10 Reasons To Stop Eating Fake Crab Surimi

Heard of fake crab surimi? So have we. And what we know about it isn’t good.

In fact, it’s so not good that it’s probably time you gave this cheap imitation seafood a rest, and swapped it for something healthier.

You might say that you eat fake crab surimi to help you lose weight. But as we’ll find out, it’s actually the enemy of all weight-loss plans.

Seafood, of course, is super healthy. Japanese islanders just love to add seaweed to their meals (sometimes they’ll just munch on fried seaweed as a snack), and it’s well known that the Japanese have one of the best life expectancies in the world.

And then there is salmon, an oily fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which promote better brain health.

And who can forget tuna and ALL THE PROTEIN?

The problem here is that, despite the rise in popularity of fake crab surimi, the clue is kinda in the name: It’s fake seafood. Is this really that bad? Well, yes!

These imitation crab sticks (surimi means stick in English) look really tempting when you pass them at the grocery. They’re colourful, snack-sized, and essentially advertised as sea food. What’s not to like? You’ve already tasted them too, and they taste just like crab. Divine!

Even better, they’re much cheaper than crab itself. Yay!

But what is the deal with fake crab surimi? What is actually in them?

Surimi – which, as we said means stick in English – actually means “ground meat” in Japanese. To make surimi, you have to take a portion of white meat fish and then mash it up. Bear in mind, this meat fish is usually not crab. It’s often something such as pollock.

So, you keep mashing until you get a thick paste consistency.

At this point, it doesn’t much smell or taste like crab. It doesn’t even look like crab. But that’s no problem, because you’ve still got some things to do yet. You’ve still got some culinary magic conjure. To make the surimi look, feel, taste and smell like crab, you now need to add a few more ingredients to the mix.

Here are some ingredients you might add (these ingredients actually make up the list of ingredients for one particular brand of fake crab sticks):

  • Alaska pollock
  • Egg whites
  • Water
  • Sugar
  • Wheat starch
  • Corn starch
  • Natural and artificial flavour
  • Oyster
  • Extracts of crab
  • Scallop
  • Salmon
  • Anchovy
  • Lobster
  • Bonito
  • Refined fish oil
  • Sea salt
  • Rice wine
  • Modified tapioca starch
  • Wheat proteins
  • Disodium inosinate (WHAT)
  • Corn
  • Hydrolysed corn
  • Paprika
  • Carmine

Now, generally, if you care about your heath and you buy pre-packed or canned food from the grocery store, the rule is that you should buy something that has as few ingredients listed as possible.

As you can see from the quite exhaustive list above, fake crab surimi clearly isn’t made up of one or two ingredients. It’s made up of a sack full. Some of the ingredients we can’t even pronounce (which is usually a big red flag not to eat something), while there is also a lot of artificial flavouring in there.

Let’s take a closer look at 10 reasons to stop eating fake crab surimi right now – including a closer look at some of those ingredients – and instead make the switch to proper seafood:

It Isn’t Real Sea Food

Sea food comes with so many health benefits:

  • Seafood improves the health of your heart, most notable via omega-3 fatty acids, which you will find in oily fish such as salmon. Omega-3’s can reduce the risk of stroke, heart attacks, as well as heat disease.
  • Seafood promotes joint health, and can reduce symptoms associated with arthritis.
  • Seafood is good for your eyes. People who eat more seafood are less likely to suffer from macular degeneration, which is usually associated with ageing and a poor diet.
  • Seafood is good for your skin. If you care about your personal beauty, know that seafood keeps moisture locked in your skin, therefore giving you a healthy, youthful glow. Lovely!
  • Seafood increases brain power.

Seafood – such as cod, salmon, tuna and sardines – provide all the above benefits.

Fake crab surimi doesn’t. It doesn’t boost heart health, strengthen your joints, improve vision, slow down the ageing process, and it certainly doesn’t make you smarter!

Fake Crab Surimi Is Just So Cheap

Okay, you might be wondering how on earth this is a reason to stop eating fake crab sticks.

“If it’s so cheap and I’m shopping on a budget, surely it makes sense for me to buy MORE of these tasty, colourful sticks?”

If you’re shopping on a budget, just stop buying fake crab surimi. Consider an equally tasty and inexpensive but much healthier alternative instead, such as nuts, seeds or even berries.

Fake crab surimi is cheap for a reason – it’s highly processed garbage that was really cheap to make. It’s rubbish that can be sold for a very low price. It’s just cheap fish that has been made to taste and look better.

If you can afford it, we strongly recommend that you buy sushi from the store instead. It’s proper seafood that won’t wreak havoc with your digestive system.

Fake Crab Surimi Wreaks Havoc With Your Digestive System

Yeah, about that.

Fake crab surimi, as you’ll find out below, is loaded with ingredients that are just not conducive to a healthy digestive system.

There is a reason that, according to reports, 60% of adults will experience indigestion at some point during the year. The reason is their diet.

When we consume things our body’s are ill-equipped to deal with, we suffer digestive issues. These might be as mild as a bit of bloating and excess gas, or they could be as severe as full-on stomach cramps and hard stools.

