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Mackerel is a fatty fish, therefore it is a good source of beneficial omega-3 acids and vitamin D. Additionally, mackerel contains a large amount of selenium. However, despite beneficial nutritional values, due to the tendency to accumulate mercury compounds, mackerel is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women.

Mackerelis a fish popular in Poland, it is often used as an addition to sandwiches, salads, spreads or as an ingredient in dinner dishes. Most often we buy smoked mackerel, less often in a can. It's harder to get fresh mackerel - and this one has the mostnutritional valueandhe alth properties . Mackerel lives in the waters from the North Sea all the way to the Mediterranean Sea. The meat of this fish is cream-colored with dark-colored muscle overgrowth. Mackerel is a fatty fish, rich in omega-3 unsaturated fatty acids, but it has a tendency to accumulate harmful methylmercury, therefore it is not recommended for pregnant and lactating women.

Mackerel as a source of protein

Mackerel is a source of wholesome protein (18.6 g / 100 g). It is worth replacing red meat and poultry with it. Mackerel contains exogenous amino acids (including leucine, isoleucine, lysine) that must be supplied to the body with food.

Mackerel and fatty acids

Mackerel is a fatty fish, it contains 14 g of fat in 100 g of meat. This fish contains a lot of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, which determines the he alth benefits of mackerel. Omega-3 fatty acids normalize the level of triglycerides in the blood, have a protective effect on the heart and blood vessels. By embedding themselves in red blood cells, they improve their elasticity, thus increasing the blood supply to the body. They also stimulate the production of nitric oxide, which has a vasodilating effect, which improves blood flow, contributing to the reduction of blood pressure.

Mackerel is rich in selenium and vitamin D

Mackerel is rich in minerals. The meat of this fish is especially valued due to its high selenium content. 100 g of it contains 44.1 µg of selenium, which covers 80% of the daily requirement of an adult for this element. Selenium improves the body's immunity and protects red blood cells against free radicals.

Moreovermackerel is a source of phosphorus and potassium, as well as vitamin D and vitamin A, which has a beneficial effect on the skin. Phosphorus and vitamin D have a beneficial effect on bones and teeth, so they should be consumed by children. Vitamin D is involved in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus in the body and bone mineralization. It facilitates the absorption of calcium and transport to the bones, thus contributing to their proper functioning, which is why it is especially important for women who have an increased risk of bone mass loss.

Additionally, vitamin D has an immunomodulatory effect. It quenches pro-inflammatory processes in the body, preventing the occurrence of chronic inflammations and autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or inflammatory bowel disease. Vitamin D also reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.

Nutritional value of fresh, smoked and canned mackerel (per 100 g of product)

fresh mackerelhot smoked mackerelcold smoked mackerelcanned mackerel
Energy value (kcal)205.0295242156.0
Protein (g)18.619.518,2
Fat (g)13,924,118.86,3
Saturated fat (g)3,264,93.81,86
Monounsaturated fatty acids (g)5,469.47,32,22
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (g)3.356,85,41.65
Including omega-3 (g)2.51 (DHA 1.4 g)6.3 (DHA 2.66 g)4.96 (DHA 2.0 g)1.32 (DHA 0.80 g)
Cholesterol (mg)
Potassium (mg)314.0 (7% of RDA for an adult)265 (6%)103 (2%)194.0 (4%)
Sodium (mg)90.0 (6%)807 (54%)2125 (142%)379.0 (25%)
Phosphorus (mg)217.0 (31%)226.0 (32%)161 (23%)301.0 (43%
Selenium (µg)44.1 (80%)35 (64%)28.0 (51%)37.7 (69%)
Magnesium (mg)76.0 (19%)28.0 (7%)19.0 (5%)37.0 (9%)
Vitamin B3 (niacin,mg)9.1 (57%)8.5 (53%)4.7 (29%)6.2 (39%)
Vitamin B6 (mg)0.4 (31%)0.28 (22%)0.28 (22%)0.2 (15%)
Vitamin B12 (µg)8.7 (363%)11.9 (496%)8.8 (367%)6.9 (288%)
Vitamin D3 (µg)16.1 (107%)4.5 (30%)4.0 (27%)7.3 (49%)
Vitamin A (µg)50.0 (6%)13.0 (1%)20 (2%)130.3 (14%)

Sources: USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference,, Nutrition Norms, IŻŻ Amendment, 2012

Fish - which are worth eating and avoiding

Mackerel not for pregnant and lactating women

Mackerel is one of the fish not recommended for pregnant and lactating women due to the high tendency to accumulate mercury compounds. 1 g of fresh weight of this fish contains 0.072 µg of methylmercury, which easily crosses the blood-placenta barrier and into breast milk. Methylmercury causes damage to the central nervous system by accumulating in the blood cells and brain of the fetus. There was a 30% higher content of methylmercury in the fetal blood cells compared to the maternal blood cells. Therefore, in 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended that mackerel be completely eliminated from the diet by pregnant and breastfeeding women.

