Can You Eat Swordfish Raw?

A swordfish is a large, predatory fish that is distinguishable by its long, flat, pointed bill. You may have seen some of these fish in an aquarium. But have you ever wondered if you could eat swordfish?

Sadly, you cannot eat swordfish raw. Mercury is present in many fish, and mercury levels in some fish are greater than others. Swordfish, as well as king mackerel, have some of the greatest concentrations of mercury, so it is best to avoid eating it raw.

Continue reading to learn more about eating swordfish as well as what fish are the safest to eat when raw.

Do People Get Ill From Swordfish?

It is possible to get ill from eating swordfish, and this is due to the levels of mercury present in swordfish. All fish contain certain levels of mercury. The size of the fish, however, can be an indication as to how high the levels of mercury may be in the fish, so larger fish may have higher levels of mercury compared to smaller fish.

Some fish, such as swordfish, king mackerel, and sharks, have dangerously high levels of mercury that can make you sick if you eat the fish raw. If you eat too much mercury, it is highly likely that you could end up suffering from mercury poisoning.

What is Mercury Poisoning?

Despite mercury being an element that naturally occurs in the air, water, and soil, too much exposure to mercury, such as ingesting it, can cause serious health problems. Mercury can affect the nervous system, the digestive system, and the immune system.

It can also have toxic effects on certain parts of your body, such as your lungs, kidneys, and skin. The most common way that people come into contact with mercury is through eating fish, such as swordfish.

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Some signs of mercury poisoning include:

  • Tremors
  • Memory loss
  • Neuromuscular effects
  • Motor dysfunction
  • Insomnia

It is important that if you are exposed to high levels of mercury to seek medical attention.

Benefit of Eating Swordfish

Despite the possible danger that can come with eating raw swordfish, it is actually a fish that you can benefit from eating from, if it is cooked properly.

The biggest benefit from eating swordfish is that swordfish is very high in protein. Protein helps your body maintain your body tissue as well as repair and build the tissue. Swordfish is also rich in selenium. Selenium can help build up a resistance to cancer as well as help keep your heart healthy.

Swordfish also has other nutrients such as Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids as well as niacin, a B vitamin that can help treat high cholesterol. Swordfish is also very low in sugars and fats which can make it a great addition to someone on a diet.

Surprisingly, swordfish has been found to taste delicious, so you do not have to try to force yourself to swallow it down. It is also sustainably farmed, so you do not have to worry about having a dangerous environmental impact by eating swordfish.

Problems with Eating Swordfish

The biggest concern when it comes to eating swordfish is the mercury content of the fish, which we discussed above. Exposure to high levels of mercury could be detrimental to your overall health, so it is best to monitor the mercury levels of the fish you are eating as well as avoid eating high quantities of fish that are known to have high levels of mercury, such as swordfish.

While this is the primary problem that can come with eating swordfish, it can be avoided if you are not eating the swordfish in large quantities and having it properly prepared rather than eating it raw. Raw swordfish is much more likely to contain higher levels of mercury, so it is in this form that you should avoid eating.

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Who Should Avoid Eating Swordfish?

Despite the benefits of eating swordfish, pregnant women should avoid eating it all together. The intake of mercury that is present in the swordfish could harm the unborn child. 

There have been studies that have shown that an intake of mercury, especially high levels of mercury which are present in swordfish, can possibly result in developmental issues in newborn babies.

What Does Swordfish Taste Like?

Swordfish does not taste overly fishy, like some other fish do. It actually has a mild taste that is somewhat sweet. 

Some have compared the taste of swordfish to the taste of tuna. The main difference between the taste of the two is that swordfish tastes somewhat denser and stronger than the taste of tuna. There is also less of an oily taste when eating swordfish.

Some people do not care about eating fish because of the taste. This makes swordfish a great fish for them to eat. Swordfish does not taste like regular fish. It does not taste as fishy.

If you have found that you never liked fish because of the way it had tasted, swordfish may be a good option for you.

What is the Safest Fish to Eat Raw?

There is really no way to determine if a fish is really safe to eat raw. You can go based on the idea of mercury levels being correlated to the size of the fish. By this standard, smaller fish tend to be safer to eat rather than larger fish, like swordfish.

There are some fish that should just never be eaten when raw. These fish include those like the pollock and the haddock. These fish can cause you to become sick if you happen to eat them raw.

When choosing a fish to eat raw, you need to truly think and determine if it will be safe to eat raw. In most grocery stores, you will find fish that are labelled “Sushi Grade Fish”. This label often indicates that it is okay for you to eat that fish raw. You will still need to check to ensure that it is safe though.

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There are some fish that are considered safe to eat raw, and you will sometimes see these types of fish on the menu at sushi restaurants. These fish include:

  • Octopus
  • Eel
  • Crab
  • Tuna
  • Trout
  • Salmon
  • Seabass
  • Shrimp

While swordfish is often eaten raw, it is not one of the safest fishes to eat. This is of course due to the levels of mercury. If you notice, the list above includes fish that tend to be smaller in size. These fish will have levels of mercury that are much lower than the levels in swordfish.


Swordfish is a very large fish that can be dangerous if eaten raw. If you happen to eat too much swordfish, you can contract mercury poisoning which can harm your nervous, immune, and digestive systems.

There are some benefits that come with eating swordfish. Swordfish tends to be high in protein and contains many vitamins and minerals that can help your body. Swordfish also tastes different when compared to other fish.

Swordfish is known to be a good fish to try if you do not like the taste of fish. It has a sweet and mild taste that is not super oily. It also has a denser and stronger taste than tuna.

Despite all of the benefits of swordfish, you must be wary when choosing to eat the fish raw. This is something to keep in mind when it comes to most fish. While there are some that it is safe to eat when raw, there are others that should never be eaten raw.

You will have to do some research in order to determine whether or not a fish is safe to eat raw, but swordfish is often okay as long as it is not in large quantities.