7 Incredible Health Benefits of Monkfish

by Ishani Bose last updated -

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Don’t judge a book by its cover, goes a famous saying. If one were to see a monkfish, that adage would definitely strike home. Monkfish is far from what one may describe as pretty. With a toad-like face, a head that comprises most of its body and razor-sharp teeth, it may look somewhat unappetizing.  However, once caught, properly cleaned and cooked, it tastes divine. It is also one of the most nutritious fishes you’ll come across. So let’s take a look at the fish in detail.

What is Monkfish?

Monkfish is a member of the scientific genus Lophius, and its original name is, Lophius Americanus/Piscatorious. It is mostly found all over the world, however, its predominant harvesting place remains the North Atlantic Ocean, covering the coastal areas of Norway to the Mediterranean region and then again from the Great Banks to North Carolina. It is also known as anglerfish, goosefish, bellyfish, depending on the region it is found in. While the British call it Monkfish, the French know it as Baudroie d’Amérique, the Spanish as Rape, the Germans as Angler, the Italians as Rana pescatrice and the Japanese as Anka.

An ugly appearance notwithstanding, monkfish is considered to be quite a delicacy. Given that it has got quite a mild and sweetish taste, many liken it to lobsters. The fish’s meat is dense, boneless, and firm. In fact, it is known as the poor man’s lobster. Typically, people consume the flesh from its tail as it tends to be melt-in-the-mouth good. In some places, even the liver is considered to be a delicacy. It is quite versatile and can easily blend with different sauces and gravies. You can make delicious monkfish recipes by adding it to soups, salads, pasta, curries and the like.

Nutritional Value of Monkfish

Monkfish is not only a delicious sea monster but also a powerhouse of nutrients. As per the USDA National Nutrient Database, monkfish contains calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, zinc, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin-B6, folate, vitamin-B12, vitamin A, vitamin E, and vitamin K.

Monkfish placed on a bed of fishes

Health Benefits of Monkfish

Monkfish is a low-fat and low-calorie fish and is considered to be one of the tastiest and healthiest of fishes, contrary to popular belief. It is packed with minerals, vitamins and good fats- all of which are necessary to maintain good health. The health benefits of the fish include lowering the risk of cardiovascular diseases, maintaining good bone health, boosting immunity, strengthening muscles, improving cognitive functions and gut health as well as skin and hair. Let’s take a look at the health benefits in great detail.

Reduces the Risk of Heart Diseases

Monkfish, like other fishes, is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study published in the Tanaffos Journal, omega-3 fatty acids help lower bad cholesterol and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Furthermore, they may also help in lowering the risk of abnormal heartbeats (arrhythmias), which, in most cases, turn out to be fatal.

Boosts Immunity

Vitamins are important constituents of our diet that have a major impact on the immune system. According to researchers from the Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA, vitamin A has a significant effect on one’s immune response. Monkfish contains this vital vitamin that not only boosts one’s immunity but also reduces any kind of inflammation in the body, thereby potentially lowering the risk of any kind of chronic disease.

Maintains Good Bone Health

Monkfish contains calcium and phosphorous, both of which are very important in maintaining good bone health. According to a report published in the American Journal of Medicine, a severe deficiency of calcium and phosphorous in the body can result in osteoporosis and other bone-related issues such as osteomalacia. Thus, including the fish in your diet may ensure a relatively fast rate of bone formation, whilst keeping them healthy and strong.

Strengthens the Muscles

Physical activity and diet have a bearing on the skeletal muscles of the body that are subjected to wear and tear over the years. According to a study published in the Marine Drugs Journal, omega-3 fatty acids can influence the exercise and nutritional response of skeletal muscles, preventing any kind of aging-associated declines in muscle mass and function. Monkfish is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which together help in the contraction, coordination, and the growth of the muscles in the body.

Improves Cognitive Functions

Cognitive decline is an age-related risk. A study published in the Aging Health Journal states that vitamin E is an antioxidant that has the potential to cross the blood-brain barrier and positively impact the cell membranes. Monkfish is rich in Vitamin E, which according to research has been used in attempting to treat and prevent Alzheimer’s. Having said that, additional research is still needed to identify the holistic role of Vitamin E in the management of cognitive impairment.

Supports Digestion

The omega-3 fatty acids present in the fish facilitate digestion. A 2017 study conducted by Dr. Ana Valdes, an associate professor, at the University of Nottingham, UK states that omega 3 fatty acids can positively impact gut biodiversity. A gut with diverse and rich bacteria plays an instrumental role in maintaining a healthy body.

Protects Healthy Hair and Skin

Monkfish contains riboflavin (vitamin B2), which plays a major role in maintaining collagen levels – an essential component that maintains healthy skin and hair. In order to protect youthful skin and prevent wrinkles, collagen is needed. A deficiency of riboflavin can make one age quickly. Given that riboflavin can reduce any kind of skin inflammations, hair fall and naturally slow other signs of aging, having monkfish as part of your diet can be quite beneficial.

Word of Caution: While the aforementioned points are enough to tell you why consuming monkfish is beneficial to health, it would be advisable to consume it in moderation, and in some cases even consult a nutritionist. According to the American Heart Association, the benefits and risks of eating any fish depend on a person’s phase of life.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has advised children and pregnant women to avoid consuming those fish, which have a high level of mercury contamination. Fishes that have a high level of contaminants are generally the larger, older, predatory fish, and other marine mammals. That is why, it is advisable to ensure that the fish is properly cleaned, and sometimes tested before consumption. Moreover, the American Heart Association recommends eating fish, especially the fatty ones, two times (two servings) a week. So as long as we adhere to this, consuming monkfish or any other fish won’t be detrimental to health.

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About the Author

An alumnus of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, Ishani is a journalist-turned-content writer, with an avid interest in politics, history, fashion, food, health, arts, and culture. She is a food fanatic, who loves to try out interesting and healthy recipes in her free time. When she isn’t writing or cooking, you’ll find her Instagramming (more often than she’d like), wasting time on an assortment of things such as shopping, netflixing, and chasing her up-to-no-good pet cat throughout the house.

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