Seafood Myths: Fact or Fiction?


Today we’re going to share with you some seafood facts as well as common misconceptions about fish and many other forms of seafood. We’re going to give you a 10 question True/False quiz to test your knowledge of the sea and its inhabitants. Sit back, relax, and get ready for our version of Seafood Mythbusters.

Does Portugal consume the most seafood of any country? 1. Question: Does Portugal consume the most seafood of any country?
Answer: False
Although Portugal is the largest consumer of seafood per capita in Europe, it ranks as only the 3rd highest consumer of seafood per capita in the world. Treats from the deep such as lobster, crabs, Cuttlefish, squid, octopus, Sea Bass, clams, oysters, hake, and shrimp are all very popular in mainland Europe’s westernmost nation. However, Sardines and Bacalao are the country’s two most beloved seafood treats.

Sardines play a major role in St Anthony’s Day, a Portuguese holiday which takes place annually on June 13th. Sardines are the official food of St Anthony’s Day and are seen nationwide both on dinner tables and in decorations. Bacalao is a heavily salted (for preservation) cod fillet that, when soaked and properly prepared, can be cooked in a multitude of ways and is known for its versatility in seafood soups.


2. Question: Should clams, mussels, and oysters that do not open upon cooking be eaten?
Answer: False
If a clam, oyster, or any other shellfish you happen to buy does not open up after a full cooking cycle, it would be in your best interest to discard it. There are three main reasons why a shellfish may not open its shell when fully cooked. One reason is that it was already dead when purchased. If this is the case, it may possess toxins and bacteria that are potentially dangerous. The possibility is that the particular shellfish in question has a shell that is full of mud sand and is basically gummed up and stuck shut. That’s not something you want to eat. The third possibility is that it needed just slightly more time to cook, but you’re better safe than sorry.

As a final note on “clammed up” shellfish, you may sometimes find yourself in the opposite situation. Prior to cooking, some shellfish may already be open. If they don’t immediately snap shut upon being touched, the clam/oyster/scallop/mussel is almost definitely already dead and should not be eaten.
Are raw oysters an aphrodisiac
3. Question: Are raw oysters an aphrodisiac?
Answer: True

If you’re looking to enhance your romantic life, some delicious raw oysters may be able to lend a hand. Recent studies have proven raw oysters to have an aphrodisiac effect, especially when they are consumed during spring. This is because during spring, oysters are mating and are especially rich in hormones known as D-Asparatic Acid (D-Asp) and N-Methyl D-Aspartate (NMDA)2.

These acids, when consumed by humans, trigger an increase in the human sex hormones testosterone and progesterone. So yes, the rumors are true. If you’re looking to increase the effectiveness of Cupid’s arrows, try serving up some raw oysters for dinner.


Can you be a vegetarian if you eat fish?
4. Question: Can you eat fish and still be a vegetarian?
Answer: False

A person who avoids red meat and poultry but still eats fish is classified as a pescetarian and since they are still eating the flesh of an animal, they are not true vegetarians. However, seafood is still fair game on Fridays during Lent, as is stated by the Catholic Church. The word pescetarian is a portmanteau of the “pesce”, the Italian word for fish, and vegetarian.

A pescetarian diet is most often seen in countries in Southern Europe where a Mediterranean diet is prevalent, but is also seen frequently in Japan. This type of a diet possesses some health benefits, as excessive consumption of red meat has been known to cause a myriad of illnesses. Pescetarians may also consume eggs and dairy products without breaking their dietary code.


5. Question: Can a human receive a cornea transplant from a shark?
Answer: True

While we may generally think of sharks as harmful creatures, there are times at which they can be quite helpful to humans. One of the newly discovered ways in which this is true lies in the fact that the cornea of a shark is so similar to that of a human that it may be used in transplants.

The cornea is the clear and transparent part of the eye that covers the iris, pupil, and anterior chamber. For those of you who aren’t optometrists, the iris is the colored part of your eye and the anterior chamber is the fluid-filled area of your eye that lies between the iris and the innermost layer of the cornea. Much like humans, sharks possess corneas that have special reinforcing fibers that prevent warping and blurring. This newly found medical fact has made sharks even more of a valuable catch than they already were.



