Can you eat krill?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, “Can you eat krill?”. We will further elaborate on the habitat of krill, the nutritional content of krill, different recipes involving krill, as well as the advantages, and disadvantages of krill.

Can you eat krill?

Yes, you can eat krill. Although it is not much preferred for eating nowadays; it was the main food option up till the nineteenth century and it was known as Okami in Japan. 

The marine crustacean krill (order Euphausiacea) has not been a traditional food in the human diet. However, krill is a rich source of high-quality protein, with the advantage over other animal proteins of being low in fat and a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (1).

Nowadays, only a small proportion of krill is being consumed by humans. The majority of krill is utilized as an aquaculture feed.

Why do we not prefer krill?

The reason behind not preferring krill for eating is because of the high content present in krill. So, if one wants to eat krill, he must remove its shell. Besides the high salt content of salt, crustaceans also have a hard skeleton. Fluorine present in krill is also not a healthy option for consumption.

A major hindrance to fully commercial processing of krill and further development of new krill-based food products may be due to the problems associated with protein recovery from krill. The digestive glands of krill produce hydrolytic enzymes such as proteases, carboxypeptidases, nucleases, and phospholipases. These enzymes are released immediately upon the demise of krill, resulting in autolysis, which leads to a rapid spoilage. The enzymes associated with krill combined with its small size make krill processing for human food a significant challenge (2).

The habitat of krill

Krill range in size from 0.01 to 2 g wet weight and from 8 mm to 6 cm length. They are capable of forming large surface swarms that may reach densities of over 1 million animals per cubic meter of seawater, making them an attractive species for harvesting. Of the different species of krill, only Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) and Pacific krill (Euphausia pacifica) have been harvested to any significant degree for human consumption (1).

Krill are not restricted to one particular ocean. Rather these are present in all oceans over the world. But some species are also endemic. Like species of the genus, Thysanoessa occurs in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. 

Bentheuphausia amblyopia is a bathypelagic species that resides deep inside the deep sea and has a cosmopolitan distribution.

The nutritional content of the krill

Following nutrients can be consumed by eating krill:

  • Phosphorus
  • Protein
  • Fatty acids
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Sulfur

Proximate analysis of whole krill shows a range of 77.9% to 83.1% for moisture, 0.5% to 3.6% for total lipids, 11.9% to 15.4% for crude protein, 3% for ash, and 2% for chitin and glucides (1).

Studies show that krill provides both of the essential fatty acids: -linolenic acid (18:3 -3) and linoleic acid (18:2 -6). In addition, krill is low (26.1%) in both saturated fatty acids (SFAs) and (24.2%) monounsaturated (MUFA) but high (48.5%) in polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). Palmitic acid (16:0) is the predominant SFA, oleic acid (18:1-9) is the predominant MUFA, and the PUFAs consist mainly of -3 fatty acids (1).

Different recipes in which krill is used

Following are some of the recipes in which krill is used as an ingredient:

Smoked trout, walnut, and endive salad with secret Fish oil Dressing: 

After taking all the ingredients like lemon-flavored fish oil, extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, grainy mustard, maple syrup, sea salt and endives chopped, etc these are shaken along with fish oil in a jar. 

Then these are kept aside and salad is prepared. Two plates are taken and chopped endives, sunflower sprouts, and smoked trout are placed on these plates. Before serving, it must be topped with toasted walnuts.

Stir-fried Antarctic krill with Chinese chives

After preparing all raw materials, krill is thawed at room temperature. Leek is cut into small parts after washing it. Millet pepper and ginger are minced. Cornstarch is added and mixed, once the water is drained. Krill is added into the pot after putting oil in it. Krill is kept on frying until it becomes crispy. Then it is served.

Ukoy recipe: 

After putting all the ingredients like krill, eggs, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and finely chopped garlic in a pot, these are combined and mixed well. 

Heat must be kept at a medium rate. A medium-sized frying pan is taken and cooking oil I heated in it. After heating oil, one by four cups of krill oil is added to the mixture. It is fried until the mixture is flattened.

Prawn salad sandwiches: 

In a bowl shrimp, sun-dried tomatoes, mayonnaise, and parsley are added. These are then seasoned with salt and pepper. From the slices of bread, six fish shapes are cut out. 

In case you have one, you can instead use a fish-shaped cookie cutter. Black sesame seed is placed on each fish shape like an eye and fish-shaped toasted bread is utilized to make toasted bread and salad sandwiches. 

The health benefits of krill

There are multiple advantages of krill. Following are some of the advantages that can be availed by eating krill (1).

  • Depression: According to some researchers, by adding krill to our diet, the level of depression can be reduced. Alleviation of emotional symptoms of by krill oil has been attributed to the influence of DHA (omega-3) on brain function.
  • Diabetes: Krill is also known to improve blood sugar and treat diabetes. A study reported that feeding krill meat to patients with type 1 diabetes reduced their incidence of atherosclerosis.
  • Menstrual cramps: The pain during the menstrual cycle can be decreased by krill. In a study, women taking krill oil consumed fewer pain relievers and reported fewer PMS symptoms of breast tenderness, joint pain, swelling, and bloating compared with women receiving fish oil.
  • Helps to maintain cholesterol level: It has been suggested that taking krill two times per day consecutively for twelve weeks can reduce the level of triglycerides in patients. Krill contains chitosan, which has been suggested to play a role in CVD by binding negatively charged substances such as fatty acids and bile acid. This in turn reduces fat absorption and increases fecal sterol excretion, which lowers serum cholesterol
  • Premenstrual symptoms: It has been found that consuming krill oil 2 g in a single day can reduce the symptoms of PMS.
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis: Consuming krill oil 300 milligrams in a day decreases pain and stiffness in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Krill is rich in Fluoride, which is important for the mineralization of bone and teeth and in the prevention of dental caries. Furthermore, the use of high-dose fluoride is being investigated for the prevention of osteoporosis. 

The disadvantages of krill

Following are some of the disadvantages of krill (1).

  • Stomach upset: Krill contains certain components which when consumed can upset your stomach. These are related to chitosan. Potential adverse effects of chitosan include gastrointestinal symptoms such as constipation, flatulence, and the risk of fat-soluble vitamin deficiency due to reduced fat absorption.
  • Heartburn: Due to acid reflux, some people have been reported with heart burning sensation after eating krill.
  • Some other common disadvantages of krill include bad breath, loose stools, nausea, and stomach upset.
  • Overall, the evaluation of the mineral content of krill indicated that it is a poor source of iron. Whole krill meets the RDA for minerals important for bone health; however, depending on the technology used to process krill into edible products, mineral losses may occur that result in mineral levels below the RDA. 

Conclusion

In this brief article, we have provided an answer to the question, “Can you eat krill?”. We have further elaborated on the habitat of krill, the nutritional content of krill, different recipes involving krill, as well as the advantages, and disadvantages of krill.

References

  1. Tou, Janet C., Jacek Jaczynski, and Yi-Chen Chen. Krill for human consumption: nutritional value and potential health benefits. Nutr rev, 2007, 65, 63-77.
  2. Chen, Y‐C., J. C. Tou, and J. Jaczynski. Amino acid and mineral composition of protein and other components and their recovery yields from whole Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba) using isoelectric solubilization/precipitation. J food sci, 2009, 74, H31-H39.