Jellyfish are free-swimming marine creatures with umbrella-shaped gelatinous bodies and tentacles. They have a simple body structure without a well-developed brain, lungs, or intestines. However, they have a well-organised tissue system. Jellyfish are not fish; they are planktons. Generally, fish are vertebrates that survive in water and breathe through gills. However, jellyfish are invertebrates without backbones and breathe through membranes.
Jellyfish are the oldest known multicellular organism. They have been in existence for over 500 million years. In addition, they dwell in every ocean and are invasive in certain regions. They have a lifespan of up to 30 years. They thrive well in cold and warm deep water and along the coastline. You may find jellyfish in vibrant shades of pink, yellow, blue, and purple, clear and luminescent.
Jellyfish have minute sting cells (nematocysts) in their tentacles. These cells contain a poisonous substance (venom) that helps jellyfish protect themselves. However, stings may be excruciating to humans. It is sometimes life-threatening if stung from deadly or venomous species. However, they don’t attack humans deliberately. Most stings occur when accidentally in contact with a jellyfish. The stings are the defensive mechanism to paralyse their prey. However, the benefits of these gelatinous ancient creatures are beyond a stinging affair. They are versatile in countless ways.
Jellyfish are part of cuisines in certain culinary cultures. For example, they are considered a delicacy in Asian cuisines, especially Chinese and Japanese. According to Australians, Jellyfish is a proteinaceous, low-calorie sustainable food.
Jellyfish have excellent nutritional properties. They are low in calories with a great source of essential elements, antioxidants, minerals and other vital nutrients.
1cup (58 grams) of dried jellyfish comprises of:
- Calories: 21
- Protein: 3 grams
- Fat: 1 gram
- Selenium: 45% of the Daily Value (DV)
- Choline: 10% of the DV
- Iron: 7% of the DV
Additionally, jellyfish have adequate amounts of calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus. It is also a source of polyunsaturated fats like Omega 3 fatty acids, Omega 6 fatty acids, and antioxidants like polyphenols.
7 Proven Health Benefits of Jellyfish
Most species of jellyfish are edible and are a rich source of nutrients. They have low calories with high antioxidant properties, which prevent cell injury. Radical cell injury may induce many disorders. In addition, the presence of omega3 fatty acids makes them healthier food options. That is because omega3 fatty acids prevent fat deposition along the artery walls and help prevent heart diseases.
Let us evaluate the health benefits of jellyfish in detail.
1. Aids in Weight Management
Jellyfish have low carbohydrates and calories. That makes jellyfish a preferred choice for a weight loss diet.
Additionally, it is an excellent source of protein, which helps to maintain healthy muscles during a diet. It is also rich in amino acids, an integral part of growth and cell repair.
2. Prevent Brain Linked Disorders
Our metabolism process includes DNA synthesis, fat synthesis, transport and metabolism.
Jellyfish contains choline, a calcium-binding protein essential in multiple phases of cell metabolism. Usually, the brain synthesises choline by itself. However, it diminishes progressively with age.
Choline counteracts the risk of age-related brain diseases like Alzheimer and dementia. It also helps to improve brain functioning. Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress to cells. It is a root cause for brain disorders like Alzheimer’s. Moreover, selenium reduces or prevents the symptoms of anxiety.
Research suggests that the protein found in jellyfish is neuroprotective. It may effectively treat neurodegenerative diseases.
3. Promote Cognitive Behaviour
The amino acids and protein in jellyfish optimise nervous cell regeneration.
In addition, the calcium-binding protein and antioxidant properties enhance cognitive behaviour. It also controls and diminishes the symptoms of dementia, especially memory loss.
4. Prevents Skin Ageing and Enhances Skin Health
The regenerative properties of jellyfish are beneficial. The choline in jellyfish aids in cell repair and regeneration. In addition, the collagen content imparts firm and youthful skin. The antioxidant properties reduce oxidative stress to prevent cell injury. These properties may help in delaying the signs of ageing. A study suggests that hydrolysed form of collagen is a novel anti photoaging agent and protects against UV-induced damages. In addition, it also plays a vital role in healing wounds.
The human synthesises collagen via vitamin C metabolism. However, jellyfish naturally contain collagen. It is an essential component of skin health and helps to maintain skin elasticity irrespective of age. It also regulates skin cell regeneration to impart a firm and youthful appearance. Therefore, cosmetic industries use it in their products for its rejuvenation properties. It is also a part of many medicines, especially wound healing and reconstructive medications.
5. Protects Heart Health
Jellyfish have polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and omega-3 fatty acids. They help to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol) and elevate the HDL levels in the blood. It is vital in heart health to reduce the risk of cardiac disorders.
In addition, jellyfish are low in calories and carbohydrates. These attributes in jellyfish make it a heart-healthy food.
