11 Amazing Benefits of Carp

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Carp is one of the most delicious and common fish consumed in many parts of the world, and it has a number of great health benefits, including its ability to improve heart health, lower inflammation, protect respiratory health, optimize digestive function, slow the aging process and fend off chronic disease.

Carp Fish Nutrition

Carp are incredibly rich in minerals and vitamins, particularly phosphorous and vitamin B12, that the body needs to function properly, as well as high levels of beneficial fatty acids, protein, and antioxidants. This unique nutrient profile makes carp highly desirable for people looking for a better dietary protein. Not only is the fish highly symbolic and culturally respected in certain areas, but it is also praised as one of the healthiest fish for human consumption.

Now, before you head off to the nearest fish market to pick up some carp, take a closer look at some of the health benefits that it provides.

Two freshwater carps on a white plate with dill and lemon

Carp is a large oily freshwater fish found in Southern Africa. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Fish, carp, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]76.31
Energy [kcal]127
Energy [kJ]531
Protein [g]17.83
Total lipid (fat) [g]5.6
Ash [g]1.46
Calcium, Ca [mg]41
Iron, Fe [mg]1.24
Magnesium, Mg [mg]29
Phosphorus, P [mg]415
Potassium, K [mg]333
Sodium, Na [mg]49
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.48
Copper, Cu [mg]0.06
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.04
Selenium, Se [µg]12.6
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid [mg]1.6
Thiamin [mg]0.12
Riboflavin [mg]0.06
Niacin [mg]1.64
Pantothenic acid [mg]0.75
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.19
Folate, total [µg]15
Folate, food [µg]15
Folate, DFE [µg]15
Choline, total [mg]65
Vitamin B-12 [µg]1.53
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]9
Retinol [µg]9
Vitamin A, IU [IU]30
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]0.63
Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units [IU]988
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]24.7
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) [µg]24.7
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]0.1
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]1.08
14:0 [g]0.11
16:0 [g]0.66
18:0 [g]0.19
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]2.33
16:1 [g]0.66
18:1 [g]1.15
20:1 [g]0.07
22:1 [g]0.4
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]1.43
18:2 [g]0.52
18:3 [g]0.27
18:4 [g]0.06
20:4 [g]0.15
20:5 n-3 (EPA) [g]0.24
22:5 n-3 (DPA) [g]0.08
22:6 n-3 (DHA) [g]0.11
Cholesterol [mg]66
Tryptophan [g]0.2
Threonine [g]0.78
Isoleucine [g]0.82
Leucine [g]1.45
Lysine [g]1.64
Methionine [g]0.53
Cystine [g]0.19
Phenylalanine [g]0.7
Tyrosine [g]0.6
Valine [g]0.92
Arginine [g]1.07
Histidine [g]0.53
Alanine [g]1.08
Aspartic acid [g]1.83
Glutamic acid [g]2.66
Glycine [g]0.86
Proline [g]0.63
Serine [g]0.73
Sources include : USDA

Health Benefits of Carp

Improves Heart Health

With high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, like much other oily fish, carp are able to protect the heart in a variety of ways. By improving the balance of omega-3s to omega-6s, carp can help to reduce plaque buildup and lower the risk of atherosclerosis. This can also help to reduce blood pressure, eliminate strain on the cardiovascular system, and lower your chances of experiencing a heart attack or stroke.

Anti-inflammatory Effects

If you regularly suffer from joint pain, many doctors and nutritionists suggest increasing your weekly fish intake. The omega-3 fatty acids are not only good for your heart, but also for any inflammation that you may be experiencing in various parts of the body. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that affects millions of people, and the connections between “good” cholesterol and lowered occurrences of this disease are very encouraging. Links have also been made between the prevention of osteoarthritis and omega-3 intake.

Boosts Immunity

Zinc is a crucial mineral in our diet that many people overlook, and thus suffer from a deficiency. While the symptoms of zinc deficiency aren’t as obvious as iron or calcium, it can severely compromise your immune system. Zinc plays a key role in stimulating the immune system, and carp happens to be rich in zinc, with more than 10% of your daily intake in a single serving.

