Urologists warn against common habit when eating prawns

by Lorraine Williamson

Seafood such as prawns and mussels are an indispensable part of the Spanish diet. Even in the farthest corners of the peninsula you will find dishes in which you can taste these delicacies from the sea. And often the head of the prawn is sucked out. A habit that is not wise, according to urologists.

They warn of certain risks that you can run when consuming seafood. That’s because they often contain significant amounts of heavy metals like cadmium or mercury or purines. Purines are found in specific parts, such as the head, of the prawn. They are converted into uric acid, a compound that can ruin the kidneys, according to urologists and nutritionists. Sucking out the head is therefore not a good idea, they say.

What is uric acid and why is it harmful?

Uric acid is a chemical compound, an end product of the breakdown of (body) proteins. In addition, purine enters the body through food. Like prawns. Normally, uric acid is dissolved in the blood and filtered by the kidneys, after which it is removed from the body through the urine.

In too large quantities, the body cannot process it and eventually uric acid crystals are formed. These are stored in the joints and tissues and cause inflammation and pain, a condition known as gout, a form of arthritis. In addition, a high level of uric acid can contribute to the formation of kidney stones.

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Cadmium in the head of prawns

Another reason why eating too much seafood, especially prawns, can be dangerous to health is because of the cadmium. Again, this is mainly in the headline. Cadmium is a highly toxic and carcinogenic metal. Long-term exposure or high levels can cause serious health problems, but especially in the kidneys and bones, leading to diseases such as kidney failure and osteomalacia.

Cadmium is found in the head of the prawn because the prawn’s internal organs, such as the hepatopancreas, the digestive gland, tend to accumulate heavy metals. The European Commission has set maximum limits for cadmium in various foods, including shellfish. The World Health Organisation (WHO) recommends a tolerable daily intake of cadmium, usually around 0.025 mg per kilogram of body weight.

Also read: Eating fish in Spain – what are the safest?

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