Mackerel: Nutritional Health Benefits, Risks And Recipes

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oi-Neha Ghosh

The versatility, flavour and incredible nutritional value of mackerel fish are what makes it a favourite among fish lovers. Available in both fresh and canned form, mackerel fish is a common name given to a number of different species of pelagic fish belonging to the family Scombridae, which includes Atlantic mackerel, Indian mackerel, Spanish mackerel and chub mackerel [1].

Mackerel (Scomber scombrus) is a fatty fish and the fat and water content differ with season [2]. In India, mackerel is known as bangada in Hindi and is a widely consumed fish variety. Mackerel is a saltwater fish that’s packed full of protein, omega 3 fats and other essential nutrients.

Nutritional Value Of Mackerel

100 g of mackerel fish contain 65.73 g water, 189 kcal energy and it also contains:

  • 19.08 g protein
  • 11.91 g fat
  • 16 mg calcium
  • 1.48 mg iron
  • 60 mg magnesium
  • 187 mg phosphorus
  • 344 mg potassium
  • 89 mg sodium
  • 0.64 mg zinc
  • 0.08 mg copper
  • 41.6 µg selenium
  • 0.9 mg vitamin C
  • 0.155 mg thiamine
  • 0.348 mg riboflavin
  • 8.829 mg niacin
  • 0.376 mg vitamin B6
  • 1 µg folate
  • 65.6 mg choline
  • 7.29 µg vitamin B12
  • 40 µg vitamin A
  • 1.35 mg vitamin E
  • 13.8 µg vitamin D
  • 3.4 µg vitamin K

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Health Benefits Of Mackerel


1. Reduces blood pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension is a common health condition that affects many people worldwide. Mackerel fish has the potent ability to lower blood pressure, thanks to the polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) in it. A study published in the journal Atherosclerosis showed that 12 male individuals with mild hypertension who were given three cans of mackerel per week for eight months, resulted in a significant decrease in blood pressure levels [3] [4].


2. Improves heart health

Research studies have found that heart-healthy polyunsaturated fats can improve your heart health by lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease [5]. Consuming mackerel fish has been shown to increase HDL (good) cholesterol and lower triglycerides level and LDL (bad) cholesterol [6] [7].


3. Builds strong bones

Mackerel is a rich source of vitamin D and this vitamin has been shown to lower the risk of hip fracture. Consuming fish including mackerel at least once a week has been shown to reduce the risk of hip fracture by 33 per cent [8]. Additionally, mackerel fish is also a good source of calcium, an essential mineral that aids in strengthening the bones.

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4. Improves depression symptoms

Research studies have shown that lower intake of dietary omega 3 fats from fishes increases the symptoms of depression. Mackerel fish is a good source of omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which has been shown to improve depression symptoms. In addition, higher intake of PUFAs has been shown to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease [9] [10] [11] [12].


5. Improves cardiometabolic health in children

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that eight to nine years old children who consumed 300 g of oily fish per week for 12 weeks showed a significant improvement in triglyceride levels and HDL cholesterol levels with no negative effect on blood pressure levels, heart rate variability and glucose homeostasis [13].


7. May aid in weight loss

Omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have beneficial effects on obesity; it helps reduce body fat mass, stimulates lipid oxidation, regulates satiety and improves body weight [15].


8. May manage breast cancer risk

A lower intake of fish has been linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. Some research studies have shown that consuming fish rich in omega 3 fatty acids can help in the prevention and survival of breast cancer [16].


Possible Risks Of Mackerel Fish

If you are allergic to fish, you should avoid eating mackerel. Mackerel fish is also prone to causing histamine toxicity, a form of food poisoning that can cause nausea, headache and flushing of the face and body, diarrhoea and swelling of the face and tongue. Improperly refrigerated fish or spoilt fish is the most common cause of acute histamine toxicity, which causes an overgrowth of bacteria that increases the histamine content in fish [17].

Certain types of mackerel, like king mackerel, is high in mercury which should be avoided completely, especially by pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children [18]. Atlantic mackerel is low in mercury which makes it a good choice to eat [19].


How To Choose And Store Mackerel

Choose fresh mackerel fish that has firm flesh with clear eyes and a shiny body. Avoid choosing fish that emits a sour or fishy smell. After buying mackerel, keep it in the refrigerator and cook it within two days.


Mackerel Recipes

Avocado toast with smoked mackerel and lime


  • 2 slices bread
  • 1 smoked mackerel fillet
  • ½ avocado
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • ¼ lime


  • Toast the bread and keep aside.
  • Remove the skin and bones from the mackerel and break it into chunks.
  • Mash the avocado pulp and put it on the bread toast.
  • Add the mackerel and sprinkle spring onions over it.
  • Squeeze lime juice over it and sprinkle black pepper for taste [20].


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