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Igat: 11 Health Benefits of Freshwater Eel, Description, and Disadvantages

Dive into the mysterious depths of lakes and rivers as we discover the health benefits of freshwater eel, especially the native Mottled eel. Meet the mottled eel, a fascinating marine dweller gaining attention for its nutritional prowess. Whether you’re a seafood enthusiast or simply curious about exploring new culinary horizons, this blog post will take you on an exciting journey through the world of eels. From their scientific name to their tantalizing taste, we’ll unravel all there is to know about these slimy yet extraordinary creatures. So grab your utensils, and let’s delve into the enticing world of eels and uncover how they can contribute to your overall well-being!

What is Mottled Eel

Scientifically known as Anguilla marmorata, the mottled eel is a mesmerizing creature found in various bodies of water worldwide. Also referred to as the marbled eel or stone moray, this elusive species possesses a distinct appearance that sets it apart from other marine dwellers. It is called Igat or palos in Tagalog, and Sili in Hiligaynon/Ilonggo.

The mottled eel boasts a long and slender body, reaching lengths of up to 1.5 meters. Its skin is adorned with intricate patterns resembling marble, giving it its unique name. The coloration of these patterns can range from shades of brown and olive green to creamy white.

In terms of physical characteristics, the mottled eel possesses a serpentine-like physique with smooth scales covering its body. It has a row of sharp teeth lining both jaws, allowing it to catch prey efficiently in its aquatic habitat.

The Mottled Eel (Native Philippine eel) – Sili (Hiligaynon/Ilonggo), Palos or Igat (Tagalog), Indong (Cebuano). Image credit Researchgate

When it comes to taste, opinions may vary. Some describe the flavor of cooked mottled eel as delicate and slightly sweet with hints of earthiness. Others find it more akin to fish but enjoy its firm yet tender texture.

Habitat-wise, these creatures thrive in freshwater environments such as rivers and lakes but are also known to venture into brackish waters and estuaries during their life cycle. They prefer areas with plenty of hiding spots, like submerged vegetation or rocky crevices, where they can lay low during daylight hours.

Now that we’ve acquainted ourselves with what makes the mottled eel so intriguing, let’s explore how indulging in this delicacy can contribute positively to your health!

Eel Nutrition Per 100g

The nutritional content of eel can vary depending on the species, preparation, and cooking methods. However, here’s an approximate nutritional breakdown per 100 grams of raw eel, specifically European eel (Anguilla anguilla):

  • Calories: ~184 kcal
  • Protein: ~18.4 g
  • Fat: ~11.6 g
  • Saturated Fat: ~3.4 g
  • Carbohydrates: ~0 g (negligible)
  • Fiber: ~0 g
  • Vitamin A: ~1490 IU
  • Vitamin C: ~0 mg
  • Vitamin D: ~280 IU
  • Calcium: ~16 mg
  • Iron: ~0.5 mg
  • Potassium: ~194 mg
  • Sodium: ~50 mg
  • Phosphorus: ~240 mg

Please note that these values are approximate and can vary based on factors like the eel species, its habitat, diet, and cooking methods. Additionally, the nutritional content may change when the eel is cooked using different methods. As always, it’s best to refer to specific nutritional databases or consult a registered dietitian for more accurate and up-to-date nutritional information.

11 Health Benefits of Freshwater Eel

Eel is a type of fish that is enjoyed in various cuisines around the world. It offers several potential health benefits due to its nutritional composition. Here are some possible health benefits of freshwater eel:

  1. Rich in Protein: Eel is a good source of high-quality protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues, supporting immune function, and maintaining muscle mass.
  2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Eel contains omega-3 fatty acids, particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which are known for their potential to reduce inflammation, support heart health, and promote brain function.
  3. Vitamins and Minerals: Eel provides various vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients are important in bone health, immune function, and well-being.
  4. Brain Health: The omega-3 fatty acids in eels, particularly DHA, are essential for brain development and maintenance. Including omega-3s in your diet may improve cognitive function and brain health.
  5. Heart Health: The presence of omega-3 fatty acids and other nutrients in eels may support cardiovascular health by helping to lower blood pressure, reduce triglycerides, and improve overall heart function.
  6. Weight Management: Eel’s protein content can help promote feelings of fullness and satiety, potentially aiding in weight management by reducing overeating.
  7. Bone Health: Eel is a source of phosphorus and calcium essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth.
  8. Collagen Formation: Eel skin contains collagen, a protein that plays a role in maintaining skin elasticity and joint health.
  9. Iron Source: Eel contains iron, an essential mineral involved in oxygen transport and energy production in the body.
  10. Culinary Versatility: Eel can be prepared in various ways, offering culinary versatility and the opportunity to include it in a balanced and varied diet.
  11. Sustainable Fishing: Some eel varieties, such as farmed eel, can be produced through sustainable aquaculture practices, which can help reduce the pressure on wild fish populations.

