Can You Eat a Jellyfish? Is it Safe to Eat?

Having jellyfish in your meal might not sound good if you’re of Western origin.

There is a common perception that jellyfish are toxic to humans. Therefore, most people worldwide don’t add it to their diet. Jellyfish are popular for their toxicity and poisonous nature. Most of us have spent our lives believing that jellyfish are unclean and poisonous species that can’t be eaten.

However, different species of jellyfish have been part of Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cuisine for a long time now. Seeing Southeast Asian nations enjoying the delicacy, many people wonder and ask,

Can you eat a jellyfish?

Is it safe to eat it?

And a lot more questions like that pop into our minds. 

This article is an attempt to answer your queries regarding eating jellyfish or any risks associated with it. Besides, we’ve also included the acclaimed health benefits, edible jellyfish species, and different jellyfish recipes to incorporate into your daily meals.

So let’s get into it.

What Is Jellyfish?

Jellyfish are umbrella-shaped free-swimming marine animals found in all the world’s oceans. The animal is famous for its gelatinous body, bell shape, and trailing tentacles that can spit the venom on the predators in a matter of seconds. Jellyfish are of many colors and species.

There are around 2000 jellyfish species known to the world, and not all the species are poisonous. Although jellyfish are known to be found in every ocean, you can also find jellyfish in some freshwater lakes or pounds. In oceans, some jellyfish species like to live in the shallow water of coastal areas. Whereas others have their habitat in the deep oceans.

The size of jellyfish greatly varies, and you shouldn’t be surprised to find a jellyfish as small as the eraser tip of a pencil to anywhere about 8 feet in diameter. When we talk about the tentacles of jellyfish, they can grow as long as 200 feet.

Jellyfish don’t have heart, brain, or bones. The transparent and thin skin helps the jellyfish hide from the enemies and breathing purposes. The defense system of the gelatinous marine animal lies in the long tentacles comprising of nematocysts. When a predator or prey tangles with the tentacles, the venomous threads uncoil in nematocysts. As a result, the venom is transferred to the invader through stingers.

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Different Species and Origin

Jellyfish are believed to exist for 500 million years, which is twice the age when dinosaurs appeared. The oldest fossils of jellyfish found in Brazil, the USA, and China suggest the animal’s origin from the said regions.

Around 2000 species of jellyfish are known to human beings, but many scientists suggest the actual number to be as big as 300,000 species. Despite popular belief, only 70 species out of 2000 known types are harmful to human beings.

The box jellyfish is notorious for being the most venomous and deadliest jellyfish. It’s believed to be the most venomous animal in the world. Besides, Sea wasp, Irukandji, Morbakka fenneri, and Alantia Alata are also counted among the most dangerous jellyfish.

Can You Eat A Jellyfish?

The answer is yes! You can eat jellyfish if it’s one of the edible species known to humans. There are many ways you can add it to your meals. Try shredded or thin-sliced in raw form paired up with the salad. You can also try it by boiling and mixing it with noodles. And there are innumerable ways that we’ll be discussing later in the article.

Is It Safe To Eat A Jellyfish?

Yes, we can eat jellyfish, but safe consumption is the key. If you’re not familiar with safe consumption, it can do harm instead of good. Due to the vulnerability of jellyfish to easily spoil at room temperature, the cleaning and processing process has to be quick and carefully done. Besides, choosing a species that is edible for human beings is also crucial.

In crux, if you’re consuming jellyfish that have been carefully cleaned and processed, you can enjoy many health benefits of the specific species. The conventional method of preserving jellyfish includes using an alum-salt mixture. The alum acts as an antiseptic and reduces the pH without destroying its texture. Different research studies have also confirmed that the traditionally cleaned jellyfish met the safety and quality standards with no bacterial contamination or harmful pathogens.

Edible Species Of Jellyfish

There are many edible species of jellyfish if processed carefully. In most parts of Southeast Asia, Rhizostomae is the most popular species consumed by the locals. Chinese cuisine is flooded with use of these jellyfish in different dishes.

