What Kinds of Sashimi to Avoid

My mom always said ‘You are what you eat‘.

As a big-time foodie, this advice has fallen unto deaf ears countless times. It is like telling an artist to free his/her soul and create works of art by using only the standard basic 9 paint colors! How can?!

One of my biggest (and most lethal) food weakness is sashimi. It is a Japanese delicacy of fresh and thinly sliced raw meat and fish. When dipped in soya sauce and wasabi (Japanese mustard), these fresh and creamy textured morsels melt in your mouth with every savory bite.

Unfortunately for me and all other sashimi/sushi lovers, this mouth-watering cuisine is yielding some devastating results in recent years.

One wonders how we got here. As our environmental carbon footprint increases, we are exposed to more and more environmental triggers (toxins, heavy metal, pesticides, viruses etc). Not just in the air we breath, but in the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, the lotions we apply and the detergents we use.

In general, fish is good for you. It is high in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But, with the amount of toxic waste being dumped into our waterways and exposed in the air, mercury is being accumulated in fishes’ tissues.

Today, mercury poisoning is fast becoming a health issue in our society. There is an unexpected , but direct, connection between this toxic contamination in our food and products we use, and the negative effects it has on our immune system and overall well-being.

Why is it important to avoid mercury toxicity?
Mercury poisoning can lead to devastating health conditions such as memory loss, tremors, loss of vision, brain damage, nerve dysfunction and infertility.

According to The New York Times article, a general guideline of – the more expensive and bigger the fish, the higher the (potential) mercury level. One example is premium tuna where the larger species eat smaller fishes thereby accumulating mercury in their diet. This goes the same for humans.

Which leads me back to my favorite past-time – food. Sadly, my favorite spicy tuna roll contains one of the highest levels of mercury. Even cooked tuna makes no difference because the process of cooking does not alter mercury content

How much is too much?
The general US guideline for healthy seafood consumption is a limit of 1.0 (PPM) methyl mercury. While salmon (thank god!), shrimp, scallops and catfish have the lowest range of about 0.18 PPM; king mackerel, tilefish and shark can have as high as 4.54 PPM mercury levels!

Kinds of Sashimi to avoid

Ahi (yellowfin tuna)
Aji (horse mackerel) *
Buri (adult yellowtail) *
Hamachi (young yellowtail) *
Inada (very young yellowtail) *
Katsuo (bonito) *
Kajiki (swordfish)
Maguro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
Makjiki (blue marlin)
Meji (young bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)
Saba (mackerel)
Sawara (Spanish mackerel)
Seigo (young sea bass)
Shiro (albacore tuna)
Suzuki (sea bass)
Toro (bigeye, bluefin or yellowfin tuna)

Kinds of Sashimi that are safer to consume

Akagai (ark shell) *
Anago (conger eel) *
Aoyagi (round clam)
Awabi (abalone) *
Ayu (sweet fish)
Ebi (shrimp)
Hamaguri (clam)
Hamo (pike conger; sea eel) *
Hatahata (sand fish)
Himo (ark shell) *
Hokkigai (surf clam)
Hotategai (scallop)
Ika (squid)
Ikura (salmon roe)
Kaibashira (shellfish)
Kani (crab)
Karei (flat fish)
Kohada (gizzard shad)
Masago (smelt egg)
Masu (trout)
Mirugai (surf clam)
Sake (salmon)
Sayori (halfbeak) *
Shako (mantis shrimp)
Tai (sea bream) *
Tairagai (razor-shell clam) *
Tako (octopus)
Tobikko (flying fish egg)
Torigai (cockle)
Tsubugai (shellfish)
Unagi (fresh water eel) *
Uni (sea urchin roe)

* Mercury levels of these fishes are undetermined. Their mercury levels are derived from comparing those of fish with similar feeding patterns.

So the next time you go to a Japanese restaurant for sushi , protect your immune system by following this guideline and reduce your mercury intake.

Mom always knows best ♥

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