What Is Masago- Is It Nutritious?
To know if Masago is good for you or not, you must know what is Masago and why is this Japanese staple gaining so much popularity among fitness enthusiasts.
Fully ripened eggs of many fishes are called fish roe. Fishes like salmon, herring, and sturgeon have fish roes. Masago is the fish roe of capelin fish. It is a small fish present mainly in the cold waters of the Arctic, North Pacific, and Atlantic oceans.
If you are thinking about what is masago, it is a popular ingredient in Asian cuisine and is very well known for its distinct taste. It is also considered to be a specialty product.
You will get to know what is masago, its nutrition, downsides, and benefits through this piece of article.
What Is Masago?
Masago is known commonly as smelt roe. These are edible eggs of fish capelin belong to the smelt family of fishes. They are recognized forage fish which indicates they are important for sources for large aquatic predators like Sea birds, codfish, whales, seals, etc.
These fishes are small and silvery-green closely resembling the sardines. Though capelin fish has edible flesh, the Fishermans create edible products out of it like masago.
Nearly 80% of capelin harvested is used for the production of fish oil products and fishmeal while the other 20% is used to produce only Masago. Female capelin fish starts releasing eggs at around 2 to 4 years of age and continue doing so until they are dead.
Masago is mainly harvested from the female caplin fishes when these fishes are full of eggs but before the fish get the opportunity to spawn. It is used commonly as an important ingredient in sushi rolls. It is pale yellow but it is dried often into bright hues like green, red, or orange to add visual interest into the recipes and dishes prepared put of it.
The flavors of Masago are mild and they are sometimes mixed with other ingredients like ginger, wasabi, and squid ink.
Nutrition Profile Of Masago
Now that you know what is masago, to know if you should consume it or not, look at the nutrition file of this dish. Like all other types of fish roe, even masago is low in calories but is high in essential nutrients. Let’s see which are they:
Just 28 grams of fish roe has or 1 ounce of fish roe has:
- Calories- 40
- Fat- 2 grams
- Crabs- less than one gram
- Protein- 6 grams
- Vitamin E- 10% of the daily value
- Vitamin C- 7% of the daily value
- Riboflavin or Vitamin B2- 12% of the daily value
- Vitamin B12- 47% of the daily value.
- Selenium- 16% of the daily value.
- Phosphorus- 11% of the daily value.
- Folate or vitamin B9- 6% of the daily value.
This was the nutrition profile of masago. Fish roe is normally high in vitamin B12. It is a water-soluble vitamin that is necessary to achieve from supplements or food items as your body will not produce on its own.
Vitamin B12 is highly important for the body to perform some critical functions including energy production, DNA synthesis, development of red blood cells, etc. Fish roe like Masago is rich in proteins and healthy fats but low in carbs. Fats like Omega 3 fatty acids are present in it.
These types of polyunsaturated fats help control inflammation and are essential for the proper functioning of the immune system, lungs, heart, and hormones.
Additionally, fish roe is rich in amino acids as well. Amino acids as you already know are building blocks of protein especially valine, lysine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, and phenylalanine. Leucine and lysine are highly essential for the synthesis of protein and the repair of muscles.
Health Benefits Of Masago
Now you are familiar with what is masago. As it is seafood, masago is highly nutritious and offers many health benefits to consumers. Let’s see what are the potential health benefits of consuming masago regularly.
1. It is a rich source of high-quality protein
Though it appears tiny in size, it is packed with powerful protein punches. As you already saw in the nutrition profile of masago that 1 ounce of masago contains 6 grams of high-quality protein. This is similar to a 50-gram egg.
Compared to other macronutrients fats and carbs, protein is satiating and helps manage hunger. Adding protein-rich food to your diet like masago can help stay satisfied for long thus preventing overeating. It results in weight management for people struggling with obesity and who are overweight.
Fish roe comes under the category of complete proteins because it has all the 9 essential amino acids in it which are listed above.
2. It is a natural source of vitamin B12 and Selenium
Masago is an excellent source of selenium. Selenium is a mineral and acts as a strong antioxidant in our body. It is present in concentrated amounts in most plates of seafood. It helps reduce oxidative stress in the body and plays a major role in the immune system and thyroid.
Research shows that increased levels of selenium in blood enhance the immune response in a person and helps to prevent mental decline. Though it has so many benefits as per experts, the results ate not yet conclusive to affirm the facts.
If you know what is masago, you also know it is a good source of vitamin B12, which is important for energy production and nerve health, it also helps perform other bodily functions that are highly important.
3. Rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids play a crucial role in the functioning of our body. These are polyunsaturated fats with many powerful benefits related to your health. These special fats help regulate inflammation, are an integral part of the cell membrane, and controls blood clotting.
Research has indicated that higher consumption of food items rich in omega 3 fatty acids is linked to a lower risk of heart failure, coronary artery diseases, and other heart-related issues.
Fish and its products like masago are among the best dietary sources of omega 3 fatty acids.
4. Low In mercury
Because capelin falls under the category of small forage fishes, it is much lower in mercury as compared to large fishes like swordfish and mackerel. What is more, to it is that researchers have shown that dish roe is the lowest in mercury when you compare it with other body parts of fish like some tissues and organs making them healthier options to intake.