Over time, a poor diet can cause debilitating conditions like Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Fake crab surimi is NOT natural, and is therefore not something you really should be putting into you body. If you do, you may end up with a digestive issue that ranges from mildly irritating to so severe that you’re not sleeping tonight!

It Just Doesn’t Have That Much Protein

You might be protesting that, since you saw the likes of salmon and lobster on the list of ingredients up there, fake crab surimi obviously does contain fish. And since fish contains protein, your sums may have led you to believe that fake crab sticks contain protein, too.

True – they do. But pound for pound, fake crab surimi has NO WHERE near as much protein as other sources such as tuna, cheese and chicken breast has.

If you’re eating fake crab surimi to get healthy or not stock up on some nutrients, you’re fresh out of luck we’re afraid. There are better alternatives.

Potassium Chloride

Potassium chloride is easy to pronounce (it almost rolls off the tongue), and potassium, of course, is an essential mineral that you’ll find in bananas.

But what’s up with potassium chloride?

A few things. Potassium chloride is actually an alternative to salt that, like salt, is pretty bad for your health. It can cause a lot of distress, including muscular weakness, cardiovascular issues, and even paralysis.

These problems only occur after large doses, but it’s still not really something you want in your body after eating sea food.

Fake Crab Surimi Is Rich In Sodium

One of the good things about fake crab surimi is that it’s low in fat. For this reason alone, you might eat it to help you lose weight. Cool.

However, it’s low fat content is offset by its high sodium content. And sodium is a well-known contributor to weight gain.

Just two fake crab sticks contain around 20% of your daily recommended amount of sodium.

Just TWO sticks!

Let’s say you chomp your way through ten sticks in one go. That’s a lot of sodium. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s way too much.

Diosdium inosinate

This one is trickier to pronounce. It’s a flavour enhancer that’s often paired up with mono-sodium glutamate, which sounds more like an exotic footballer than an ingredient in a crab stick!

People who are aware of mono-sodium glutamate generally don’t want it in their food. Manufacturers are aware of this and either don’t list it, or use a different variety of similar chemicals. Hmm.


Carmen is a Spanish name that means Garden.

Carmen is also a Spanish opera, written by the great Bizet in the 1870’s. To this day, it’s still perfumed all around the world and continues to move audiences and make them cry.

But carmine is not carmen – unfortunately. It’s something grosser.

If you think it’s great that fake crab surimi looks like crab on the outside (after all, it does look SO red), you probably think this is because it actually is crab. As such, it’s okay to eat it.

The real reason for that redness is carmine. And carmine doesn’t mean crab in Japanese, unfortunately. Instead, it refers to its rather more gross origins – crushed red beetles.

For real.

Okay, so Chinese and Japanese cuisine is not exactly anti-insect. You can stroll down any busy Chinese food market and find scorpions on sticks just waiting for you to buy them and eat ‘em.

But do you really expect crushed beetles in your crab sticks?

Moreover, did you really think the reason for the crab sticks brilliant red colours were crushed beetles?


And the thing about carmine is that its use isn’t limited to just food. It’s technically a dye, and you’ll find it in many popular lipsticks. Why do you think a lipstick is so red or pink? Because of carmine.

Maybe something to think about the next time you ask someone to pass you a fake crab stick.

Sodium Pryophosphate

This is where the ingredients start to get really tricky to pronounce.

Sodium pyrophosphate (you have no idea how long it took to just spell that). It’s such a scientific name that you have to wonder what the heck it’s doing in something as natural as seafood.

But this isn’t natural seafood, remember? This is fake seafood.

Sodium pyrophosphate (we copied and pasted this time), is a crystalline food additive which is an essential ingredient in fake crab sticks. It doesn’t mean them taste any better, nor does it make them glow like pink granite. Instead, it makes sure that the other ingredients don’t fall apart. It preserves them, and it also maintains the level of acidity.

Without Sodium pyrophosphate, your fake crab stick would not exist.

Good or bad thing?

According to a health food website, Sodium pyrophosphate can have this effect:

“Reports have shown that Sodium pyrophosphate is twice as toxic as table salt when ingested orally. It is a source of phosphorous as a nutrient. Because its production methods and side effects are relatively unknown, consumption should be avoided. Some individuals may experience stomach cramps and discomfort.”

Not that “discomfort” could mean anything, ranging from mild trapped gas and bloating to something like diarrhoea.

This means that if you suffer from trapped gas fairly frequently and also enjoy munching on fake crab sticks, there could be a link.

Other Agents

Fake crab sticks contain other ingredients that you wouldn’t knowingly sprinkle into your own meal. These include the totally unpronounceable carrageenan and sorbitol, both of which can cause inflammation (which can lead to heat disease), and gastric disorders, such as the nasty ulcerative colitis.

All in all, fake crab surimi is bad news. It has nothing of value to add to your life, and it isn’t even good for weight loss. If you absolutely must eat it because it’s cheap and tasty (it makes a fun party piece), at least get some nutrients by adding them to healthy salads and sandwiches, or buy them after looking at the list of ingredients.

Stay happy and healthy!

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