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Rhopilema esculentum and Rhopilema hispidum are the most popular edible jellyfish in Korea, Japan, and China. Besides, cannonball jellyfish and jelly blubber are also edible species. Some other edible jellyfish species are as follow:

  • Aurelia aurita
  • Crambionella Orsini
  • Chrysoara Pacifica
  • Lobonemoides gracilis
  • Nomura’s jellyfish
  • Lobonema Orsini

Nutritional Value

Before we jump into the proposed benefits of eating jellyfish, let’s have an overview of the nutritional values you get from its consumption. Since there are many species of edible jellyfish, the nutritional values of different nutrients will vary across the species. However, 1 cup of dried jellyfish will have the following proportions of nutrients and different minerals:

58 grams serving contains:

  • Calories: 21 kcal
  • Selenium: 45% of daily intake requirement
  • Choline: 10% of the daily intake requirement
  • Fat: 1 g
  • Protein: 3 g
  • Iron: 7% of the daily intake requirement.

Besides the presence of the said nutrients, the jellyfish also contains phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium. A lot of research studies have suggested the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acids(PUFAs) like omega-3 and omega-6 and polyphenols in the jellyfish.

PUFAs reduce the probability of heart diseases, and polyphenols contain antioxidant properties to promote brain function and provide immunity against many chronic diseases.

What Are Health Benefits?

What are other health benefits of edible jellyfish that you can capitalize on by adding to your diet?

Here are some of the proposed benefits of jellyfish:

Reduced Risk of Heart Disease

The low-calorie jellyfish enriched with omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and protein is excellent for heart health. It doesn’t only lower the chances of blood pressure problems but improves heart health.

Rich in Selenium

Selenium is not only one of the essential minerals your body requires, but it also supports many body processes to function smoothly. Reduced risk of heart diseases, cancers, Alzheimer’s, etc., have been associated with adequate selenium intake. 58 grams serving of selenium provides you with 45% of the required daily selenium intake.

Collagen Source

Jellyfish are rich in collagen. That’s why it’s massively used in the cosmetics industry and age-reversing products. Collagen protein helps in improving the structure of skin, tissues, bones, and tendons. Besides, collagen intake is often associated with reduced joint pains and better skin elasticity.

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Contains Choline

Choline has a lot of work to do in your body, from DNA synthesis to nervous system support and metabolism. However, it’s unfortunate that we don’t get enough of it. You can consider adding jellyfish to your diet as it contains 10% choline of your daily intake requirements.

It might support weight loss

A low calorie yet filling delicacy doesn’t contain carbs, and it proposes to be beneficial for weight loss. Besides, the presence of protein also encourages healthy muscles during dieting.

Good for brain function and memory building

The calcium-binding protein present in the jellyfish is beneficial for memory building and improving memory over aging. Besides, the chances of dementia and Alzheimer’s can also be reduced by consuming jellyfish regularly as it’s a rich source of polyphenols.

Potential Risk Associated With Jelly Fish Consumption

We’ve emphasized the safe consumption of jellyfish in your diet in the whole article. The reason is that it can be harmful to certain people. Some people might develop allergies after the consumption of cooked jellyfish. Some potential health risks associated with jellyfish are as follows:

  • If the jellyfish is not cleaned thoroughly, it can pose to be a health risk for the consumers. The aluminum in the jellyfish products can induce inflammatory bowel disease. Even the higher consumption of aluminum can cause Alzheimer’s disease.
  • The risks associated with jellyfish sting can include skin irritation, rashes, coma, difficulty breathing, etc.

Processing Jellyfish

The processing of jellyfish usually includes dehydration in a bringing solution. At the time of consumption, soak in water overnight to improve the meat’s texture and reduce the salty taste.

Final Words

As mentioned in the article, out of 2000 known species, only 70 are venomous and dangerous. While there are a lot of other species that are not only safe to eat but provide several health benefits. The bottom line of the whole discussion is that a jellyfish is a good option for eating when properly cleaned, processed, and cooked. Besides, the selection of edible jellyfish species also plays a crucial role in the outcome of jellyfish consumption.