the scales for breaks, which may suggest the socket has been mishandled. And of course, give it a puff – fresh seafood should smell “like the sea”. If it smells of ammonia, head for the hills.
Along with fading signs of freshness, you should also be careful to avoid contaminated fish. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explains that there are two main types of fish poisoning you can get from contaminated seafood: ciguatera poisoning and scombroid poisoning.
Ciguatera poisoning is found in fish living in warm water reefs and tends to affect people who have traveled to tropical and subtropical areas. However, fish infected with ciguatera are increasingly arriving on our shores, thanks to global trade. Although there is no distinct appearance or taste for seafood with ciguatera, you can avoid the types of fish most commonly associated with the disease if you are at high risk: Barracuda, grouper, moray eel, amberjack, bass, sturgeon, parrotfish, surgeonfish and red snapper are all among the most commonly infected.
Scombrid is another type of fish poisoning that occurs when too much histamine develops after being improperly stored or held. You can avoid scombrid and its symptoms by watching for its telltale signs: the CDC says fish infected with scombrid can have a “peppery, pungent, salty taste”, a “bubbly sensation” or visible signs of insufficient storage.
While most of us can enjoy the many benefits of eating fish without worry, some people are at greater risk if they eat a contaminated product. Young children, people over 65, pregnant women, or people with compromised immune systems are all at high risk for serious foodborne illness. “Also, some people are at higher risk simply because they eat a lot more fish than others,” notes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Speak to your doctor if you are concerned about your own seafood consumption or if you notice symptoms of foodborne illness after eating seafood.
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