Mackerel and histamine content

In addition to the nutrients valuable for he alth, mackerel also contains compounds that may be dangerous to your he alth. Histamine contained in mackerel may cause allergies, manifested by shortness of breath, nausea and edema. A particularly high level of histamine is found in smoked mackerel, as the smoking process significantly increases its concentration. For this reason, smoked mackerel is not recommended for people with histamine intolerance. In addition, mackerel is a source of purines which, if consumed in excess, can cause arthritis.

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Find out moreWorth knowing

Mackerel from European fisheries is not threatened with extinction. The size of the stock, despite numerous catches,maintains a stable level and does not degrade the marine environment. Therefore, buy mackerel sourced from this source without fear.

Fresh or smoked mackerel?

Mackerel is most often eaten smoked. However, this method of treatment is not indifferent to he alth. The smoking process produces compounds that are hazardous to the body: PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), which have carcinogenic properties. Additionally, smoked mackerel is not recommended for people with arterial hypertension due to its high sodium content. Moreover, during smoking, the fish loses B vitamins, which reduces its nutritional value.

In smoked mackerel, the content of omega-3 fatty acids is higher, however, it should be remembered that these amounts are given in terms of the weight of the finished product. 100 g of smoked mackerel was not prepared from 100 g of fresh mackerel, hence the much higher content of omega-3 acids. Additionally, the content of omega-3 fatty acids depends on the smoking technique - cold-smoked mackerel does not lose these acids.

Despite the potentially higher content of omega-3 acids in smoked mackerel, due to the significant addition of s alt and the dangerous compounds produced during smoking, it is better to choose fresh mackerel and prepare it baked in aluminum foil or steamed.

Canned mackerel

In stores you can also find canned mackerel - in tomato sauce, in oil, in its own sauce or salads with mackerel. The nutritional value will vary depending on the type of supplement. However, the nutritional value of the drained fish alone is comparable in all forms. Canned mackerel has a reduced nutritional value compared to fresh mackerel due to the treatment it is subjected to before preserving, mainly by heat. There is a loss of unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Canned mackerel is less caloric than fresh or smoked mackerel, it contains less fat, but at the same time practically half the valuable DHA acids (fresh mackerel vs canned mackerel: 1.4 g vs 0.8 g). A similar tendency is noticeable in the content of minerals, only canned fish contain more sodium and phosphorus compared to fresh fish.

There are also significantly less vitamins in canned mackerel - the content of vitamin D or vitamin B6 is reduced by about half compared to fresh mackerel. In addition, there is a risk that the substance used to protect the metal sheet against corrosion - bisphenol A, may penetrate into the fish. Research shows that bisphenol A is not indifferent tohe alth, may contribute to the development of obesity, cardiovascular diseases and miscarriages. Therefore, it is worth choosing fresh mackerel, and canned mackerel (similarly to other canned products) to include in your diet occasionally.

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Mackerel - culinary applications

Mackerel is a fish that works great as an addition to salads, sandwiches, spreads, but also as the main dinner dish. You can prepare pastes based on smoked mackerel with hard-boiled eggs, pickled cucumbers and onions, cottage cheese or natural tofu. The simplest version of the paste with the addition of tomatoes will also work. When preparing salads with smoked mackerel, you can also use various products - it goes perfectly with pepper, tomato, green cucumber, mixed salad and egg. An interesting combination is mackerel, egg, arugula and boiled beetroot. You can also prepare salads with smoked mackerel with rice or pasta.

Fresh mackerel is perfect as a main course, you can serve it in a garlic-lemon marinade, with sun-dried tomatoes or with stewed vegetables.

Recipe for mackerel baked in aluminum foil with marinade

  • fresh mackerel (1 piece)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • parsley

Prepare the marinade from garlic, olive oil and chopped parsley. From the fish, cut off the head, clean, wash, make cuts on both sides a few centimeters away, s alt inside and out. Place the fish on aluminum foil, rub the marinade on the outside and fill the cuts with it, wrap in foil and refrigerate for a few hours. Bake at 180 degrees C for 30 minutes. Sprinkle with lemon juice before serving. Serve with any type of groats or rice and salad.

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