Mackerel as food

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Atlantic mackerel on ice in a fish shop.
Smoked mackerel
Raw Atlantic mackerel
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy858 kJ (205 kcal)
13.89 g
18.60 g
VitaminsQuantity %DV
Vitamin A167 IU
Vitamin D
643 IU
MineralsQuantity %DV
12 mg
1.63 mg
76 mg
217 mg
314 mg
90 mg
0.63 mg
Other constituentsQuantity
Water63.55 g
Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Mackerel is an important food fish that is consumed worldwide.[1] As an oily fish, it is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids.[2] The flesh of mackerel spoils quickly, especially in the tropics, and can cause scombroid food poisoning. Accordingly, it should be eaten on the day of capture, unless properly refrigerated or cured.[3]

Mackerel preservation is not simple. Before the 19th-century development of canning and the widespread availability of refrigeration, salting and smoking were the principal preservation methods available.[4] Historically in England, this fish was not preserved, but was consumed only in its fresh form. However, spoilage was common, leading the authors of The Cambridge Economic History of Europe to remark: "There are more references to stinking mackerel in English literature than to any other fish!"[5] In France mackerel was traditionally pickled with large amounts of salt, which allowed it to be sold widely across the country.[5]

In Japan mackerel is commonly cured with salt and vinegar to make a type of sushi known as saba-zushi. Historically saba-zushi originated in Kyoto as a solution for transporting mackerel to the inland city, which otherwise would not have made the journey from the coast still fresh. [6]The road linking between Obama bay and Kyoto is now also called as “mackerel road (saba-kaido)”

There is a large variation in the mercury levels found in mackerel. These levels differ markedly for different species, and even for the same species in different locations; however, the strongest positive correlation seems to be connected to the species' size (the larger species being higher on the food chain).[7] According to the United States Food and Drug Administration, king mackerel is one of four fishes, along with swordfish, shark, and tilefish, that children and pregnant women should avoid due to high levels of methylmercury found in these fish and the consequent risk of mercury poisoning.[8][9]

  More images                                
Rye bread with smoked "pepper mackerel", Denmark
Grilled mackerel with dill butter, Sweden
Roasted horse-mackerel with fried garlic and pepper, Spain
Godeungeo jorim made with mackerel, radish and seasonings, Korea



  1. ^ Croker, Richard Symonds (1933). The California mackerel fishery. Division of Fish and Game of California. pp. 9–10.
  2. ^ Jersey Seafood Nutrition and Health, State of New Jersey Department of Agriculture, retrieved 6 April 2012
  3. ^ Scombrotoxin (Histamine) Food Safety Watch, November 2007.
  4. ^ Croker (1933), pages 104–105
  5. ^ a b Clapham JH, Postan MM and Rich EE (1941) The Cambridge economic history of Europe CUP Archive, pp. 166–168. ISBN 978-0-521-08710-0.
  6. ^ Itou, K; Kobayashi, S; Ooizmi, T; Akahane, Y (2006). "Changes of proximate composition and extractive components in narezushi, a fermented mackerel product, during processing". Fisheries Science. 72 (6): 1269–1276. doi:10.1111/j.1444-2906.2006.01285.x.
  7. ^ Storelli MM, Barone G, Piscitelli G, Marcotrigiano GO (2007). "Mercury in fish: concentration vs. fish size and estimates of mercury intake". Food Addit Contam. 24 (12): 1353–7. doi:10.1080/02652030701387197. PMID 17852384.
  8. ^ FDA (1990–2010). "Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish". Retrieved 14 September 2011.
  9. ^ Natural Resources Defense Council. "Protect Yourself and Your Family". Retrieved 14 September 2011.


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