Can you eat a giant isopod?
In this brief article, we will answer the question “Can you eat a giant isopod?” and discuss what nutrients are found in the isopod meat.
Can you eat a giant isopod?
Yes, you can eat a giant isopod. Isopods are crustaceans and their bodies serve as a fat reserve.
The giant isopod, called Bathynomus giganteus, is the largest isopod known, with a body size of 36.5 cm long. Isopods are generally scavengers of the sea (1).
What are the nutrients found in the giant isopod meat?
The nutrients found in the isopod meat are mostly lipids. Crustaceans, such as crabs, have a large fat reserve in their body part called hepatopancreas. Isopods, on the other hand, have fat reserves in the hepatopancreas as well as in their body tissues.
The most prevalent component of the body is water. The moisture content of giant isopods is about 70%.
The dry weight body composition of the giant isopod consists of 49.1 % lipid, 34.2% protein, 4.8% carbohydrate, and 12.0% ash, whereas the fat body is 56.4% lipid, 29.0% protein, 2.8% carbohydrate, and 11.7% ash (1).
What are the benefits of eating isopods?
The benefits of eating giant isopods are the high fat content in their bodies, in the form of triglycerides. Triglycerides is a form of lipid which can be readily used and is a good source of energy.
When your body needs energy, it releases the triglycerides. In this way, giant isopods can be consumed by individuals who need a higher fat ingestion and for individuals who follow a ketogenic diet (6).
What are the risks of eating isopods?
The risks of eating isopods are related to the high fat content of this seafood, the risks of food outbreaks related to the ingestion of crustacean and the levels of heavy metals in their meat, depending on their origin. These three point will be discussed separately:
The giant isopod meat is composed mostly of fats, from which more than a half are triglycerides (1). Although considered an important energy reserve for the body, the excessive ingestion of this type of lipid is not healthy (2).
The accumulation of triglycerides in the body and a high level of triglycerides in the blood can elevate the risk of diseases, such as kidney disease, diabetes, liver disease, overweight and obesity, thyroid disease, in addition to heart stroke.
The ingestion of contaminated seafood and crustacean are reported to have caused several food outbreaks in the last decades (3). Salmonella, Staphylococcus, Bacillus, Clostridium perfringens and many species of parasites were related to causing foodborne diseases in individuals.
Food contamination can happen during transporting, storing, preparing, cooking and handling.
Improper handling, poor hygienic conditions as well as unsafe cooking temperatures can lead to abnormal growth of microorganisms and the ingestion of contaminated food or of toxins produced by microorganisms can result in diseases, hospitalizations and even death.
As a scavenger, giant isopods are prone to accumulate the metal residues of the ocean from their original environment. Studies report that the meat of crustaceans are usually contaminated with high levels of heavy metals such as Cd, Cu, Pb and Zn (4).
The excessive intake of seafood containing heavy metals can be toxic and lead to higher risks of neurological disorders, kidney damage, circulatory system problems, and an increased risk of cancer (5).
In this brief article, we have answered the question “Can you eat a giant isopod?” and discussed what nutrients are found in the isopod meat.
- Biesiot, Patricia M., et al. Organic reserves in the midgut gland and fat body of the giant deep-sea isopod Bathynomus giganteus. J Crustacean Biol, 1999, 19, 450-458.
- High Blood Triglycerides. National Health Institute.
- Gould, L. Hannah, et al. Surveillance for foodborne disease outbreaks—United States, 1998–2008. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report: Surveillance Summaries, 2013, 62, 1-34.
- Zauke, G-P., and Isabel Schmalenbach. Heavy metals in zooplankton and decapod crustaceans from the Barents Sea. Sci total environ, 2006, 359, 283-294.
- Tanhan, Phanwimol, et al. Human Health Risk Assessment of Heavy Metal Concentration in Seafood Collected from Pattani Bay, Thailand. Toxics, 2022, 11, 18.
- Fukazawa, Ayumi, et al. The safety of very-long-term intake of a ketogenic diet containing medium-chain triacylglycerols. J Oleo Sci, 2021, 70, 989-993.