Do people eat horseshoe crabs?

In this article we are going to answer: do people eat horseshoe crabs, what are horseshoe crabs, if horseshoe crabs are healthy to eat, what is the risk of eating horseshoe crabs, and how you add horseshoe crabs to your diet. 

Do people eat horseshoe crabs?

Yes, people do eat horseshoe crabs and their eggs are a delicacy, especially in Asian culture. They only have a small proportion of meat to eat. It has a rubber-like texture and it is usually cooked grilled, boiled, or baked. 

What are horseshoe crabs?

Horseshoe crabs are marine crabs from the family of Limulidae. They are not true crabs, instead, they are chelicerates and are closely related to arachnids such as spiders. They live in and around the coastal waters. 

They have a hard shell that is very hard to break and a tale that helps them to protect themselves from predators. Horseshoe crabs normally eat worms, clams, small crabs, any small animal, and some algae. They do not have teeth so they crush their food with their legs before eating it. 

They are known as blue blood animals because when exposed to air, their blood turns blue because it is high in copper and contains a pigment known as hemocyanin. 

They are commonly eaten in some parts of Asia along with their eggs. The edible part of horseradish is its roe which has a rubbery texture.  The eggs are not completely safe to eat because they can have a toxin dangerous to humans. They are also commonly used in fertilizers and in science. 

Are horseshoe crabs healthy to eat?

It is so unusual to eat horseshoe crabs that there is no nutritional value information about them. They have little to no flesh to eat and they can be toxic to humans. This means that not because some cultures eat animals that are not usual to eat it is healthy to eat them. 

The horseshoe crabs are more famous because of their use in the pharmaceutical industry. Their blood is used to make substances for bacterial toxins testing, the most famous is E.coli. The pharmaceutical companies take about a third part of their blood and then release the crabs back into the oceans. 

What is the risk of eating horseshoe crabs?

There is none to little information about the risk of eating horseshoe crabs because they are very uncommonly eaten. There is a study that was made in China in 2001 that tested the poisoning effects of eating horseshoe crabs. 

The results were two major causes of poisoning from eating horseshoe crabs in the south region of the sea coast of China. 

  • One cause is tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin that causes symptoms between 30 minutes. Symptoms include paresthesia, hypersalivation, sweating, headache, weakness, lethargy, tremor, paralysis, cyanosis, and seizure. 

It can also include gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. 

  • Allergic reactions to the horseshoe crab. This reaction is similar to allergic reactions to shrimps or crab 

The only way to prevent this food poisoning is not to eat horseshoe crab. There is no antidote for tetrodotoxin. 

How do you add horseshoe crabs to your diet?

Horseshoe crabs are eaten in Thailand and China where there are special restaurants that exclusively sell horseshoe crabs to eat. They are known in Asia as aphrodisiacs to men. 

There is little to no meat in these crabs. The only edible part is the roe and the eggs that can be toxic. These restaurants normally will serve you the row of horseshoe crab in different ways

  • The most common way to serve it is to grill the whole horseshoe crab and serve it on a plate. You will need to take away one part of the crab and take out the row with a spoon. 
  • Horseshoe crab can be boiled in hot water 
  • Horseshoe crab roe can be added to salad or vegetables, such as Yam Khai Maeng Da Or or Som Tam
  • Roe mixed with eggs to make scrambled eggs or omelets

Follow this link for more information on how horseshoe crabs are eaten in Thailand. 


This article answered do people eat horseshoe crabs, what are horseshoe crabs, if horseshoe crabs are healthy to eat, what is the risk of eating horseshoe crabs, and how do you add horseshoe crabs to your diet. 


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