Mackerel is a name used for various species of fish found mostly in the Scombridae family. Of the different types, the more commonly known mackerel are Cero, Atlantic, King and Spanish mackerel. Mackerels are known for their slim shape, numerous finlets and oily meat. The oily meat found on mackerel is where its main health benefits derive from. This fish oil, which is also known as omega-3 fatty acid, has shown to be so beneficial, it is made into a supplement.
Here's a detailed list of the numerous health benefits of mackerel:
- Lowering triglycerides: High levels of triglycerides in the body have been linked to heart disease and stroke. The most common causes for a high triglyceride level are obesity and poorly maintained diabetes, mainly stemmed from an inactive lifestyle and a poor diet that includes a high intake of sugary foods, carbohydrates and alcohol. Fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids, like mackerel, have been proven to be very effective in lowering triglyceride levels.
- Heart disease: Mackerel has been shown to be effective for, not only reducing the risk of heart disease, but also a deterrent for dying from heart disease due to its omega-3 fatty acids. Some researchers have found that omega-3 fatty acid is even more effective at reducing heart attacks than some commonly prescribed drugs used for lowering cholesterol.
- Cholesterol: Bad cholesterol particles, also known as low-density lipoprotein (LDL), are lowered by the fish oil found in mackerel, while good cholesterol particles, known as high-density lipoproteins (HDL), are increased by the fish oil found in mackerel. The fact that mackerel can help lower cholesterol levels by keeping cholesterol from being absorbed in the intestine, also allows it to help lower blood pressure.
- Good for the blood: Mackerel and other fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids are good for the blood. They help with blood circulation and lower blood pressure by allowing blood vessels to expand and be more elastic.
- Arthritis: Oily fish, like mackerel, have been known to reduce the pain, stiffness and swollen joints associated with arthritis. This makes mackerel a good supplement for pain medications.
- Cancer: Mackerel can help you fight and prevent cancer by reducing the amount of agents that cause cancer in your cells, primarily in the breast, colon and prostate areas.
- Weight loss: There are several different ways that mackerel can help with weight loss. Studies have shown that a regular intake of fish oil from mackerel or supplements, combined with exercise, can significantly decrease body fat. Mackerel also helps regulate the body's metabolism, and it can help decrease blood sugar in overweight people.
- Mental health: Several studies have found a correlation between fish oil and a reduced risk of depression, suicide, schizophrenia and Alzheimer's disease. Some cases even displayed an increase in brain activity and enhanced memory.
- Immune system: Mackerel can help strengthen the immune system and improve overall body functions due to the amount of vitamins and nutrients it contains.
More Health Benefits
Aside from the numerous health benefits associated with the omega-3 fatty acid found in mackerel, this particular fish can also be eaten for a significant source of nutrients. Here is a list of even more reasons why you should eat mackerel:
- Protein: Mackerel is rich in protein, with a serving size of three ounces containing approximately 21 grams. Protein is a necessary component of muscle building and repair, and since it's not stored anywhere in the body, it needs to be replenished regularly making mackerel an excellent choice for meals.
- Nutrients: An abundance of nutrients can be found in mackerel, which include calcium, potassium, selenium and magnesium. These nutrients help maintain proper function of the body and are important for the heart, bones and teeth, nerves and muscles, and proper metabolic function.
- Vitamins: Mackerel is a good source for vitamins like niacin (vitamin B3), choline, folate, vitamin E, vitamin D, vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C and vitamin B12. All of these vitamins contain numerous health benefits and help with proper body function as well.
Buying and Cooking Tips
Here are some useful tips for adding mackerel to your diet:
- Fresh mackerel should not have a strong odor, with eyes that are bright and clear, moist skin and shiny scales.
- Look for mackerel filets or steaks with the softest, most translucent meat.
- Marinate mackerel with a vinegar or citrus based sauce to get a strong taste.
- Mackerel can be baked, broiled, grilled or pan fried. Brush, baste or fry it with butter for a tastier dish.
While mackerel may be a healthier alternative to fatty meats, they also pose a health risk to pregnant women due to their high methyl mercury content. If consumed frequently, mackerel can have an adverse effect on the development of a child's nervous system, while posing a significant health risk to the expectant mother as well. Pregnant women should be especially weary of king mackerel due to its high mercury content.