Does Dover Sole Have Health Benefits?

Reviewed by Christine Mikstas, RD, LD on May 19, 2022

Dover sole is a flatfish with a small head and creamy underside. It's a saltwater fish that lives at the bottom of shallow oceans. Dover sole health benefits and its firm, flavorful meat make it a desirable addition to your diet. 

Fish are included in the protein foods group, and Dover sole has the advantages of high protein and low fat content. The Dover sole taste, meanwhile, is delicate, mild, and sweet. 

In the U.S., Dover sole fishing is responsibly managed and sustainable.

What Is Dover Sole?

Dover sole is a saltwater flatfish. It is usually caught in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. European sole (Solea vulgaris) is different from the sole caught off the U.S. West Coast and in the Gulf of Alaska (Microstomus pacificus). Dover sole are bottom dwellers in shallow waters that feed on mollusks, crustaceans, and ocean worms.

Dover sole are relatively large fish. They grow up to 30 inches (76 centimeters) in length and 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) in weight.

Dover sole is also an expensive fish. You should be careful to only buy it from a dependable fishmonger or store. The US Food and Drug Administration warns against its substitution with the cheaper arrowtooth flounder.

Dover Sole Health Benefits

In general, seafood is low in saturated fat and high in polyunsaturated fat. Oily fish, meanwhile, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health. Most seafood is also a good protein source for heart health. 

Dover sole specifically has a low total fat content (1.19 grams per 100 grams). Less than a third of the total fats are saturated fats.

Dover sole provides protein in good amounts without much fat. This makes it a healthy source of protein and other nutrition. Its fat content and composition have heart health benefits. It also reduces the risk of becoming overweight or obese. Red meat consumption, in contrast, is associated with the risk of colon cancer. Fish is, therefore, a safe alternative to meet your protein requirement. 

Seafood is, however, often contaminated with methylmercury. This substance is an industrial waste product and is often consumed by bottom-feeding fish. Sharks, swordfish, and marlin are particularly likely to contain high amounts of this toxin. Methylmercury is harmful to the brain and nerves if a person repeatedly consumes it. 

Dover sole contains low amounts of it, though, and is a safe food to meet your protein requirements if obtained from a reputable source.

Dover Sole Nutrition

A 100-gram portion of Dover sole has 19 grams of protein and only 91 calories. The total fat content is 1.19 grams per 100 grams, of which 283 milligrams are saturated fat. The cholesterol content is 48 mg/100 grams. This low fat content and the low proportion of saturated fats and cholesterol are beneficial for heart health

Dover sole also contains some minerals — calcium, iron, potassium, selenium, and sodium. Dover sole has no sugars or fiber, though.

Dover sole also provides some vitamins. Vitamin A, E, and D are present in raw fish. It also contains some thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B6), folate (vitamin B9), and methylcobalamine (vitamin B12). It has no vitamin C. 

Is Dover Sole Healthy?

Fish is a subgroup of the protein foods group. Dover sole (and other fish) provide beneficial fatty acids like eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). The chief health benefit of Dover sole comes from providing protein without too much fat.

Oily fish like salmon and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart health. Dover sole, though, is a lean fish that doesn't provide much of this nutrient.

Dover sole is healthiest when it is baked, grilled, or steamed. Frying can increase its fat content.

Dover Sole During Pregnancy and for Children

Sole is included in the US Food and Drug Administration Best Choices list among fish. You should eat two or three servings a week of the fish included on this list during pregnancy. Doing so helps your baby's brain development. 

Dover sole is a bottom-dwelling flatfish. It is at risk of mercury contamination because of its habitat. Methylmercury is dangerous during pregnancy because it can harm the developing fetus, but the FDA has found Dover sole to have low levels of methylmercury.

Fish are part of a healthy diet for children. They contain many nutrients that are important for brain development:

  • Omega-3 and Omega-6 fats
  • Choline
  • Iodine
  • Iron

Children should eat two servings of healthy fish a week. The serving size varies from 1 ounce at age 1 to 3 years to 4 ounces at age 11 years. 

How to Cook Dover Sole

Buy Dover sole that is refrigerated or kept on ice. Pick up fish last when shopping. Fish goes bad quickly once out of the refrigerator. Dover sole should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer after buying.

Dover sole is usually cooked after it has been skinned on the darker side. The white skin of the underside is left in place but can be easily separated from the flesh. Dover sole can be cooked whole or as fillets. You can grill, fry, or poach it.

Dover sole is best when cooked as simply as possible. Being a flatfish, Dover sole yields a thin fillet. Over-cooking is a real danger. You'd do well poaching, saucing, or steaming Dover sole rather than baking or broiling it. It's best with flavored butter or simple sauces. 

Some popular dishes include:

Sole Véronique. This is a French dish cooked with grapes and vermouth.

Sole à la meunière. This fish is served with a sauce of browned butter, parsley, and lemon juice.

Goujons. Fillet strips of dover sole are dipped in egg and flour and then fried in a pan to a golden-brown color.

Filets de sole à la cancalaise. This is an elegant preparation of poached sole cooked with wine and sometimes served with oysters and tiger prawns.

Paupiette of sole. This is a more elaborate dish with salmon fillets, wild mushrooms, and herb sauce.

Show Sources

BBC Food: "Dover Sole Recipes."
Fishwatch. US Seafood Facts: "Dover Sole."
National Health Service: "Fish and shellfish."
US Department of Agriculture: "Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025," "Fresh Wild Dover Sole Fillets."
US Food and Drug Administration: "Advice About Eating Fish," "Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish (1990-2012)," "Seafood Species Substitution and Economic Fraud."
Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife: "Dover sole (Microstomus pacificus)."

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