Health benefits of eating eel

You may not like eels visually as they look rather like black snakes, but they are nutritious, healthy and taste very good – and you don’t have to take my word for it! I love them and I haven’t had to acquire a taste for them. I probably ate several plastic cups of jellied eels before I realized what I was eating. My grandfather loved them and that was enough for me. They’re a meaty, fishy thing texture-wise, but since they were in a jelly, they were also slippery.

London’s East End is famous for its pie, mash and liqueur, and its jellies or stewed eels. The popular classes ate them abundantly in the 1800s and the tradition continues today. In cake shops you can find tourists and locals trying the local “delicacy” if you can call it mashed potatoes and a meat pie covered in pea sauce that may have been made with the water left over from cooking eels.

Eels are good for you because they contain Omega-6 fatty acids, and therefore have all the benefits of other fatty fish like mackerel and salmon. They contain the minerals calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, selenium (the mineral of well-being as I like to think of it), manganese, zinc and iron. As far as minerals go, they are an excellent source of vitamins A and B12 and also an excellent source of protein. They do not contain carbohydrates, but have 18 amino acids and vitamins A, C, E (in the form of alpha-tocopherol) k, B complex vitamins, B1, B2, B3, B6, folic acid, B5, B12 and choline. That means they’re heart-healthy, protect the central nervous system, aid vision, promote hair growth, and help rejuvenate the skin, and of course there’s selenium, which is good for the brain and improves mood.

This year, the price of eels and czechs (little eels) has skyrocketed, partly because populations in the Thames have declined, and partly because people have realized that eels are healthy and tasty, too. In April 2012, American fishermen in Portland, Maine said a pound of eels could fetch more than $2,000. The season for elves is short, running from February to May.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw these darting, transparent little creatures crawling over the prawns and fish in Swansea Market. I got over it though and ate them when we got home. You can still buy them there with the fresh clams and laverbread (cooked seaweed). Jellied eels can be prepared at home, they are boiled in water and spices and the water is left to cool and then it becomes jelly as the eel is fat, as I said above. You can eat them hot or cold, and if you’re in the East End of London, they’ll be served to you in a bowl, and given already chopped as you traditionally eat them with a fork and spoon – no knife.

It seems like they’re not as cheap as they used to be, but they’re just as tasty, so forget your biases and give them a try. They’re good for you.

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