Can You Eat Raw Fish and Is It Safe?

If you’re new to sushi, you might wonder: Can you eat raw fish without getting sick?

The short answer is yes! Raw fish isn’t just a delicacy in Japan – it’s a staple in many Western restaurants today.

However, eating raw fish does come with some risks. Learn about the potential health hazards and benefits that come with consuming raw fish.

Can You Eat Raw Fish and Is it Safe?

Eating raw fish can be safe under specific precautions. Raw fish dishes like sushi and sashimi are enjoyed worldwide, but there are potential risks of bacterial contamination and parasitic infections.

Is it Healthy to Eat Raw Fish?

Eating raw fish, commonly found in dishes like sushi and sashimi, can provide notable health benefits.

Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, raw fish promotes cardiovascular health by reducing inflammation, improving blood vessel function, and supporting optimal cholesterol levels.

The high-quality protein found in raw fish aids in tissue repair, immune system support, and healthy hair and skin maintenance.

Alongside these benefits, raw fish offers a spectrum of essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iodine, and selenium, which are crucial for metabolism, thyroid function, and antioxidant protection.

Raw fish varieties also contain antioxidants such as astaxanthin and vitamin D, contributing to cellular health and strong bones.

Potential Risks of Eating Raw Fish

Consuming raw fish poses potential risks from bacterial contamination, parasitic infections, and heavy metal exposure.

Raw fish can harbor harmful bacteria such as:

  • Salmonella
  • Vibrio
  • E. coli

These bacteria can cause foodborne illnesses with symptoms like gastrointestinal distress.

Additionally, certain raw fish species may contain parasites like Anisakis and Diphyllobothrium, which can cause allergic reactions and digestive discomfort.

Another concern is the accumulation of heavy metals like mercury in some fish, which can have adverse health effects when consumed:

  • Gastrointestinal and kidney dysfunction
  • Nervous system disorders
  • Congenital disabilities
  • Immune system dysfunction
  • Cancer
  • Vascular damage

You should avoid consuming raw fish if you are:

  • Immunocompromised
  • Under 5 or over 65
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding

Minimizing Risks When Eating Raw Fish

To minimize the risk of food borne illnesses when consuming raw fish, following guidelines provided by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is essential.

Firstly, choose fish that has been frozen properly, as freezing at temperatures of -4°F (-20°C) or below for at least seven days can effectively kill parasites. If you have leftovers, learn how to store fish correctly. Moreover, you must learn how to cook frozen fish safely.

Additionally, ensure the fish is from reputable suppliers that adhere to FDA regulations for safe seafood handling and storage.

Maintaining impeccable hygiene when handling raw fish at home by thoroughly washing hands, utensils, and surfaces can further minimize health risks. Segregate raw fish from other ingredients to prevent cross-contamination.

By diligently adhering to FDA guidelines, you can enjoy raw fish dishes with reduced risks to your health.


If you’re an avid sushi fan, breathe easy – as long as the seafood is sourced responsibly and fished ethically, it should be safe to consume. If eating raw fish at home, ensure you inspect the fish thoroughly and store it properly to avoid potential health concerns.

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