Is Unagi good for Health?

Some of you may have heard of the popular ingredient in Japanese cuisine known as Unagi. It also can be possible that perhaps some of you may not have heard of this famed ingredient in the cuisine of the land of the rising sun. Either way you are in for a treat. By the time you have finished reading this, you will acquire a deeper appreciation for Unagi. Have I piqued your interest? That’s wonderful! Now then, Let us begin.

A little introduction to Unagi

First off, for those who may not know, the word Unagi comes from the Japanese language and means freshwater eel. Moreover its specific English name is Japanese Freshwater Eel. On top of this, Unagi is found in other countries too. They include Korea, the Philippines, China and Vietnam. For many people their first introduction to Unagi may have been by encountering it through a Japanese restaurant or a documentary about Japanese cuisine.

Whatever the case may be, one thing is clear: Unagi is a very important ingredient in the cuisine of these countries. One of the major reasons for it has many health benefits. This has created renown for this sea creature in these cultures. As an example Japan regards Unagi as a food with a variety of health boosting benefits. For good measure, we will look at some of these benefits as we go along. Read on to find out more!

Packed with a variety of great nutritional benefits

We shall now discuss some of the beneficial nutrients found in Unagi.

Vitamin A

Let us start with Vitamin A. Vitamin A has many benefits. These include anti-inflammatory properties due to its role in augmenting the functioning of the immune system. Apart from that, Vitamin A is beneficial for maintaining good eye health and preventing night blindness according to various studies.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids

For good measure, Unagi has Omega 3 Fatty acids that help boost your health. Omega 3 reputedly has many benefits. These benefits include, helping to relieve menstrual cramps , enhancing cognitive function, maintaining bone health and many more health enhancing properties.

Vitamin D

Unagi has an additional vitamin with many benefits. It is namely Vitamin D. Some of the health boosting attributes of Vitamin D include aiding in the absorption of calcium. This in turn helps to build strong bones. As a result Vitamin D is really useful in helping to protect you from osteoporosis. Apart from that it helps to strengthen your immune system by helping your body to fight against invading viruses and bacteria.

Here’s a table to help you remember the key points

Nutrient nameBenefits
Vitamin A1. Anti-inflammatory properties due to it augmenting the functioning of the Immune System.
2. Vitamin A helps to maintain good eye health and prevents night blindness.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids1. Provides relief for menstrual cramps.
2. Omega 3 Fatty Acids helps to enhance cognitive function.
3. Omega 3 Fatty Acids supports the maintenance of good bone health.
Vitamin D1.Vitamin D helps the body to absorb calcium  more effectively.
2. Helps to protect you from Osteoporosis.
3. Supports the strengthening of your immune system which will aid your body to fight viruses and bacteria better.

Some examples of food that use Unagi as an ingredient

From our discussion above, you have come across some of the greatly beneficial nutritional values of Unagi. That being said, you may be thinking to yourself about the different kinds of food that feature Unagi as an ingredient. Fret not! Let us take a look at some food varieties from Japanese cuisine that feature Unagi as a prominent ingredient.

Unagi Kabayaki

Unagi Kabayaki is a popular Japanese dish. This dish involves Unagi being cut into fillets, grilled and covered in a sauce called Kabayaki Tare. The term Kabayaki comes from the Japanese language and refers to the cooking process that makes the dish appear similar to a Cattail plant.


Some of you may be familiar with Unadon. For those who have not heard of it, the dish’s name Unadon is a combination of the Japanese words Unagi (A name meaning freshwater eel) and don (which refers to the rice bowl used to serve this eel and rice dish). The eel ingredient used for this dish is Unagi Kabayaki. This ingredient is placed on rice in a bowl and becomes Unadon. Beyond this Unadon comes with other ingredients and accompaniments. An example of such an accompaniment as Miso Soup.


Unaju is another kind of Japanese food that uses Unagi as an ingredient. This dish’s name comes from a combination of the term Unagi and Jubako. The Japanese term Jubako means ‘layered box’. This layered box is used to serve different kinds of food like Unaju. It differs from Unadon in terms of the utensils used.


This next dish is a very unique kind of Japanese cuisine. Hitsumabushi gets its name from the vessel used to serve the this dish and the fact that it has a mixture of different ingredients. That vessel is called Ohitsu in Japanese. Furthermore, the word mabushi means mixed in Japanese. Like Unadon and Unaju, Hitsumabushi uses Unagi Kabayaki and rice. Where this dish differs however is in terms of the utensil used as well as another ingredient that is utilised in it. That ingredient is Green Tea, which is poured on the rice and Unagi. This attribute makes Hitsumabushi a type of Chazuke. Chazuke is a Japanese term for dishes that are submerged in green tea.

Unagi Nigiri

Another dish that is also very popular is Unagi Nigiri. This sushi dish uses Unagi as a topping on sushi rice wrapped with nori seaweed. It is a very tasty dish that both the young and the old love.

Where to buy Unagi

Have I whet your appetite? Whatever the case may be, you could be wondering about places where you can find Unagi. Not to worry. I am here to help. You can find Unagi at online stores like Pickme and Shopee as well as stores that specialise in selling Japanese products and major supermarket chains such as NTUC Fairprice and Cold Storage to name a few.

Some Final Thoughts

I hope that you have been able to gain a deeper appreciation of Unagi as a food ingredient not only because of exposure to cuisines that feature it but also due to a newfound knowledge about its nutritional benefits, which I hope will be of great use to you. Till the next time we meet, keep learning and reading.

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