What Are the Health Benefits of Monkfish?

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

Monkfish is a fish found in the Atlantic Ocean, around Maine, to North Carolina. Cooked monkfish tastes sweet with a mild flavor. The meat is firm with a meaty texture that closely resembles lobster. Eating this fish comes with numerous health benefits.

Monkfish is a fish that's brown on top and white on the underside. Its body is narrow and tapered. The distinctive feature of the monkfish is its broad, flat head and colossal mouth with long, needlelike teeth. The fish is sometimes called "all mouth" due to those features.

The monkfish also has a dangling appendage on its head as bait for its prey. Because of that, the monkfish is considered an "angler fish." These fish can grow up to over 4 feet long and weigh up to 50 pounds. Monkfish harvest season runs from November to June. The season reaches its peak in fall.

Monkfish is rich in nutrients like protein, phosphorus, vitamins B6 and B12, and selenium.


Proteins are referred to as the building blocks of life. This nutrient is made up of amino acids. When you eat protein, your body digests it into amino acids and uses them to make cells and repair the damaged ones. There are three types of amino acids, essential and nonessential. Your body doesn't make essential amino acids, so you need to eat them to get them.

Proteins have a number of benefits. One of them is helping in weight management. Protein-rich foods give you increased satiety (feeling full) more than other foods rich in fats and carbohydrates. That helps to reduce the overall amount of calories you take in.

Another benefit of protein is that it helps repair and strengthen muscles after exercising. That makes protein-rich foods helpful in increasing athletic performance. Protein also helps to prevent the development of a condition called sarcopenia. Sarcopenia is a condition where you lose muscle mass and function as you age.


Phosphorus helps promote bone and teeth health. It's one of the most abundant minerals in the human body. Most of the phosphorus in your body is in the bones and teeth.

Other functions of phosphorus include:

  • Maintaining your body energy levels
  • Forming genetic material (DNA and RNA)
  • Forming cell membranes
  • Maintaining your body's pH (acidity)
  • Delivering oxygen throughout your body
  • Maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system functioning

Vitamins B6 and B 12

Vitamin B6 is also known as pyridoxine and is used in reducing the development of some cancers. Vitamin B12 is also known as cobalamin and can be found naturally in animal foods. This nutrient is vital for the development of the brain and nervous system. It's also used in the formation of your DNA and red blood cells.


Selenium is one of the nutrients referred to as trace minerals. That means that your body needs it only in small amounts. It's a component of proteins and enzymes called selenoproteins. Selenoproteins are vital for the formation of your DNA, protecting your cells from damage or infection, reproductive health, and thyroid hormone metabolism. 

Selenium is primarily stored in the thyroid gland and muscles. It also plays a role in preventing the development of thyroid disease, some cancers, and cardiovascular conditions. Lack of enough selenium in your thyroid gland may lead to autoimmune thyroid conditions like Graves' disease and Hashimoto's disease. In these autoimmune disorders, the body can attack the thyroid gland, leading to hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) or hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid).

Monkfish have low levels of mercury in their meat. While the amount of mercury is not considered harmful to humans, high consumption of mercury can pose some health risks. Monkfish also has lower omega-3 fatty acid content compared to other types of fish.

While monkfish don't contain alarming levels of mercury, younger children and women ready to bear children should try to limit the amount of mercury-contaminated fish. For older people, the benefits of getting omega-3 from the fish may outweigh the health risk of eating fish with mercury.

One serving containing 100 grams of monkfish contains:

  • Calories, 76
  • Protein, 14.48 grams
  • Total fat, 1.52 grams
  • Total saturated fatty acids, 0.34 grams
  • Carbohydrates, 0 grams
  • Total sugar, 0 grams
  • Total dietary fiber, 0 grams
  • Cholesterol, 25 milligrams
  • Selenium, 26.5 micrograms
  • Sodium, 18 milligrams

Monkfish meat is a healthy option, especially if you are trying to manage your weight. That's because monkfish has low levels of sodium and calories. A serving of 6 ounces of cooked monkfish only has 110 calories. However, despite being low in calories, this meat contains high cholesterol levels. For this reason, consider eating monkfish as a treat from time to time.

There are different ways of preparing monkfish. You can buy it as a whole gutted fish or in cuts of livers or tails. The tail of the monkfish is said to have a lobster flavor and is referred to as the "poor man's lobster." The liver can be eaten as sushi (ankimo). 

You can also grill, sautée, roast, or even add monkfish to soups.

While the actual unprepared monkfish is not very pleasing to look at, you can get it filleted, without the skin, and ready for cooking. One simple recipe is monkfish with spinach. Roast the monkfish with olive oil and seasonings at 400°F for 20 min. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan, sauté 12 ounces of baby spinach on medium heat for 2 minutes, and wait for it to wilt and cook. Then sprinkle some lemon juice. If you want, you can top the dish with some sliced almonds.