If You're Over 65, Never Eat This One Kind of Fish, Says CDC


High in protein, low in calories, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids, fish is generally considered to be a healthy addition to your diet. But experts say that those over the age of 65 should consider the risk of fish poisoning before planning their next seafood meal. Unfortunately, there's little you can do to spot the problem, experts from Johns Hopkins Medicine explain. "Fish containing these toxins do not look, smell, or taste bad. Cooking, marinating, freezing, or stewing does not destroy the toxin," their experts warn. That's exactly why it's so essential to learn which types of fish are most likely to cause fish poisoning, and to avoid them accordingly. Read on to find out which fish you should cut from your diet, and why your risk skyrockets after 65.

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Eating warm-water, reef dwelling fish can cause ciguatera poisoning.

There are two main types of fish poisoning that can wreak havoc on your health, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These are known as scombroid poisoning and ciguatera poisoning. The latter is a serious foodborne illness that affects at least 50,000 individuals annually, and is typically found in warm-water, reef-dwelling fish.

Most frequently, this type of poisoning is linked to "large carnivorous reef fish," including barracuda, grouper, moray eel, amberjack, sea bass, or sturgeon. Ciguatoxin and maitotoxin, both of which cause ciguatera poisoning, can also be found in omnivorous and herbivorous species including parrot fish, surgeonfish, and red snapper.

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Those over 65 are at greater risk of serious foodborne illness.

As you age, your body becomes more susceptible to serious foodborne illness due to changes in your immune system. Past the age of 65, your organs are less efficient at fighting off harmful germs in the gastrointestinal tract. Besides your stomach producing less acid that can fight bacteria in your intestines, your liver and kidneys may become less able to filter out toxins.

If you happen to have any underlying illnesses—a possibility that becomes more likely as you age—this risk is compounded.

This type of fish poisoning is becoming more common.

Most often, Americans who contract ciguatera poisoning do so while traveling to highly endemic areas—in particular, tropical and subtropical regions near the Pacific and Indian Oceans, as well as the Caribbean Sea. Increasingly, cases are popping up stateside "in non-endemic areas as a result of the increasing global trade in seafood products," says the CDC.

Additionally, the risk is slated to rise in coming years due to environmental changes in coral reefs. "The risk of ciguatera poisoning is likely to increase as coral reefs deteriorate because of climate change, ocean acidification, offshore construction, and nutrient runoff," the health authority explains.

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Look out for these symptoms of ciguatera poisoning.

Ciguatera poisoning is known to cause cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, neurological, and neuropsychiatric symptoms, according to the CDC. These may include slowed abdominal pain, blurred vision, diarrhea, fatigue, hypotension, insomnia, itching, malaise, nausea, a sensation of loose or painful teeth, slowed heart rate, sweating, tingling, vomiting, and weakness. While death from ciguatera poisoning is rare, the CDC warns that neurological symptoms "usually last a few days to several weeks but may persist for months or even years."

Thankfully, there are many less risky fish in the sea to choose from.

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