Can You Eat Fish Skin, And Is It Healthy?
The answer to these questions depends on your lifestyle. For some it may not be healthy at all. However, for others it’s perfectly fine.
So what are you waiting for?
Let’s get started!
What Are The Health Risks Of Eating Fish Skin?
Fish skin contains high amounts of mercury (mercury is a neurotoxin) and other heavy metals such as arsenic and cadmium. These heavy metals have been linked to various health problems including:
Kidney failure and even death in very rare cases.
How Much Do Fish Skin Contain? How Dangerous Are They Really?
Mercury levels in fish skin vary greatly depending on where they were caught, how long ago they were caught, and how much was used to catch them. Some types of fish contain up to 500 times less mercury than other types of fish.
However, the amount of mercury in fish skin varies from one type of fish to another. For example, tuna has only trace amounts of mercury while salmon has over 100 times more than tuna. Even though the total amount of mercury in salmon skin is low, its concentration is still high enough to cause harm if consumed regularly.
How Much Fish Skin Is Ok To Eat?
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests that both adults and children should not eat more than 2 meals per month containing fish caught in waters contaminated with mercury. If the fish were caught in an area with low levels of mercury, you can increase this limit to 4 meals per month. If you are a woman of childbearing age, nursing mother or pregnant you should not exceed this amount at all.
Note: The FDA does not currently test fish for mercury or any other heavy metal contamination. You should still be aware of the health risks posed by eating contaminated fish skin and seek other sources of information such as the EPA if you are concerned about your current or past levels of consumption.
What Types Of Fish Skin Are Safe To Eat?
Fish contaminated with heavy metals can be safely eaten if they come from a cleaner source. For example, in many parts of the world, wild freshwater fish are much cleaner than salt water fish. In North America, Alaska salmon is usually considered one of the safest fish to eat because it is very clean compared to other types of fish.
What About Other Types Of Fish Skin?
The other types of fish skin such as catfish and tilapia are generally considered safe to eat. They do not contain high levels of any contaminants apart from arsenic (this however is true of many types of food we eat today).
Can You Cook The Fish Skin Before Eating It?
Some types of fish contain higher amounts of heavy metals than other types. For example, King mackerel and tilefish contain high levels of mercury and should never be consumed in any quantity.
It is generally best to avoid all types of raw or undercooked fish. However, this does not apply to all types of fish. Fish that have toxic levels of heavy metals such as tilefish or king mackerel should never be eaten raw. However, this does not apply to low level mercury fish such as wild caught Alaskan salmon. In this case, it can be beneficial to lightly cook the skin to help remove some of the toxins.
What About Farmed Fish Vs Wild Fish?
The types of fish that are most dangerous in terms of heavy metal content are those that tend to dwell at the bottom of lakes and oceans where there is a higher concentration of toxic waste. These are known as “bottom feeders” and include types of fish such as orange roughy, sea bass, tuna, catfish and tilapia. It is best to avoid these types of fish altogether.
Farmed or “Pen Fish” are generally raised in areas where there is a much lower concentration of heavy metals. In fact, it’s common practice to place the pens in areas with very low levels of heavy metals or even in salt water. For this reason, most farmed fish are safe to eat and often preferable because they avoid some of the dangers of wild fish such as pollution.
Should I Throw Away My Fish Skin Collection?
Only if your skin is breaking out in a rash after handling it!
Most people don’t have a problem with touching fish, but if you do have a sensitivity to it, then you might want to throw it away or give it to someone else.
Does Fish Skin Get Hair To Stand Up?
No. This is a myth that has been spread around as a rumor for many years… It doesn’t do this at all!
Other Myths About Fish Skin
Several other myths about fish skin have circulated over the years. The main one being that if you put it on your skin under your swimsuit then you will not get a “bark burn” (sunburn on your back). While this is a nice idea, it doesn’t work in practice.
The main reason for this is the sun reflects off the surface of the water and can actually cause a “bark burn” on your back before you would get a tan if you were to lie on the beach for an extended period of time. Also, sitting in the blazing sun for hours will always result in a “bark burn” no matter what. So don’t waste your fish skin!
Another myth is that if you spread it on your face before you go to sleep then you will not get a “bark burn” on your face. While this may be true, it is not worth the effort. If you are concerned about getting a “bark burn” on your face, then just apply some sunscreen to your face before spending time in the sun. It’s much easier and it will also protect the rest of your body from the harmful rays of the sun.
Recipes Using Fish Skin
Now that you know how beneficial and nutritious fish skin is, let’s look at some fish skin recipes.
As you can see from these recipes, fish skin doesn’t have to just be thrown away! If you cook with it and prepare it properly then it can be very healthy and tasty too!
For more fish skin recipes, look online or try experimenting yourself! Just don’t cook the fish skin for too long since it does not have as much “structure” as the meat of the fish.
Sources & references used in this article:
Shiga toxigenic and enteropathogenic Escherichia coli in water and fish from pay‐to‐fish ponds by LF Ribeiro, MMC Barbosa… – Letters in applied …, 2016 – Wiley Online Library
… of antimicrobial ice for reduction of foodborne pathogens (Escherichia coli O157:H7, Salmonella Typhimurium, Listeria monocytogenes) on the surface of fish by JH Shin, S Chang, DH Kang – Journal of applied microbiology, 2004 – Wiley Online Library
You suffer from what you eat: beware of raw, undercooked, spoiled, inadequately preserved fish by I Koniari, NG Kounis – 2017 – Taylor & Francis
… and dibenzofurans, and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls in paired muscle and skin from fish from the Bohai coast, China: Benefits and risks associated with fish … by L Cui, S Wang, X Yang, L Gao, M Zheng… – Science of The Total …, 2018 – Elsevier
You are what you eat: within-subject increases in fruit and vegetable consumption confer beneficial skin-color changes by RD Whitehead, D Re, D Xiao, G Ozakinci, DI Perrett – PloS one, 2012 – journals.plos.org
Acellular Fish Skin Grafts and Pig Urinary Bladder Matrix Assessed in the Collagen-Induced Arthritis Mouse Model by S Magnusson, H Kjartansson… – … Journal of Lower …, 2018 – journals.sagepub.com
Canning meat, fish and poultry (2015) by S Mills-Gray – 2015 – mospace.umsystem.edu
A low prevalence of mycobacteria in freshwater fish from water reservoirs, ponds and farms by V Mrlik, M Slany, J Kubecka, J Seda… – Journal of fish …, 2012 – Wiley Online Library