Eating fish is important for a balanced diet, and mackerel fish are some of the most widely available and healthiest fish around. However, before you add mackerel to your weekly diet, it is important to know where they come from and what potential health benefits they hold, as well as possible side effects.
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What is Mackerel Fish?
Mackerel fish is actually a general term that encompasses more than 30 species of fish, most of which belong to the Scombridae. In many parts of the world, mackerel fish are known as bangada. These fish are typically found near coastal areas, where they breed and feed, and their range includes both tropical and temperate regions. Mackerel fish are usually found in large schools, which makes them an easy target for commercial fishermen, making mackerel one of the most common fish on the menu, particularly in North America. Ranging from 20 cm to 200 cm, the varieties of mackerel fish have varying physical characteristics, but they offer similar flavor and a relatively aligned nutrient profile.
Most notably, mackerel species are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as huge levels of vitamin B12 (nearly 700% of your daily requirement), selenium, copper, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron. There are also smaller amounts of vitamin A, potassium, zinc and sodium. Along with 230 calories per filet – an average of 100 grams – there are also 21 grams of protein, representing roughly 40% of your daily required intake.
Due to this impressive nutrient profile, and the different ways to prepare mackerel, it remains one of the most popular and readily consumed fish in the world.
Health Benefits of Mackerel Fish
The health benefits of mackerel fish include improving hair health, protecting the skin, strengthening the immune system, lowering cholesterol levels, preventing chronic disease and boosting bone health, among others.
With ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, mackerel fish can take care of all your skin care needs. These substances both act as antioxidants within the body, helping to reduce oxidative stress and the effects of free radicals, which are the natural byproducts of cellular metabolism. They can also help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots and relieve certain inflammatory conditions, such as psoriasis and eczema.
There are many nutrients that are critical to hair care, such as protein, iron, zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which are found in mackerel fish. A regular dose of these nutrients in your diet will help to improve the luster and look of your hair, while also strengthening the hair strands and reducing the effects of scalp conditions, such as dandruff.
Despite having a low level of vitamin C, mackerel fish are still praised for their effects on the immune system. Coenzyme Q10 is one of the unique elements in mackerel fish that is closely associated with preventing infections and strengthening the body’s defense against oxidative stress. Omega-3 fatty acids are also known to reduce inflammation, which can put unnecessary strain on the immune system.
Lower Cholesterol Levels
With an impressive level of omega-3 fatty acids, mackerel fish is known to improve cholesterol balance in the body by lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol levels. This will reduce the amount of cholesterol that is oxidized and deposited in the arteries as plaque, so this fish is known to lower your risk of atherosclerosis, heart attack, stroke and coronary heart disease.
Treat Chronic Disease
The antioxidant effects of mackerel fish are well studied, primarily due to the huge level of selenium – more than 80% of your daily requirement per serving. Selenium functions as an antioxidant in the body, helping to prevent cellular mutation and chronic disease by neutralizing free radicals before they can damage tissues, cells, and organ systems.
Improve Bone Mineral Density
There are varying levels of many minerals in mackerel fish, including copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and iron, all of which are linked in some way to bone density. By regularly consuming this fish variety, you can prevent the onset of osteoporosis, keeping you feeling youthful and strong as you age.
The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids found in mackerel, particularly DHA, mean an improved cognitive function and a lower risk of neurodegenerative disease. The anti-inflammatory properties of these compounds will reduce the plaque buildup that often precedes symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Although mackerel fish do possess a high level of calories – nearly 250 per filet – they also provide a huge amount of protein, which can help to stimulate the metabolism. High-protein foods are also notoriously filling, which can help prevent overeating, keeping you within your calorie limitations for the day.
Monounsaturated fatty acids, like those present in mackerel, have been linked in research to more regulation of blood sugar and insulin resistance in the body. This is an excellent news for diabetics and those at high risk of diabetes, as it can keep your glucose levels in check, in addition to the many other health benefits of this fish.