It can be consumed during pregnancy too as it is low in mercury. As per American Pregnancy Association, masago is safe for pregnant ladies in moderate amounts with other seafood options that are low in mercury like tobiko and salmon. However, some potential downsides may be there, so make sure you consult your doctor.
For this reason alone, you should definitely know what is masago and its amazing benefits when it comes to fatty of consumers. If you want to keep mercury at a minimum in your diet, you can always opt for masago.
5. Natural source of vitamin D
It is also among one of the few sources of vitamin D that occurs naturally. Vitamin D is a highly essential micronutrient that most people do not get enough to sustain all the functions. In fact, vitamin D deficiency can lead to symptoms of vitamin D deficiency like depression, insomnia, anxiety, and fatigue.
Now that you know what is masago and its incredible health benefits, let’s see what are potential downsides are to know more and better about masago.
Although masago offers some great benefits to health, it has some potential downsides too before you consider consuming it regularly Have a look at them:
Ecological Concerns About The Capelin Fishing
While masago can be a great alternative and a better choice compared to other seafood types, buyers should know that there are concerns about catching overfished and endangered species related to capelin fishing ways.
Environmental organizations have declared uncertainties about the population of capelin and many concerns regarding fishing methods. Usually, egg-bearing caplins are targeted to meet the increased demand for masago. Environmentalists are extremely worried that this might affect the population of this species negatively thus leading to extinction.
High In sodium Content
Like most other fish and seafood that you eat, even masago is high in sodium content. It is often mixed with ingredients that are salty when it’s prepared like salt and soy sauce to enhance the taste which ends up increasing salt content, even more, when final products are released.
Consuming salt or sodium in excess may lead to increased blood pressure and harms the health of people who are sensitive to salt.
Risk of allergies
As you already know what is masago, those who are allergic to seafood like shellfish and fish, should avid it completely. Fish roe consists of vitellogenin, which is a fish egg yolk protein and is recognized as an allergen.
What’s more, this can even cause allergic reactions in people without any seafood allergies. These include lower blood pressure, narrowing of airways, and rashes.
In Japan, fish roe is considered to be the 6th most food allergen. This is the reason many people avoid eating it.
It is combined with other ingredients
Those who like masago and regularly consumes it should be mindful of many other ingredients it is combined with, such as MSG (monosodium glutamate) and high fructose corn syrup.
Regular intake of high fructose corn syrup is associated with insulin resistance, inflammation, and disrupted metabolism. MSG is a common additive in many food items and is used to enhance the flavor in many products like masago.
Research has shown that MSG can lead to some adverse reactions in people such as weakness, headaches, and flushing of the skin.
How to add masago to your diet
Now that you know everything about what is masago, its health benefits, downsides, nutrition profile, etc, let’s see how you can add masago to your diet.
Masago is a unique ingredient that may be sued in a lot of ways. It has a semi-crunchy texture with salty flavor making it a great addition to many Asian-inspired appetizers and dishes. You can purchase masago through numerous seafood vendors in different flavors such as wasabi, squid ink, and ginger.
Here are few ways you can use to add masago to your diet:
- Combine masago with fruits and cheese on a plate to prepare a tasty appetizer.
- Top homemade sushi rolls with a teaspoon of masago.
- You can use masago to add flavor to rice dishes.
- Spoon masago onto poke bowls to make a unique topping.
- You can add masago to Asian noodles.
- Mix masago into spicy mayonnaise and wasabi to flavor your favorite sushi rolls.
As you already know what is masago, you also know it is high in salt, so make sure you only add a small amount of it to create a strong flavor.
Though it is mostly used in Asian cuisines, it can be incorporated into various recipes that you would love to pair with something salty.
Masago Vs Caviar Vs Tobiko
Masago is among the most popular roe varieties but it is not the only type that you can eat. There are other varieties available too. In addition to masago, caviar, and tobiko are other common ingredients sued to add extensive nutrients and flavor into dishes.
Most of us are aware of caviar, but do you know what tobiko is? Like masago, tobiko is a type of roe but it arises from a fish in the flying fish or Exocoetidae family. Tobiko is an orange-colored small fish with a smoky flavor. Masago is cheaper when compared with tobiko and is also smaller with subtle flavors.
Similar to masago, even tobiko is versatile and sued in many different dishes including egg sushi. Meanwhile, caviar comes from eggs of fishes in the wild sturgeon or Acipenseridae family. These eggs are salt-cured and can be served pasteurized or fresh. They are enjoyed either side bread or crackers.
Smelt roe or masago is edible eggs of capelin fishes. They are high in protein content and many essential nutrients and fats like omega 3 fatty acids., vitamin B12, and selenium.
Be careful about roe products that have additional ingredients like MSG, added salt, and high fructose corn syrup. Eat masago moderately if you have high blood pressure and avoid it completely in case you have a seafood allergy.
However, if you love seafood and can tolerate it, then this interesting ingredient can add district flavors to all the recipes you eat. Give masago a try if you are a seafood lover.
Find out more on the differences between cod liver fish and fish oil.