top of page

Holy Mackerel: The Delicious, Inexpensive, Healthy Fish

Mackerel is a saltwater fish in the same family (scombridae) as tuna. Mackerel's flesh is slightly dark pink hue. The fish's back has blue-black-green tiger-striped scales and it's belly is disco-shimmering silver. And for such a beauty, it tends runs pretty cheap. The Atlantic (or Boston) mackerel is the most common variety. The King and Spanish mackerel are other very common varieties.

Mackerel is a fast-replenishing fish; it takes only 2—4 years for it to reach breeding maturity. They’re mostly wild-caught using nets dropped at large population locations in the world's oceans. Environmental Defense Fund ranks mackerel as one of the best sources of seafood as its catching method doesn’t impact the ocean bottom.

Mackerel is in season throughout the whole year. Mackerel from Newfoundland is in season from August and into November; along Nova Scotia, they’re in season from May through July. In the US, Spanish mackerel from the Chesapeake Bay thrive in the warm water during the summer. Their season is June through October.

Some fishes are certainly more strongly flavored than others. Mackerel is one of the strong flavored fishes.

Meatier fishes such as mackerel tend to be more oily and fatty, which equals more/stronger flavor. Flaky, white-fleshed fish is generally the mildest. This chart here lists a few varieties of mildly flavored fish.

Mackerel takes to stuffing and grilling incredibly well, like branzino, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can grill the whole fish. Indoors, use a broiler to crisp up the skin or do a quick sear on both sides using a hot cast iron pan.

A more oily fish also benefit from your own genius cooking ideas, like adding a squeeze of lime or topping everything off with an acidic gremolata, a nutty escabeche, or a lemony tahini.

We recommend eating at least one serving of fish (particularly fatty fish) per week.

A serving is 3 ounces cooked, or about ¾ cup of flaked fish. Fatty fish like anchovies, herring, mackerel, black cod, salmon, sardines, bluefin tuna, whitefish, striped bass and cobia are high in omega-3 fatty acids.

As an oily fish, mackerel loaded with Omega-3. Out of both fresh and saltwater fish, it’s got one of the highest concentration in Omega-3 acids, which lowers your blood pressure and raises your good cholesterol. In short, this oily fish is one of the healthiest seafood options available.

Mackerel offers a substantial amount of omega-3. Just one fillet provides 2991 mg of the fatty acids. Per 100 grams, this equates to 2670 mg of omega-3. Notably, this is more omega-3 than the majority of other oily fish provide, and mackerel is a very affordable fish too.

Oily fish have long been key members of the superfood group. While salmon, tuna, and sardines are all good sources of omega-3's essential fatty acids, while often have higher trace levels of mercury than mackerel. Research shows that wild caught mackerel provides lower levels of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) and other harmful additives that are linked to cancer.

Farm-raised fish products are generally treated with antibiotics and other additives which increase the harmful elements digested by your body. When shopping for mackerel consider buying wild caught fish that's fresh or frozen. Frozen mackerel is as nutritionally beneficial as the fresh.

How to shop for fresh mackerel (or for any kind of fish) like a genius?

You don’t like the fishy taste, you say? The fishy flavor comes from a fish that's not straight out of the water. The fresher the fish is, the more you get of that ocean taste. The longer a fish sits out, the fishier it’s going to taste. Fishy smelling fish is a sign of bad fish.

Most folks who say they don't like fish have had experiences with old fish. First things first: Fish must be fresh (or frozen at sea) to be good. When shopping for fish at a supermarket, be interested and ask the person behind the counter what's just in, and what's fresh. If the fish is frozen at sea, ask if you can get some from the freezer instead of the stock in the case that's been thawed and sitting all day.

Check out the skin of the fish. Is it brown and slightly dried-out? Has the speckling on the fish’s skin faded? These are both signs of a less-than-fresh fish. Here are a few pretty good tips for any kind of fish: Look for ...

  • a blue tint to the skin, which should be tight, not wrinkly.

  • lively protruding eyes,

  • rosy-red gills, and

  • resilient-textured flesh.

In our experience Wild Planet sells the best canned mackerel we can highly recommend.

Get Your Skin to Glow with Mackerel

There is no need to spend hundreds of dollars on expensive skin creams to delay the ravages of time. Instead, take an inventory of your nutrition and discover whether or not you consume enough essential fats in your diet. Essential fats or omega-3's can't be created by your body, but oily fish like salmon and mackerel are rich in these omega-3's, fatty acids, and selenium. Two types of omega-3's are only found in oily fish, DHA (docosahexaenoic) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic). DHA and EPA are responsible for maintaining the health of your body's cell membranes and affect their performance. The essential fats aid in the production and management of hormones.

