As the weather gets hotter, more and more people are looking for eel, one of the health foods of summer. Let’s take a look at the benefits and precautions of eel, which are delicious and good for health.
What are the benefits of eel?
1. Strengthen immunity
Eel is high in vitamin A, with 360 μgRE of vitamin A per 100 g. This is 13 times more than beef (26㎍RE) and 10 times more than anchovy (38㎍RE). Vitamin A protects the body from foreign invaders such as viruses and bacteria. Therefore, vitamin A is essential to protect the body from the threat of the COVID-19 virus and the hot weather. Eel has long been recognized as a food good for immunity due to its rich nutritional value. Donguibogam defines eel as “good for weak constitution or malnutrition, and excellent for healing various wounds”. In addition, eel contains a lot of high-quality protein and fat. When you eat eel, which is rich in taste and nutrition, you can’t help but generate energy.
2. It is helpful for skin beauty
As mentioned earlier, eel is rich in vitamin A. Vitamin A has the effect of strengthening the mucous membrane of the skin and is effective for skin beauty. In addition, eel is rich in vitamin E and retinol, both of which help maintain skin elasticity. Hydak Nutrition Counseling Nutritionist Park Ji-seong explained in the Hidak Q&A, “Retinol is effective in improving wrinkles and has a good effect on the skin.”
3. Good for Eye Health
Vitamin A is the main component of a substance called ‘rhodopsin’ that makes up the retina of the eye. That’s why eel relieves dry eye syndrome and conjunctivitis and prevents vision loss. Vitamin B and vitamin E in eel also help maintain eye health. Hidak Ophthalmology Consultant Dr. Song Myung-cheol (Gangnam Bright Myung Ophthalmology Clinic) explained in the Hidak Q&A, “Vitamin B plays a role in supplying nutrients to the optic nerve and keeps eyesight healthy.”
4. Improves brain function
Eel is a fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3 is especially necessary for children, adolescents, pregnant women, and the elderly. As is well known, omega-3 fatty acids are effective in improving brain function. Omega 3 DHA exists in the retina and central nervous system tissues of the brain and contributes to the activation of brain cells. Therefore, omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the brain development of growing children and adolescents. In the same way, pregnant women should also eat omega-3 fatty acids. DHA in omega 3 is effective for fetal brain growth, and EPA helps to deliver DHA to the fetus. In addition, omega 3 contributes to improving memory, so it is good for preventing dementia in the elderly.
5. Prevents cardiovascular disease
EPA contained in eel lowers the levels of ‘LDL cholesterol’ and triglycerides, which cause arteriosclerosis and heart disease, to keep blood vessels healthy and help smooth blood circulation. When the blood vessels are clean, blood and nutrients are delivered to each body organ well, so the overall body health is improved. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids prevent the accumulation of LDL cholesterol in blood vessels and strengthen capillaries, so it is excellent in preventing cardiovascular diseases.
When should you avoid eating eel?
1. When you have frequent diarrhea
No matter how rich in high-quality protein and fat, eel is harmful to the body if eaten in excess. In particular, grilled eel has a higher fat content than other eel dishes such as eel sashimi and eel soup because moisture is lost while roasting it. Excessive intake of fatty foods can cause digestive problems, worsening diarrhea or stomach upset.
2. When you have dermatitis
If you are suffering from dermatitis such as atopic dermatitis, it is better not to eat eel. Dermatitis is often caused by lipid peroxide. Lipid peroxide penetrates into the skin and reduces the moisturizing function of dead skin cells, and it is accompanied by various allergies such as rhinitis. Because this lipid is made more as more fat accumulates in the body, patients suffering from dermatitis should avoid ingesting it.
3. When you have obesity or dyslipidemia
Obesity and dyslipidemia are major factors that exacerbate cardiovascular diseases such as stroke and myocardial infarction. Dyslipidemia, previously called hyperlipidemia, refers to a symptom of high levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood. It means that there is an abnormally high amount of fat in the blood. If you eat eel with a high fat content in a state with a lot of fat in the body, obesity and dyslipidemia are aggravated, and blood vessel health is highly likely to deteriorate. Therefore, if you eat eel, it is recommended to consume only 0.5 servings.
4. When you have gout
Gout is a disease in which uric acid, which should be excreted in the urine, is not excreted from the body and accumulates in the body. Gout can cause so much pain that you can’t even walk or sleep properly. Eel contains a component called ‘purine’ that helps the production of uric acid that causes gout. Therefore, eating eel can increase the amount of uric acid accumulated in the body, so it is good for gout patients to avoid eating eel.
Help = Hidak Ophthalmology Consultant, Director Song Myung-cheol (Gangnam Bright Myung Ophthalmology Clinic)
Hidak Nutrition Counseling Ji-Sung Park (nutritionist)