What Are the Health Benefits of Halibut?

Medically Reviewed by Kathleen M. Zelman, RD, LD, MPH on June 02, 2024
4 min read

Halibut is a predatory marine flatfish. it has a dark, or upper side, where both eyes are located, and a white. or lower side.  It swims sideways with its body flat and its dark side facing up. This type of fish lives near the ocean floor but occasionally comes closer to the surface.

Like many other types of fish, halibut meat is very nutritious. Halibut tastes mild-flavored and has white flesh. When prepared and eaten correctly, it can have numerous health benefits to your body.

What is Halibut?

The halibut fish is known for having both eyes on the right side of the head. Its color ranges from dark green to brown-black on the side facing the top and white on the lower side. The halibut can grow to about 8 feet in length and weigh over 500 pounds. This fish type can live up to 55 years.

Eating halibut can help maintain a healthy heart, manage chronic inflammation, speed up recovery of muscle fiber, benefit your nervous system, and more. 

The reasons eating halibut may improve your health are:

Halibut fish is a good source of trace elements or micronutrients such as selenium, phosphorus, and magnesium, along with vitamins B3 (niacin), B6 (pyridoxine), and B12 (cyanocobalamin). Your body needs these trace elements in small amounts.

It contains high-quality protein. You can get about 42 grams of protein from only one serving of cooked halibut. Protein is crucial in building and repairing muscles, facilitating weight loss, suppressing appetite, etc. The proteins you get from eating halibut are complete proteins. That means they provide every essential amino acid that your body can't make on its own.

It promotes heart health. Halibut meat contains nutrients that keep the heart healthy, such as selenium, magnesium, niacin, and omega-three fatty acids.

Niacin (vitamin B3) helps to promote a healthy heart and protects you from developing cardiovascular illness. This vitamin also plays a role in protecting your skin from harmful sun rays. 

Phosphorus is vital in maintaining a regular heartbeat, metabolism, and bone development. It's known as the most abundant mineral in the human body. Magnesium is used to lower blood pressure and muscle movement, form proteins, and create energy in the body.

Selenium helps your body reduce the risk of cardiovascular conditions, repair its damaged cells and promote thyroid health. It's also known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. The antioxidant properties of selenium help to manage oxidative stress and keep cholesterol plaques from forming on the walls of the arteries.

It has anti-inflammatory properties. Eating halibut can help your body fight off inflammation. It contains the nutrients niacin, selenium, and omega-three fatty acids, which all have anti-inflammatory properties. Fatty acids help prevent inflammation by getting rid of molecules or substances, like cytokines and eicosanoids, that cause inflammation. The nutrient selenium has also been found to have benefits to the immune system in the right amount.

Halibut also produces caviar rich in vitamins A and D. Vitamin A, or retinol, helps maintain eye health and is a powerful antioxidant. Vitamin D is crucial in the development of bones.

Other health benefits of halibut include:

  • Preventing the formation of blood clots
  • Getting rid of toxins from the body
  • Preventing some cancers
  • Preventing Alzheimer's disease
  • Promoting liver health
  • Improving digestion
  • Maintaining a healthy skin
  • Treating acne

Halibut white meat contains nutrients such as proteins, carbohydrates, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, selenium, and omega-three fatty acids. It has some trace amounts of copper, folic acid, sodium, and pantothenic acid.

In every 100 grams of baked or broiled (no added fat) halibut, there is:

  • Water, 74.3 g
  • Energy, 115 kcal
  • Protein, 23.4 g
  • Total lipid (fat), 1.68 g
  • Carbohydrate, by difference, 0.1 g
  • Fiber, total dietary, 0 g
  • Sugars, total including NLEA, 0.04 g
  • Calcium, 9 mg
  • Iron, 0.2 mg
  • Magnesium, 29 mg
  • Phosphorus, 297 mg
  • Potassium, 549 mg
  • Sodium, 408 mg
  • Zinc, 0.45 mg
  • Copper, 0.029 mg
  • Selenium, 57.4 µg
  • Vitamin C, 0.5 mg
  • Thiamin, 0.057 mg
  • Riboflavin, 0.036 mg
  • Niacin, 7.79 mg
  • Vitamin B-6, 0.622 mg
  • Folate, 14 µg
  • Folic acid, 0 µg
  • Folate, 14 µg
  • Choline, 77.9 mg
  • Vitamin B-12, 1.25 µg
  • Vitamin A, RAE, 23 µg
  • Retinol, 23 µg

Eating halibut can sometimes cause health issues. This is because halibut meat contains low to moderate levels of mercury.

While the mercury amounts in halibut do not make the fish unsafe to eat, consuming it excessively may lead to some issues. The toxins can build up in your body. However, the benefits of eating fish outweigh the dangers of consuming mercury in meat. The mercury content in fish may not cause any harm to adults, but it can affect the development of the brain and nervous system in younger children and unborn babies.

Most fish that contain high levels of mercury are big and predatory fish. This is because the fish can get exposed to mercury after feeding on smaller fish that feed on mercury-rich plankton. The longer a fish lives, the longer they are exposed to the mercury in water. Mercury exists naturally in the environment, including in water. 

Other fish that contain some amounts of mercury include shark, sea trout, king mackerel, swordfish, yellowfin tuna, bluefish, and buffalofish.

Halibut meat is quite tender and tasty. You can prepare halibut by baking, stewing, sautéing, grilling, searing, and steaming.

Some examples of Halibut recipes you can try include:

  • Alaska Halibut poached in coconut green curry
  • Crispy fried Alaska Halibut
  • Alaska seafood stew
  • Herb crusted Alaska Halibut cassoulet of white beans
  • Mediterranean style Alaska Halibut with village Greek salad
  • Sheet pan-Alaska Halibut with zucchini, mushrooms, and tomato
  • Whiskey-steamed Alaska Halibut
  • Slow-roasted Alaska Halibut with citrus & smashed olives