Weight Loss by Eating Mackerel

You know mackerel are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, but they are also a great source of iron, zinc, and protein. Protein is responsible for maintaining the health of your cellular structures, muscles, enzymes, and even your immune system. Many animal-based foods are high in fat and calories making it difficult to cut calories while ensuring you ingest your recommended daily allowance. Mackerel are exceptional as a protein source. A 100-gram serving has 305 calories and has 25 fat grams.

Balance Electrolytes

Have you ever felt light-headed after a workout? Or had your heartbeat beat out of its normal rhythm when you've had the flu? Perhaps, this is due to a low level of electrolytes in your body. Electrolytes like magnesium, sodium, calcium, and potassium manage all the electrical systems which are responsible for regulating your blood's pH levels, hydrating your body, and maintain your muscle and nerve health. Wonky electrolyte levels can cause twitching, blood pressure swings, lethargy and irregular heartbeat. It's imperative to be aware of your electrolyte levels and stay hydrated with plenty vitamins and minerals. Mackerel helps proportion electrolytes with a 400-gram dose of magnesium which works to maintain this important balance.

Mackerel Boosts Immunity

Did you know a low level of the essential mineral selenium can leave you susceptible to many diseases, inflammation, and infection? Selenium is responsible for battling viruses in your body. Also, this mighty mineral maintains healthy thyroid functions, makes thyroid hormones, and may prevent different strains of cancer with its antioxidant prowess. Populations with statistically low selenium levels have demonstrated higher levels of male infertility, swollen glands, thyroid cancer, allergies, autoimmune diseases, and several forms of liver disease. Selenium protects your cells and keeps viruses and cancers from replicating. Selenium induces a process called apoptosis which kills tumors. Mackerel has 55 micrograms of this essential mineral per serving and can help you detoxify your liver.

Balance Your Cholesterol Levels

High cholesterol levels affect more than thirty percent of the adult population in the United States. High cholesterol is a serious precursor to heart disease. Cholesterol is the fatty element in cells which produce hormones and aid in digestion. It is carried by the blood on low-density and high-density lipoproteins where the liver filters out the bad cholesterol from the beneficial. Build-ups of cholesterol can lead to clogged arteries. Then the high-density cholesterol won't make it to your liver. Mackerel is a treasure trove of omega-3 essential fats. Oily fish help balances LDL levels by maintaining healthy cholesterol levels. Reductions in LDL levels helps cholesterol from being absorbed in your intestines. Mackerel can also help lower and maintain healthy blood pressure.

Fight Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a painful condition that causes swelling and inflammation of multiple sites of your body. Arthritis is characterized by the immune system betraying the body through attacking your tissue causing painful swelling which can lead to bone erosion. Two essential fats help stop inflammation at the cellular level, both eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are omega-3's that fight inflammation with immune cells called leukocytes and enzymes known as cytokines. Research has shown that people with diets high in EPA and DHA are less likely to suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.

Fight Fatigue with Mackerel

Cobalamin or vitamin B12 is considered to be the energy vitamin. Vitamin B12 has a lot of important responsibilities to help your body function properly. Cobalamin is vital to the creation of red blood cells and DNA. If you feel tired or light-headed all the time, you might have low B12 levels. If you leave a B12 deficiency unchecked, it can progress into depression and numbness. Amazingly, in one small serving of mackerel, you will receive over 100 percent of your daily recommended dosage of vitamin B12.

Mackerel Completes You

Free radicals are nasty little byproducts of your body's energy building process and through filtering environmental toxins. They are incomplete structures with missing electrons which attack healthy molecules in an attempt to complete themselves. Free radicals end up making molecules brittle through oxidation and damage molecules causing aging and disease. Antioxidants are great because they donate electrons to the free radical molecules preventing damage to your body's cells. Mackerel is rich in coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) which is one of the most powerful antioxidants in the natural world. One serving of mackerel provides you with a substantial amount of your daily recommended allowance for CoQ10 (30-200 milligrams for adults).

May help Decrease Appetite

Mackerel is certainly a wonderful source of important vitamins and minerals, but it also an excellent source of protein. Your body can't make protein and can't store it, that is why it is crucial to your nutrition to consume enough protein. Mackerel is rich in omega-3's which has been demonstrated to help reduce fat cells at a cellular level. A diet that balances protein while maintaining high levels of both vitamin B12 and CoQ10 may help dampen your likelihood to snack or overeat. Regular, moderated indulgences of mackerel can also give your metabolism a boost.

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page