What Is Mackerel?

is Mackerel good for you? Mackerel is a general name for swift-moving seawater fishes which belong to the Scombridae family. Mackerel are cloese relatives of tuna and Bonito, both of which also belong to the family Scombridae.

Most common features of “Mackerel” category are long, slender body with a deeply forked tail. Also, many of them have colored, luminous skin with distinct irregular stripes. Mackerels vary in size, ranging from the smaller bait fish to the bigger game fish. But compared to tuna, most of them are generally slimmer and smaller.

Mackerels are mostly found in temperate and tropical seas. They live either along the coast or offshore in the ocean. Since they appear all around the globe, many countries produce and trade them. Among them, their top producers and exporters are Denmark, the Netherlands, Japan, China, and Norway.

They travel in groups called schools. While many mackerel schools travel across oceans to find suitable spawning grounds, most remain within a specific geographic range.

These are some of the most popular names in the “mackerel” category:

  • Atlantic mackerel, Scomber scombrus
  • Chub mackerel, Scomber japonicus
  • Indian mackerel, Rastrelliger kanagurta
  • Blue mackerel, Scomber australasicus
  • Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus macula
  • Australian spotted mackerel, Scomberomorus munroi
  • Japanese Spanish mackerel, Scomberomorus niphonius
  • King mackerel, Scomberomorus cavalla

How Does Mackerel Taste?

Mackerel can start smelling after 24 hours of their capture. Mackerel is delicious when fresh and advisable to eat within 24 hours of capture.

Almost all kinds of mackerel have a rich, distinct flavor. Their flesh is moist, flaky, and soft. You can find many praising these fish for their slightly sweet and salty taste. But, since mackerel is an oily fish, some people also find its taste a little bit fishy and oily. You can order mackerel wholesale here

How Nutritious Is Mackerel?

They’re an excellent source of protein, vitamins B2, B3, B6, and B12, and vitamin D. Their flesh is also full of minerals like copper, selenium, and iodine. Some of these fishes also contain good amounts of iron and vitamin B1.

As mackerels belong to the “oily fish” category, they’re one of the best sources of omega-3s — good fats that keep your heart and brain healthy. A 3-ounce cooked portion of Atlantic or Pacific mackerel contains over 1,000 milligrams of omega-3s — much more than what you can find in most other seafoods.

Another nutritional benefit of mackerels is that they have significantly higher amounts of good unsaturated fats than saturated fats — fats that increase your bad cholesterol. In fact, about 77% of the fat in mackerel is unsaturated.

What Are the Health Benefits of Mackerel?

is mackerel good for you

There are many well-known health benefits of mackerel. As a rich source of vitamins, minerals, and good fats, these are some of the ways eating this fish could benefit you: 

May help in weight loss.

Mackerel has good amounts of healthy fats and proteins. Studies show that, compared to carbohydrates, fats and proteins are much more helpful in lowering your levels of ghrelin — the hunger hormone that increases your urge to eat. Moreover, as a high-protein food, mackerels can keep you feel full for a longer time. This may stop you from overeating and help you maintain your weight.

Many prevent brain disorders.

The omega-3s present in mackerel — particularly DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) — also play a big role in brain development. These fats control the release of chemical messengers in your brain, in turn helping to maintain brain function. Studies also show that consuming marine omega-3s — like those in mackerel — can reduce your risk of mental health issues like depression, bipolar disorder, and autism.

May strengthen bones.

There are many nutrients in mackerels that can help to keep your bones healthy. The most vital one is vitamin D. This vitamin helps in the metabolism of phosphorus and calcium — two minerals your bones need to grow. Getting enough vitamin D can lower your risk of bone loss and fracture. Besides this vitamin, mackerel also contains copper and selenium — minerals needed for maintaining your bone density.

May boost heart health.

American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fatty fish like mackerel per week. There’s a reason for that. Mackerels, being oily fish, have high amounts of omega-3s. These good fats are known to reduce blood pressure and decrease the levels of cholesterol in your body. Studies have shown that those who eat mackerel regularly have lower blood pressure and less cholesterol in their blood.

Having lower blood pressure means your heart doesn’t have to work too hard to pump blood. Similarly, less cholesterol leads to less fat buildup in the arteries of your heart. As a result, your heart will stay strong and face fewer problems. 

Precautions to Take Before Having Mackerel?

Make sure you’re eating a kind with low mercury content, like the North Atlantic mackerel. Avoid fishes like king mackerel and Spanish mackerel that have high levels of mercury and pose a risk of causing mercury poisoning. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), avoiding king mackerel is all the more important for young children, pregnant women, and nursing mothers.

Since histamines are resistant to heat, this illness might occur even if you eat properly canned or cooked fish. If you get scombroid fish poisoning, you could have symptoms like sweating, headache, nausea, vomiting,  rash, dizziness, and a burning or tingling sensation around the mouth. Your symptoms should resolve on their own within 12 hours. If that doesn’t happen, get medical help as soon as possible.

Before cooking mackerel, you need to follow the right steps to keep it fresh. Otherwise, you can get scombroid fish poisoning. This is a foodborne illness caused by eating fishes of the Scombridae family (like tuna and mackerel) that have been contaminated with high levels of histamine. This happens when these fishes spoil due to not being refrigerated properly, which causes bacteria to grow on them and produce excess histamine.

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