It’s important to note that freshwater eel’s nutritional content and health benefits can vary based on factors such as the species of eel, its habitat, diet, and how it’s prepared. When incorporating eel into your diet, consider healthy cooking methods such as grilling, baking, or steaming to retain its nutritional value. As with any dietary changes, consulting with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian is a good idea, especially if you have specific health concerns or dietary preferences.

Side Effects and Disadvantages of Eel

While consuming eel has numerous health benefits, it is important to also consider the potential side effects and disadvantages. You should be aware of five things before adding eel to your diet.

1. High Mercury Content: Eel is known to contain high levels of mercury, a heavy metal that can accumulate in the body over time. Excessive mercury intake may lead to neurological problems, especially in pregnant women and young children.

2. Allergic Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions when consuming eel or other types of seafood. Symptoms can range from mild itching and hives to more severe reactions such as difficulty breathing or anaphylaxis. If you have a seafood allergy, it’s best to avoid eels altogether.

3. High Cholesterol Levels: Eel is rich in cholesterol, which can contribute to elevated blood cholesterol levels if consumed excessively or by individuals with high cholesterol levels. This could increase the risk of heart disease and other cardiovascular issues.

4. Bacterial Contamination: Like all seafood, eels can harbor bacteria such as salmonella or listeria if not handled properly or cooked thoroughly. These bacteria can cause food poisoning and result in symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain.

5. Environmental Concerns: Eels play a crucial role in aquatic ecosystems but are currently facing population decline due to overfishing and habitat loss from pollution and dam construction projects. Choosing sustainably sourced eel products helps protect these unique creatures for future generations.

It’s always essential to weigh both the advantages and drawbacks when considering any dietary choice—including incorporating eel into your meals! As with any food item, moderation is key to enjoying its potential benefits while minimizing any adverse effects on your health.

How to Eat Eel

Eels can be prepared and consumed in various ways, depending on regional culinary traditions and personal preferences. Here are some common methods of preparing and eating common eel:

  1. Cooked: Cooking eel is a popular and versatile way to enjoy this fish. Eel can be grilled, broiled, baked, pan-fried, or steamed. Season it with herbs, spices, and marinades to enhance its flavor.
  2. Smoked: Smoking eel imparts a rich and smoky flavor. Smoked eel can be served as an appetizer or incorporated into salads, pasta dishes, or spreads.
  3. Grilled or Barbecued: Grilling or barbecuing eel gives it a delicious charred flavor. Marinate the eel before grilling to enhance its taste.
  4. Sushi and Sashimi: In some cuisines, eel is enjoyed as a topping for sushi or as sashimi. Eel used for sushi is typically cooked and glazed with a savory-sweet sauce.
  5. Eel Pie: In some traditional dishes, eel is used as a filling for savory pies, often combined with other ingredients such as vegetables and herbs.
  6. Eel Stew or Soup: Eel can make flavorful stews or soups, often with vegetables, herbs, and seasonings. Eel stew is a popular dish in some European cuisines.
  7. Dried Eel: Drying eel helps preserve the fish and intensifies its flavors. Dried eel can be rehydrated and used in soups, stews, or rice dishes.
  8. Fermented Eel: In some cultures, eel is fermented to create unique flavors. Fermented eel can be used as a condiment or incorporated into traditional dishes.
  9. Eel Curry: Eel can be used as a main ingredient in curry dishes, adding a rich and distinctive flavor.
  10. Canned Eel: Canned eel is a convenient option used in sandwiches, salads, and pasta dishes or enjoyed independently.
  11. Eel Jerky: Eel can be prepared as jerky, creating a flavorful and portable snack.
  12. Eel Congee: Eel can be added to rice porridge (congee) to create a comforting and nourishing dish.

When preparing and cooking eel, it’s important to ensure that it is cooked thoroughly to a safe internal temperature to prevent foodborne illnesses. The cooking time and method may vary based on the specific preparation. Additionally, consider incorporating a variety of vegetables, grains, and other nutritious ingredients into your dishes to create balanced and flavorful meals. As with any culinary endeavor, experimenting with different preparations and flavors can lead to delicious and satisfying results.

The Bottom Line

It is clear that mottled eel, also known as igat, offers numerous health benefits. This unique fish is packed with essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. Consuming eel can help improve brain function, support heart health, boost the immune system, and promote healthy skin.

However, it’s important to note that there are some potential side effects and disadvantages associated with eating eel. These include the risk of heavy metal contamination and allergies in certain individuals. It’s crucial to source your eel from reputable suppliers and consume it in moderation.

When preparing eel for consumption, there are various cooking methods to choose from – whether you prefer it grilled or fried. You can also find dried or canned versions of eel for added convenience.

Before incorporating eel into your diet or trying any new food item for its potential health benefits, it’s always advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or nutritionist who can provide personalized advice based on your specific dietary needs.

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