Mackerel is the name for several species of cold-water, oily fish. These fish are gaining attention because of their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for cardiovascular health. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice per week. People with heart disease should consume about 1 g per day of omega-3 fatty acids, which are abundant in oily fish.
Fish provide protein, vitamins and minerals, and little saturated fat. They also are excellent sources of the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA. Oily fish such as mackerel, salmon, tuna and sardines contain the highest levels of EPA and DHA. The body cannot produce these substances but needs them in order to function properly, as noted by the AHA. Omega-3 fatty acids might reduce the risk of irregular heartbeat, or arrythmia, and they slow the growth of plaque in the arteries.
- Fish provide protein, vitamins and minerals, and little saturated fat.
- Omega-3 fatty acids might reduce the risk of irregular heartbeat, or arrythmia, and they slow the growth of plaque in the arteries.
Blood Pressure Effects
Are Canned Sardines Healthy?
Studies published in the journal Atherosclerosis in 1985 and 1986 evaluated the effects of mackerel in the diet on various cardiovascular health indicators. Men with mild high blood pressure ate canned mackerel every day in addition to a diet providing specific portions of protein, carbohydrates and fat. These men experienced significant decreases in blood pressure. After eating mackerel for eight months and then discontinuing the regimen, blood pressure returned to previous levels after two months.
- Studies published in the journal Atherosclerosis in 1985 and 1986 evaluated the effects of mackerel in the diet on various cardiovascular health indicators.
- Men with mild high blood pressure ate canned mackerel every day in addition to a diet providing specific portions of protein, carbohydrates and fat.
Cholesterol and Triglycerides
Singer and colleagues also found benefits of eating mackerel for cholesterol and triglyceride levels. In the 1985 article, for instance, participants experienced an average reduction in total cholesterol of 9 percent and in triglycerides of 28 percent. Levels of low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol, the so-called bad cholesterol, dropped by 14 percent. In contrast, high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol, the good cholesterol, increased by 12 percent.
- Singer and colleagues also found benefits of eating mackerel for cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- In contrast, high-density lipoprotein, or HDL, cholesterol, the good cholesterol, increased by 12 percent.
Atlantic Salmon & Gout
Most species of cooked mackerel provide 1.1 g to 1.7 g of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 oz. serving, reports an article in the May/June 2003 issue of Natural Health by associate food editor Cheryl Redmond. Select the smaller species of this fish. Atlantic, also called Boston, Pacific, also called Jack and Spanish mackerel have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids than king mackerel. In addition, mercury content can be a problem in large fish like the king mackerel.
- Most species of cooked mackerel provide 1.1 g to 1.7 g of omega-3 fatty acids per 3 oz.
- In addition, mercury content can be a problem in large fish like the king mackerel.
Fresh mackerel is available all year, and Redmond recommends cooking it as soon as you buy it by grilling or broiling. If you choose canned mackerel, you may find the flavor of this fish in 4 oz. cans with olive oil to be milder than the mackerel sold in 15 oz. cans.
- Fresh mackerel is available all year, and Redmond recommends cooking it as soon as you buy it by grilling or broiling.
Are Canned Sardines Healthy?
Atlantic Salmon & Gout
Cholesterol & Seafood
Nutrition of Seared Tuna Sashimi
Can You Eat Sardines Before You Go to Sleep?
Salmon Oil Vs. Cod Liver Oil
Foods to Avoid When Taking an MAOI
Protein Content of Canned Salmon
Omega 3 & Anchovies
- Natural Health: How to Shop for Heart-Healthy Fish
- American Heart Association: Frequently Asked Questions About Fish
- PubMed.gov: Blood Pressure- and Lipid-Lowering Effect of Mackerel and Herring Diet in Patients with Mild Essential Hypertension
- PubMed.gov: Long-Term Effect of Mackerel Diet
- Mackerel, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture. Published April 1, 2020.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Updated October 17, 2019
- Romotowska, P. E., Karlsdóttir, M. G., Gudjónsdóttir, M., Kristinsson, H. G., & Arason, S. Seasonal and geographical variation in chemical composition and lipid stability of Atlantic mackerel (Scomber scombrus) caught in Icelandic waters. Journal of Food Composition and Analysis. (2016) 49, 9–18. doi:10.1016/j.jfca.2016.03.005
- Vitamin D. Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. September 11, 2020
- Lu Z, Chen TC, Zhang A, et al. An evaluation of the vitamin D3 content in fish: Is the vitamin D content adequate to satisfy the dietary requirement for vitamin D?. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2007;103(3-5):642-644. doi:10.1016/j.jsbmb.2006.12.010
- Hosomi R, Yoshida M, Fukunaga K. Seafood consumption and components for health. Glob J Health Sci. 2012;4(3):72-86. Published 2012 Apr 28. doi:10.5539/gjhs.v4n3p72
- Sparkes C, Gibson R, Sinclair A, Else PL, Meyer BJ. Effect of low dose docosahexaenoic acid-rich fish oil on plasma lipids and lipoproteins in pre-menopausal women: A dose⁻response randomized placebo-controlled trial. Nutrients. 2018;10(10). 10.3390/nu10101460
- Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids. American Heart Association. Reviewed March 23, 2017
- Swanson D, Block R, Mousa SA. Omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA: health benefits throughout life. Adv Nutr. 2012;3(1):1-7. doi:10.3945/an.111.000893
- Kim DH, Grodstein F, Rosner B, et al. Seafood types and age-related cognitive decline in the Women's Health Study. J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2013;68(10):1255-1262. doi:10.1093/gerona/glt037
- Vuholm S, Rantanen JM, Teisen MN, et al. Effects of oily fish intake on cardiometabolic markers in healthy 8- to 9-y-old children: the FiSK Junior randomized trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2019;110(6):1296-1305.doi:10.1093/ajcn/nqz233
- Vitamin B12 or folate deficiency anaemia. National Health Service. Updated 2019.
- Avoiding Anemia. National Institutes of Health. News in Health. January 2014
- Telle-Hansen VH, Gaundal L, Myhrstad MCW. Polyunsaturated fatty acids and glycemic control in type 2 diabetes. Nutrients. 2019;11(5):1067. Published 2019 May 14. doi:10.3390/nu11051067
- Diabetes superfoods. American Diabetes Association. Updated 2020.
- Histamine toxicity. American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Updated 2020.
- ACOG practice advisory: Update on seafood consumption during pregnancy. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Updated 2017.
- Advice About Eating Fish. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Updated January 2017
- Selecting and serving fresh and frozen seafood safely. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Updated 2019.
Shelley Moore is a journalist and award-winning short-story writer. She specializes in writing about personal development, health, careers and personal finance. Moore has been published in "Family Circle" magazine and the "Milwaukee Sentinel" newspaper, along with numerous other national and regional magazines, daily and weekly newspapers and corporate publications. She has a Bachelor of Science in psychology.