9 Amazing Health Benefits of Mackerel Fish (Bangada)

by John Staughton (BASc, BFA) last updated -

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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 diet, it is important to know where they come from and what health benefits and possible side effects they hold.

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. This makes mackerel one of the most common fish on the menu, particularly in North America. Ranging from 20 cm to 200 cm, these fish have varying physical characteristics, but they offer similar flavor and a relatively aligned nutrient profile.

Nutrition Facts

Fish, mackerel, salted
Serving Size :
Water [g]43
Energy [kcal]305
Energy [kJ]1276
Protein [g]18.5
Total lipid (fat) [g]25.1
Ash [g]13.4
Calcium, Ca [mg]66
Iron, Fe [mg]1.4
Magnesium, Mg [mg]60
Phosphorus, P [mg]254
Potassium, K [mg]520
Sodium, Na [mg]4450
Zinc, Zn [mg]1.1
Copper, Cu [mg]0.1
Selenium, Se [µg]73.4
Thiamin [mg]0.02
Riboflavin [mg]0.19
Niacin [mg]3.3
Vitamin B-6 [mg]0.41
Folate, total [µg]15
Folate, food [µg]15
Folate, DFE [µg]15
Choline, total [mg]101.6
Vitamin B-12 [µg]12
Vitamin A, RAE [µg]47
Retinol [µg]47
Vitamin A, IU [IU]157
Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) [mg]2.38
Vitamin D (D2 + D3), International Units [IU]1006
Vitamin D (D2 + D3) [µg]25.2
Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) [µg]25.2
Vitamin K (phylloquinone) [µg]7.8
Fatty acids, total saturated [g]7.15
12:0 [g]0.03
14:0 [g]1.08
16:0 [g]4.42
18:0 [g]1.4
Fatty acids, total monounsaturated [g]8.32
16:1 [g]1.5
18:1 [g]4.22
20:1 [g]1.03
22:1 [g]1.54
Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated [g]6.21
18:2 [g]0.37
18:3 [g]0.16
18:4 [g]0.4
20:4 [g]0.26
20:5 n-3 (EPA) [g]1.62
22:5 n-3 (DPA) [g]0.39
22:6 n-3 (DHA) [g]2.97
Cholesterol [mg]95
Sources include : USDA

Mackerel Fish Nutrition Facts

Mackerel species are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, as well as high levels of vitamin B12 (nearly 700% of your daily requirement). They contain minerals like 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.

2 fresh mackerels with salt, lemon, and spices on a grey background

Mackerel is a handsome but underrated fish. Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Health Benefits of Mackerel Fish

The health benefits of mackerel fish include improving hair health, protecting the skin, preventing age-related macular degeneration, strengthening the immune system, lowering cholesterol levels, preventing chronic disease, and boosting bone health, among others.

Skin Care

With ample amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, mackerel fish can take care of all your skincare needs. These substances act as antioxidants within the body, helping reduce oxidative stress and the effects of free radicals, which are the natural byproducts of cellular metabolism. They can also help reduce the appearance of wrinkles and age spots and relieve certain inflammatory conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.

Hair Care

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 improve the luster and look of your hair, while also strengthening the hair strands and reducing the effects of scalp conditions, such as dandruff.

Boost Immunity

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 diseases.

Reduces the Risk of Chronic Disease

The antioxidant effects of mackerel fish are well-studied, primarily due to the high level of selenium, which is more than 80% of your daily requirement per serving. Selenium functions as an antioxidant in the body, helping prevent cellular mutation and chronic disease by neutralizing free radicals before they can damage tissues, cells, and organs.

Improve Bone Mineral Density

There are many minerals in mackerel fish, including copper, selenium, magnesium, manganese, calcium, and iron, all of which are linked to bone density. By regularly consuming this fish, you can prevent the onset of osteoporosis, keeping you feeling youthful and strong as you age.

Improve Cognition

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 the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Weight Loss

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 stimulate metabolism. High-protein foods are also notoriously filling, which can help prevent overeating, keeping you within your calorie limitations for the day.

Control Diabetes

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 as per a study by The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. This is excellent news for diabetics and those at high risk of developing it, as it can keep your blood sugar levels in check.

Reduced Risk of Macular Degeneration

Research suggests that omega-3-rich fish like mackerel is the best food for your eyes. It prevents the damage done to the eyes because of diabetes, which often leads to diabetic retinopathy. Studies have also shown a connection between blindness and diabetes, as the two walk hand in hand.

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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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