Masago, also known as capelin roe, is the ripened egg of the capelin fish. Capelin is a type of foraging fish that frequents the world’s cold-water regions, namely the Arctic, North Pacific, and North Atlantic. Capelin fish are an important source of food for whales, puffins, Atlantic cod, and other ocean predators. Capelins eat mostly plankton, but they will eat bigger crustaceans when they can find them.
Capelin eggs (masago) are extracted and enjoyed in many countries throughout East Asia. Masago is especially popular as an ingredient in certain types of sushi, but most people don’t know that capelin eggs are something of a superfood.
How Masago Can Benefit Your Health
Heart health. The omega-3 fatty acids in masago help the body make the hormones it needs to control blood clotting and prevent inflammation of the heart’s artery walls. Researchers have found that people who eat more omega-3 fats have a lower incidence of heart disease than people who don’t.
Eye health. The omega-3 fatty acids contained in foods like masago are an important component of the retina’s structure. While the exact role they play in eye health is not fully understood, several studies have found that omega-3s significantly contribute to the development of the eyes in babies and young children.
Bone health. Masago also has a lot of vitamin D, which can help you prevent bone loss and fractures over the long term. Scientists even recommend using vitamin D supplements in the treatment of osteoporosis.
Reduce arthritis symptoms. The omega-3 fatty acids in foods like masago can reduce symptoms of inflammation throughout the body, which may have important benefits for people living with rheumatoid arthritis.
The Advantages of Eating More Fish Protein Like Masago
If you’ve been looking for ways to bring more protein into your diet, look no further than masago. A mere 2 tablespoons of masago yield 6 grams of protein, making it a smart addition to the diet, with several potential health benefits.
Weight loss. Studies show that eating foods high in protein can reduce cravings for snacks and other unhealthy foods. One study found that people who got 25% of their calories from protein were able to lower their previous cravings, especially at night, by half.
Increased muscle strength. Protein-rich foods like masago are needed to build new muscles and to maintain the ones you already have. If you’re thinking about starting a more active lifestyle, adding masago to your diet may be just the thing you need to supplement the gains you’ll be making.
Improve blood pressure and cholesterol. Researchers have found that high-protein diets which include roe like masago, were able to reduce the body’s LDL cholesterol and triglyceride levels, which helped people better regulate their blood pressure. Having high blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of kidney and heart disease.
Masago Nutritional Information
Masago is a rich source of vitamin B12, a nutrient needed by the body’s cells for metabolism. Deficiency in vitamin B12 can hurt the body’s ability to absorb nutrients, make new blood cells, and even lead to anemia.
Masago is also a high-quality source of:
Nutrients per serving:
A 14-gram serving of masago, about 1 tablespoon, contains:
Possible Health Concerns With Masago
Masago is low in mercury. Exposure to mercury in high quantities can cause numbness, muscular weakness, difficulty speaking, and other unpleasant effects. While many fish products can be high in mercury, the eggs of the capelin fish, which has a foraging diet consisting mostly of plankton, isn't one of them. If you’ve been looking to add more seafood to your diet but have been worried about mercury levels, masago would be a good choice.
Masago probably poses no risk to kidney health. Since eating protein-rich foods similar to masago has lately become more fashionable, there have been concerns that kidney health could be negatively impacted. However, while scientists recommend that people with kidney disease avoid eating too much protein, they’ve found no evidence that people with healthy kidneys should avoid foods high in protein.
Masago does have a high sodium content. Be careful of masago’s high sodium content if you decide to eat it. Just 1 tablespoon of masago contains about 240 milligrams of sodium, or 10% of the recommended daily amount of sodium, which can add up fast if you sprinkle masago on too generously. For this reason, masago is a dish best eaten in moderation.