6. Question: Is it safe to eat fish while pregnant?
Answer: True

Despite the warnings that nearly all mothers have heard, eating seafood during pregnancy will not hurt the developing fetus. In fact, mothers who have 8-12 oz of the right kind of fish in their diet per week have been found to have offspring who perform better in cognitive, verbal, motor skill, and social aptitude tests than those of mothers who abstain from fish entirely.

The important thing to know is which fish are safe to eat during pregnancy and which are not. Fish that contain large amounts of mercury must be avoided. These contain big game fish such as Mako Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish, Mahi Mahi, Mackerel, and Sea Bass. Excessive amounts of canned tuna should also be avoided. It is recommended that pregnant mothers try to consume 8-12 ounces of fish such as non-Atlantic Salmon, Sardines, Cod, Herring, Trout, and Anchovies every week. These fish are rich in Vitamin B3(Niacin), Vitamin B12, protein, calcium, and Vitamin D. Oily fish such as salmon and sardines are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids and when eaten in the proper amounts, will increase the proportion of Omega-3 Fatty Acids in a mother’s milk.

It’s also known that a pregnant woman’s need for iron intake is double that of a non-pregnant woman, especially in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters. When the right amount of the aforementioned fish are consumed, they will provide both mother and child with healthy red blood cells which are needed to transport oxygen throughout the body1 If you have any doubts as to fish not mentioned in this article and their safety during pregnancy, be sure to consult a physician.

7. Question: Are Mahi Mahi really Dolphins?

Answer: False

Mahi Mahi are a mild and delicious fish that are not at all related to dolphins. Their name comes from a Hawaiian phrase meaning “strong fish” and unlike Dolphins, they are not mammals at all but rather true fish. They are most closely related to Ocean Perch.

There has been much confusion over this fact because many people refer to Mahi Mahi as Dolphinfish. This has led to well-meaning protesters boycotting Mahi Mahi and the establishments that serve them. It has also led to people eating it just to say they’ve had the experience of eating dolphin meat and others claiming that Mahi Mahi are a more primitive form of dolphin and therefore are not of equal importance.



8. Question: Is fish really “brain food”?
Answer: True

The whole “fish is brain food” mantra is one old adage that actually holds very much true. As stated in previous articles and even earlier in this one, oily fish such as Salmon and Sardines are highly rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. These help fetal development as stated before, but also offer benefits to children and non-pregnant adults. Consuming seafood helps to lower the risk of Alzheimer’s Disease and have been shown to help lower the effects of Schizophrenia, Dyslexia, Autism, and ADHD. In addition to this, consuming seafoods that are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids have been linked to a lower likelihood of depression.

Augmenting the benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids to your brain are the benefits they provide to the rest of your body. Consumption of Omega-3s has been proven to produce healthier skin, stronger nails, and shinier hair3

9. Question: Are dolphins and porpoises fish?

Answer: False

While dolphins and porpoises live in the sea, they are not fish at all but rather mammals. They give birth to live young, breathe air, and nurse their young. All three of these are requirements of mammals (except for the Duck-Billed Platypus which lays eggs) and therefore means that they are not fish. However, calling Mahi Mahi Dolphinfish, as mentioned earlier on in this article has not helped to dispel the confusion and works to further the myth of dolphins being fish.

10. Question: Is Quahog a term that can be accurately applied to all clams?

Answer: False

While some sources in books, online, and in television (and unfortunately even in some seafood establishments) may extend the term Quahog to all steamers, it in reality only covers the largest ones. There’s somewhat of a small, medium, and large system when it comes to classifying clams. If you’re buying the smallest steamers in the market, they’re Littlenecks, the medium-sized steamers are referred to as Cherrystones, and only the largest specimens are true Quahogs.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our little seafood quiz and maybe learned something from it as well. The next time you’re in a room and hear someone ask any of the questions mentioned in this article, you’ll be armed with the knowledge to quickly dazzle everyone present with the depths of your seafood knowledge.


Works Cited

1. Cunningham, Eleese
Seafood Dos and Don’ts When Pregnant

2. Lusher, Adam
Raw Oysters Really Are an Aphrodisiac, Scientists Say and Now is the Best Time to Eat Them
The Telegraph, March 20, 2005

3. Author Unavailable
Is Fish Good For the Brain? You Bet it is.
Health 4 You Online, January 28, 2012

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