What Happens If You Eat Undercooked Salmon?

Salmon makes a delicious dish. Whether it's baked, pan-fried, or grilled, there are many ways to enjoy this healthy fish. WebMD shares that salmon is a great source of protein and contains many essential nutrients including vitamin B12, potassium, iron, and vitamin D. According to Healthline, salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on Earth due to its high amount of omega-3 content. Just 3.5 ounces has 2,260 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids. They provide many health benefits, such as a decrease in the risk of heart disease and stroke and a reduction in rheumatoid arthritis symptoms (via the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health).

While the benefits of eating this fish are plentiful, there are some drawbacks when you eat salmon that has not been properly prepared. Because sushi and sashimi are commonly consumed, you may be wondering why it's important to cook your salmon before eating it. The reason may be exactly what you think.

Cook your salmon to avoid parasites

A 2017 study cited by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that wild salmon caught in Alaska can be infected with the parasite Japanese broad tapeworm. Food Safety Magazine notes that eating raw or undercooked fish like sushi, sashimi, and ceviche increases the risk of becoming infected with the parasite. In addition to tapeworms, raw salmon can harbor other dangerous parasites, viruses, and bacteria that can make you sick (via Healthline).

"If you're in a high-risk group, don't chance it," wrote private practice performance nutritionist Cynthia Sass for Health. She goes on to explain that when you choose to eat sushi at a restaurant, make sure the establishment is clean and follows all safety protocols. Otherwise, it's a safer choice to order a cooked dish.

To ensure your salmon is safe to eat when cooking at home, freeze it at -4 degrees Fahrenheit for a few days, or cook it to an internal temperature of at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit (via Food Network). The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) reports that you should freeze your fish before eating it raw, as that will kill some parasites, but the safest way to consume salmon is by cooking it.