Health Benefits of Herring

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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Herring is a delicious oily fish with a long history in many cultures around the world as a dietary staple. This fish also serves many amazing health benefits which include improving the heart health.

What is Herring?

Herring is a general term for various foraging fish from the family Clupeidae who are commonly found in the northern regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. They are often found near the northern coasts in large schools, as well as along the South American coast. The three most common types of this fish include the Atlantic, Pacific, and Araucanian varieties, but there are also a few dozen other species that are frequently referred to as herring. When it comes to taste, these fish are very salty and oily and are typically salted, drained, and then mixed with a sweet-and-sour solution in a can. While they physically resemble silver sardines and belong to the same taxonomic family, they are not the same fish and have some key differences. They are generally considered healthy when consumed in moderation.

Fish on a tray with onions and herbs

Herring Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Nutrition Facts

Fish, herring, Pacific, raw
Serving Size :
Water [g]71.52
Energy [kcal]195
Energy [kJ]816
Protein [g]16.39
Total lipid (fat) [g]13.88
Ash [g]2.37
Calcium, Ca [mg]83
Iron, Fe [mg]1.12
Magnesium, Mg [mg]32
Phosphorus, P [mg]228
Potassium, K [mg]423
Sodium, Na [mg]74
Zinc, Zn [mg]0.53
Copper, Cu [mg]0.08
Manganese, Mn [mg]0.05
Selenium, Se [µg]36.5
Thiamin [mg]0.06
Riboflavin [mg]0.2
Niacin [mg]2.2
Pantothenic acid [mg]1
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.45
Folate, total [µg]5
Folate, food [µg]5
Folate, DFE [µg]5
Vitamin B-12 [µg]10
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]32
Retinol [µg]32
Vitamin A, IU [IU]106
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]3.26
14:0 [g]0.91
16:0 [g]2.02
18:0 [g]0.26
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]6.87
16:1 [g]1.06
18:1 [g]2.91
20:1 [g]1.36
22:1 [g]1.49
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]2.42
18:2 [g]0.19
18:3 [g]0.06
18:4 [g]0.25
20:4 [g]0.1
20:5 n-3 (EPA) [g]0.97
22:5 n-3 (DPA) [g]0.17
22:6 n-3 (DHA) [g]0.69
Cholesterol [mg]77
Tryptophan [g]0.18
Threonine [g]0.72
Isoleucine [g]0.76
Leucine [g]1.33
Lysine [g]1.51
Methionine [g]0.49
Cystine [g]0.18
Phenylalanine [g]0.64
Tyrosine [g]0.55
Valine [g]0.85
Arginine [g]0.98
Histidine [g]0.48
Alanine [g]0.99
Aspartic acid [g]1.68
Glutamic acid [g]2.45
Glycine [g]0.79
Proline [g]0.58
Serine [g]0.67
Sources include : USDA


In terms of nutrition, a 3-ounce serving delivers approximately 135 calories, 15 grams of protein, and 8 grams of fat, but only 20% of that is of the saturated variety. These fish are also high in selenium, omega 3 fatty acids, B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, calcium, and potassium.

Health Benefits

The many health benefits of herring include the following:

  • Improve heart health
  • Balance cholesterol levels
  • Reduce arthritis symptoms
  • Boost eye health
  • Aid skin appearance
  • Stimulate brain function
  • Lower risk of metabolic syndrome
  • Promote red blood cell production
  • Strengthen bones
  • Promote clear vessels
  • Optimize nerve function
  • Improve lung function
  • Treat inflammation
  • Increase omega-3 fatty acid intake

Herring vs Sardines

While herrings and sardines are often mistaken for one another, there are some clear differences between the two.

  • Origin: Herring and sardines both belong to the Clupeidae family.
  • Calcium: Sardines have a very high calcium content, while herring have roughly one-quarter of this important mineral.
  • Calories: Sardines are also lower in calories, which may be important for those watching their weight.
  • Omega 3’s: The two fish have similar levels of omega-3 fatty acids.
  • Vitamin B-12: Sardines have higher vitamin B-12 levels, but lower sodium levels than herring.

Side Effects

The common side effects of eating this oily fish include problems with pregnancy, due to the high concentrations of certain nutrients and fats, as well as high levels of sodium. Allergic reactions may also occur in some people who are sensitive to these types of oily fish. Always consume in moderation, due to the high sodium and fat content. Protection Status
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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