Protects Gastrointestinal Function

Inflammation of the gut and gastrointestinal system is very common, but it can lead to a number of terrible conditions, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. If you want to improve your digestive efficiency and reduce symptoms of bloating, constipation, hemorrhoids and general stomach upset, then adding carp to your diet may be a wise choice. Omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to reducing the risk of inflammatory bowel syndromes in numerous studies.

Managing Chronic Diseases

Many of the key vitamins and minerals found in carp have more than one function, even serving as antioxidants in some capacity. Vitamin A, for example, is a very powerful antioxidant in its alternate form of beta-carotene, and this can eliminate free radicals from negatively impacting your body. Free radicals can cause healthy cells to mutate, leading to chronic diseases. The antioxidant substances in carp help to reduce that risk.

Relieves Respiratory Distress

Research has shown that the rich concentration of minerals and nutrients in carp can work as a kick-starter for our respiratory health. If you’re suffering from bronchitis, chronic respiratory distress, or some other illness connected to your lungs and respiratory tracts, adding carp to your diet would be a good choice. Aside from reducing inflammation in the respiratory system, it can also speed healing to those damaged areas.

Strengthens Bones and Teeth

Phosphorous is found in extremely high concentrations in carp. In fact, a single serving of carp provides more than 50% of the daily recommended intake of this critical mineral. Phosphorous is very important in the development and retention of bone mineral density in the body, and it also functions as a component in our teeth. Phosphorous can help prevent conditions like osteoporosis, as well as weakened or damaged enamel.

Slows Aging

One of the best things about antioxidants it the effect that they can have on our physical appearance. For people who are beginning to “show their age” in age spots, blemishes, wrinkles, or skin that has lost its elasticity, antioxidants can stimulate the production of new, healthy cells and slow down the aging process. Carp contains a number of antioxidant substances, and fish is widely recognized as an excellent food to slow down or even reverse the aging process.

Aids in Sleep

Moderate magnesium levels in carp make it an important fish for those struggling to sleep. Magnesium triggers the release of certain neurotransmitters that calm the nervous system and can induce restful sleep. For people suffering from insomnia or consistently wake up throughout the course of the night, adding carp to one or two meals per week could solve your problems!

Optimizes Hormonal Levels

High levels of B vitamins mean that carp can help optimize the metabolism and balance various hormonal levels. The iodine content of carp is also helpful in balancing the function of the thyroid gland and other key hormonal centers in the body. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant nature of the fish can also help to ensure that our chemical processes are functioning normally.

Improves Vision

Beta-carotene, which is where vitamin A is derived from, is a powerful provitamin that functions as an antioxidant in the body. In particular, beta-carotene is linked to improving vision health and the strength of your retina. Studies have connected the consumption of carp and other oily fish to improved vision and less oxidative stress, preventing macular degeneration and general vision deficiency.

Stimulates Cognition

Omega-3s, antioxidants, zinc, and selenium have all been connected to cognitive effects in human beings. Essentially, these substances can help to stimulate new neural pathways and prevent oxidative stress in the capillaries and blood vessels of the brain. This leads to higher levels of concentration, focus, logical thinking, and memory, while also preventing the early onset of dementia.

Carp Fish

Carp is an extremely popular fish around the world, and belongs to the family Cyprinidae, and is an oily freshwater variety. While carp are native to Europe and Asia, they are exported to many other places, both for their great flavor and impressive nutritional benefits. There are a number of different types of carp, some of which can grow up to 50kg in weight and 150 cm in length! They are highly prized by fishermen due to their size and for being notoriously difficult to hook.

In some ecosystems, carp are considered invasive and threatening to many native species, which has increased the number of angling events that promote carp fishing. Carp are also farmed in certain parts of Asia and Europe for aquaculture and as a food source. In fact, carp domestication is reputed to have begun in China more than 2,000 years ago. When cooked properly, carp is very tender and flavorful, making it ideal for soups and other culinary dishes.

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About the Author

John Staughton is a traveling writer, editor, publisher and photographer with English and Integrative Biology degrees from the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana (USA). He co-founded the literary journal, Sheriff Nottingham, and now serves as the Content Director for Stain’d Arts, a non-profit based in Denver, Colorado. On a perpetual journey towards the idea of home, he uses words to educate, inspire, uplift and evolve.

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