The Dangers of Eating Crawfish: What Are Side Effects?

dangers of eating crawfish

As part of the seafood family, crawfish are highly loved and desired by most. Although when talking about these creatures, people are a little doubtful if they should or should not eat them as some myths exist that crawfish can cause immediate poisoning. So, what are some dangers of eating crawfish? 

Crawfish may contain bacteria that can make you sick and cause harmful side effects like fever, cough, weight loss, chest pain, dyspnea, and night sweet. Still, crawfish has proven to be a highly nutritional food with many vitamins, protein, and cholesterol. 

Below I have written about all pros and cons of eating crawfish, all side effects, the good and bad values that crawfish can bring to our bodies, and how to deal with all cases. 

Is Eating Crawfish Dangerous?

Eating crawfish can be dangerous as you can get Paragonimiasis. Probably this is a word you have never heard before, as it is a sickness that can be caused only in situations where crawfish are involved. 

If you get the parasite Paragonimus, you can get an infection involving the lungs but can affect other organs, including the brain and skin. [1]

Studies show that the side effects of this condition can be given from two to sixteen weeks after crayfish consumption. They can be different, but symptoms like fever and cough are present on almost every occasion. In addition, in more than half of the cases studied, weight loss and malaise have been shown, and chest pain, dyspnea, and night sweet in around 44% of the cases. 

There are some other side effects, like abdominal pain or acute chest pain after week two. These clinical manifestations likely were caused by P. Kallicott migration through the diaphragm into the pleural space and lungs.

As you can see, eating crawfish, both raw or cooked, is not the most harmless and safe thing to do. Of course, the percentage of people who can get sick from Paragonimiasis is small, but the risk is there. 

Are Crawfish Healthy to Eat?

Crawfishes can risk getting sick under circumstances that are not well determined, so nobody cannot say for sure in which cases you can get the parasite or not. But on the other hand, crawfish contains a lot of health benefits as a product. [2

Firstly, crawfish do not have a lot of calories, as per 100 grams of it, there is only 82 kcal. For this small portion of 100 grams, the quantity of protein is relatively high, 16,47grams. Like most fish products, crawfish contains a considerable amount of omega-3, which also gives our bodies a lot of health benefits. 

Another good news is that crawfish do not contain any saturated fat, which is `the bad` type of bad but contains small quantities of unsaturated fat. Not only that, but they are high in B vitamins and minerals such as magnesium, iron, zinc, phosphorous, and niacin.

Of course, those benefits can change according to how we cook it and what we accompany the crawfish. If you fry them, you will have higher cholesterol and saturated fat, which is not suitable for human bodies as it does not bring any benefit. With processes like roasting or boiling, the result can be better, and you can have almost all the values of crawfish. 

What Does Crawfish Do to Your Body?

As already mentioned, crawfish can have good and bad effects on your body. 

Good effects come from crawfish’s nutritional benefits, like protein content, which helps the muscles recover after an intense workout. In addition, as part of the seafood family, their consumption can fight sicknesses like obesity.

Due to the complexity of vitamins found in crawfish can help your immunity system as they contain B-complex vitamins, folates, niacin, vitamin B6, thiamin, and riboflavin. All this diversity of vitamins also comes from the zooplankton that crawfish eat to feed themselves.

Harmful effects come from high cholesterol in crawfish, a topic that I have widely explained below. A large quantity of cholesterol can lead to many complex conditions and diseases that can be very late to manage if you get them too late. That’s why the best way is to prevent them by not abusing cholesterol but eating a balanced diet. 

Is Crawfish High in Cholesterol?

Compared to other seafood products, maybe the cholesterol level is a little higher, although it is not the highest in cholesterol. However, this does not mean that its consumption should not be kept under control. 

So, an approximate portion of crawfish has 232 milligrams of cholesterol, while the recommendation from American Heart Association is for no more than 300 milligrams per day. So if you consume it, be careful with the other foods you will finish that day.

Another way is to eat whatever you like and try to compensate in the upcoming days by eating less food with cholesterol. 

Among seafood, there is more variety that contains more cholesterol than crawfish like shrimps, mussels, oysters, and lobster. Some products include large cholesterol, even more, significant than crawfish.

Side Effects of Eating Too Much Crawfish?

The first side effect is the high level of cholesterol that can develop fatty deposits in your blood vessels. Then, the stakes will grow and make it difficult for the blood to go through the veins as time passes. 

High cholesterol may lead directly to heart diseases developed due to the significant consumption of cholesterol for a long time. However, in a short-run period, the body does not feel any immediate side effects besides dizziness on some occasions. Still, otherwise, the body can absorb it and regulate itself. 

Another side effect of overeating crawfish is that practically you increase your chances of getting sick by Paragonimiasis, caused by some bacteria that can be present in crawfish. Of course, this is not a very common scenario, but in the USA, concrete numbers showcase where people got sick by consuming crawfish. 

Effects can be noticed immediately or after some weeks, so sometimes, it can be challenging to track them. In this case, it is better to be cautious about the quantity consumed to reduce the risk of getting sick. 

Although considering that crawfish, like other edible crustaceans, have only a tiny part of their body eatable, you may have those side effects immediately. 

What Happens If You Eat Bad Crawfish?

As with all other seafood, if you consume crawfish that has gone bad, you will get sick and have some unpleasant side effects. You will probably feel the poisoning immediately for some minutes or until some hours later. The first effects will be nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or abdominal pain. [3]

If you are not sure about the freshness of the crawfish and start feeling some of the mentioned symptoms, then you have to talk with your doctor for further treatment. Some essential advice is to keep your stomach from vomiting, although the first instinct tells you to do it to feel the relead. Overall, it does not do any good besides dehydrating and weakening your body. 

However, don’t take any drugs or pills without talking with your doctor, as you may do more harm to your body than good. Secondly, don’t get scared; it may last three hours to 3 days. If you feel bad or worried, visit the hospital, and they will advise you more precisely. 

Can You Eat the Yellow Stuff in Crawfish?

This is one of the most common questions about crawfish if you can eat the yellow part in the crawfish head. Well, good news: Yes, you can eat it and enjoy it to the fullest as it’s one of the best parts of the crawfish and a significant part of the whole experience of crawfish eating.

Many people remove it, not knowing they can consume and enjoy it. You suck it out of the crawfish shell and swallow it. The yellow part has a salty taste that some people consider fresh and some sea taste.

Next time you consume crawfish, you know that you will have one more part to taste. 

  • Laura is the owner of Julie's Cafe Bakery. She started this blog with her grandma Julie who introduced her to the amazing world of cooking. She likes to experiment with different flavors, and her favorite flavors combo is chicken with coconut milk, curry and peanuts!