6. Normalise Blood Pressure
The collagen in jellyfish has potential benefits in lowering blood pressure. Polyphenols (an antioxidant) may help prevent the hardening of arteries.
It effectively lowers blood pressure and facilitates smooth blood circulation. As a result, it helps to improve blood vessel health.
7. Rich in Selenium
Jellyfish is an excellent source of selenium. It is an essential mineral that plays a significant role in several vital body processes. For example, selenium is an antioxidant that protects your cells from oxidative stress. In addition, it may help reduce the risk of diseases like cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart diseases.
As per studies, selenium is also essential for thyroid function and metabolism. Although jellyfish is rich in selenium, more research is needed to demonstrate its benefits on humans.
How to Include Jellyfish in Your Diet?
You can use jellyfish as an appetiser or as an addition to your soups and salads. They are easy to prepare and healthy too. However, it is recommended to use dried jellyfish. You may serve it with vegetables topped with some roasted sesame seeds. Jellyfish adds crunchiness and taste to any dish. The most common ways to use them are:
- People use it to make pickles
- You can also make wraps, salads, soups and noodles
- In Thailand, people use jellyfish for making crunchy style noodles
Now we know the health benefits and ways to add jellyfish as a part of our diet. Let us find a few easy healthy recipes to prepare using jellyfish.
1. Sesame Jellyfish Salad
- Servings: 2
- Preparation time: 10 minutes
- 1 cup (250 ml): 148 Calories
- Jellyfish (cooked): 1 cup
- Green onions (sliced): 1 tablespoon
- Garlic: 1 teaspoon
- Olive oil: 1 tablespoon
- Salt: to taste
- Peppercorns (ground): 1 teaspoon
- Chopped cilantro to garnish
- Add oil to a heated pan.
- Now, add garlic and onion. And saute well for 2 minutes.
- Then, add the jellyfish and mix well
- Add salt and cook for a minute
- Add crushed pepper and roasted sesame seeds
- Garnish with cilantro and serve
2. Jellyfish Sesame Soup
Serving: 1 cup (250 ml)
- Ready-to-eat jellyfish: 1 cup
- Sesame oil: 1 teaspoon
- Garlic: 1 teaspoon
- Ginger: 1 teaspoon
- Spring onion (sliced): 1/2 cup
- Sesame seeds (roasted): 2 tablespoon
- Chilli flakes: 1 teaspoon
- Pepper crushed: 2 teaspoon
- Salt-to taste
- Water or fish stock: 2 cups
- Add oil to a heated pan.
- Then, add garlic and ginger, and saute for a few seconds.
- Now, add spring onion and sauté for a minute
- Add jellyfish, water or fish broth and mix well
- Bring to a boil and simmer for 4-5 minutes
- Mix in roasted sesame seeds, crushed pepper and chilli flakes
- Serve hot
Non-culinary Uses of Jellyfish
Jellyfish are not confined to culinary uses. On the contrary, it has many fascinating benefits in its non-culinary forms. Let us analyse a few of them.
1. Jellyfish as Pets
Moon jellyfish is a common variant among ornamental categories of fishes. They may survive in temperatures around 27-30 degrees Celsius as well. It is suitable for warm home aquariums.
2. Effective Fertilizer
Jellyfish are desalinated and dried to chips are used as organic fertilisers. People use jellyfish chips to revive and rejuvenate forests for forest restoration projects. It enhances the nutrient property of the soil to inhibit weed growth. It also increases the moisture content before sowing the seeds. Jellyfish’s fertilised cultivation has consistently harvested better results than rice bran or other organic fertilisers.
3. Jellyfish for Environmental Protection
Go Jelly is a project intended to reduce and save water bodies from microplastic pollution. Currently, sewage treatment is inefficient in trapping microplastic due to its nominal size. However, studies show that jellyfish mucus is efficient in binding microplastic. Hence, biofilters reinforced with mucus are implemented in sewage treatment plants and factories with microplastic as waste products. Apart from environmental protection, it also helps to control the jellyfish population.
4. Artificial Tears
Mucin is a protein in jellyfish with the property to retain moisture. Therefore, it is used in artificial tears. In addition, jellyfish use mucin to defend against predators.
5. Space Research
Space research used jellyfish as an experimental specimen to observe the developmental stages of growth in microgravity. Calcium sulphate crystals in jellyfish sense gravity. They also provided fascinating information when reproduced in space at zero gravity and survived in the earth’s atmosphere. Space born jellyfish paved the way to a new realm in scientific studies and possibilities of extraterrestrial life.
Jellyfish: Possible Side Effects and Complications
Jellyfish stings are grave concerns for swimmers, waders, or divers. The sting may be deadly venomous, which may be fatal. The symptoms of stings differ depending on the type of jellyfish. Primary symptoms include:
- Itching, rashes, pain
- Chest pain
- Lymph node swelling
- Muscle cramps
- Abdominal cramps
There are cases of anaphylactic reaction or allergies with jellyfish consumption. Allergies manifest as skin blisters, numbness or tingling sensation, nausea, vomiting and furthermore.
2. Aluminium Toxicity
Anglers use a high dose of aluminium to preserve jellyfish. In addition, they use potassium aluminium sulphate as an additive. However, excess use of this compound results in degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, inflammatory bowel disease etc.
Precautions while Using Jellyfish
1. Avoid Fresh Jelly Fish in Your Diet
Jellyfish decay within a few hours and turn toxic. Therefore, it is recommended to eat dried or pickled form.
2. Protective Suit
Wear a protective stinger or skin suit while you swim or dive in jellyfish prone waters. It is made of high fabric to protect you from such hazardous stings. Protective footwear is also ideal to avoid stings along the shore or shallow waters.
3. Be Informed
Make yourself aware of the safety measures and environment in the coastal waters, which may have jellyfish. You may gather information from lifeguards, residents or officials. It may ensure you a safer and pleasant experience in water activities. It is also safe to stay away from both water and coast during the breeding season of jellyfish.
Jellyfish are considered one of the oldest survivors on earth. They originated before dinosaurs. In addition, they adapt to varying temperatures. Some varieties thrive in sub-arctic conditions too. As a result, these gelatinous marine creatures are subjects of interest globally for various benefits and research. Furthermore, the Jellyfish populations are booming due to the extinction of their predators.
You can also reap the benefits of this marine creature. First, however, be informed and use it in the right way.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q. What nutrition does jellyfish have?
A. Jellyfish is low in calories and fats. However, it is high in antioxidants, essential minerals like choline, selenium, collagen, omega3 and omega6 fatty acids etc. These nutrients are necessary across various metabolic activities of the body.
Q. Are jellyfish good or bad?
A. Certain species of jellyfish are perfect and safe for human consumption. Moreover, they are full of nutrients involving antioxidants and proteins for the body’s vital functions. Nonetheless, certain species are highly venomous and deadly. Jellyfish sting may result in multiple allergies. It may be fatal too.
Q. How is jellyfish used in medicine?
A. Jellyfish are an excellent source of collagen. It is an element that aids in the healing and regeneration of cells. This property of collagen is used in medicine synthesis and reconstructive surgery.
Q. Is jellyfish good for your brain?
A. The calcium-binding properties of the protein in jellyfish enhances your memory. That is because the body naturally synthesises it. However, due to ageing, it declines. Jellyfish supplements may compensate for these levels. As a result, jellyfish are good for the brain.
Q. Do jellyfish have healing powers?
A. Medical science uses collagen widely in reconstructive surgery and arthritis to reduce joint inflammation due to its healing properties. In addition, the antioxidant polyphenol prevents radical cell injury, which induces multiple disorders and infections.
Q. Why are jellyfish important?
A. Jellyfish have several benefits, including health benefits. For example, it’s highly nutritious, heart-healthy, promotes memory, delays age-related signs etc. Additionally, it is a vital aspect for environmental protection, space studies, the cosmetic industry and more.
Q. Is jellyfish poisonous?
A. Yes, a few varieties of jellyfish, like the sea wasp, are deadly. The stinging cells (nematocysts) in jellyfish contain a poisonous substance. It helps jellyfish protect themselves. However, it may induce venom, which may be fatal and life-threatening.
Q. What happens if you eat a jellyfish?
A. Only certain varieties are nutritious and safe for dietary intake. In contrast, the intake of other species has shown allergic reactions like rashes, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps. However, eating the safe varieties may improve your heart health, prevent premature skin ageing, improve brain health, and reduce blood pressure.
Q. What proteins do jellyfish have?
A. Collagen is a prominent protein in jellyfish. It is vital for the growth and repair of tissues, especially skin, nerves and bone.
Q. Is jellyfish good for pregnancy?
A. Jellyfish are safe to consume during pregnancy. Expectant mothers who take a recommended dose of jellyfish are at fewer risks of preterm or premature delivery. Nutrient laden jellyfish may also enhance the overall health of your baby. However, there may be seafood allergies in some individuals. Therefore check with your doctor before any dietary changes during pregnancy.
Q. Can eating fish while pregnant cause a miscarriage?
A. Dietary intake of edible varieties of fish in recommended amount may not cause miscarriage. It provides added nutrients for the growth and health of the foetus and mother. However, some individuals may encounter unusual allergies or changes during pregnancy. Therefore, you should make any dietary alterations during pregnancy after consulting with your healthcare provider. It may help avoid any unusual complications to both the mother and baby.
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