Saturday, December 26, 2020

Masago: health benefits and risks

The Masago is a common ingredient that has recently gained popularity among experts in sushi and Japanese cuisine connoisseurs. Easily distinguishable by its vibrant color and unique flavor and texture, it is enjoyed around the world for both its versatility and its powerful health profile.


Not only is it easy to add to a variety of recipes, but it also features a concentrated dose of protein, healthy fats, and essential nutrients like vitamin B12, selenium, and magnesium.

    Ready to see what else has this delicious ingredient to offer? Let's take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of this unique ingredient and how you can add it to your diet.

    What is masago?

    Masago, also called scent roe, is a type of fish egg that comes from the capelin, a species of fish found mainly in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic oceans. The capelin fish belongs to the fusion family and is an important forage fish that is considered a staple in the diets of Atlantic cod and other species such as the harp seal.

    The capelin meat itself is not commonly eaten but is sometimes dried, roasted, or salted. Instead, it is typically reduced to food or oil and used to produce fish feed or fertilizer.

    It is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that provides a wide variety of benefits

    It can often be found in masago sushi and seafood recipes alike, and can also be used to increase the flavor of sauces and gravies. In addition to being incredibly versatile, it is also known for its impressive nutrient profile. 

    Benefits of Masago

    Although it is generally consumed in small amounts, it contains a fairly extensive nutrient profile and can increase your intake of several key nutrients, including vitamin B12, selenium, and magnesium. It is also considered a   nutrient-dense food, which means it contains a concentrated amount of these key vitamins and minerals for a low amount of calories. Here are some benefits of masago:

    1. Natural source of vitamin D

    It is also one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, an essential micronutrient that many do not consume. In fact, a deficiency in this important nutrient can contribute to a host of vitamin D deficiency symptoms, including fatigue, depression, insomnia, and anxiety.

    2. High in Omega-3

    Additionally, the roe of capelin is an excellent source of  omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of heart-healthy fat associated with a variety of benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids not only help support heart function, but have also been shown to protect cognitive health, reduce inflammation, and help with weight management.

    3. low in mercury

    It is also low in mercury and can be safely consumed, even during pregnancy. According to the American Pregnancy Association, pregnant women can safely enjoy it, along with other low-mercury seafood options, such as salmon and tobiko.

    Other healthy properties

    The surprising composition explains an impressive list of useful properties of masago. It is proven that the inclusion of caviar in the diet contributes to:

    • to strengthen immunity and vision, due to the fact that caviar contains vitamin A,
    • elimination of toxins from the body,
    • vascular strengthening,
    • normal bone formation and development, largely due to vitamin D, which is part of caviar,
    • cell renewal,
    • improvement of the metabolic processes of the sexual glands.

    Omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids included in masago:

    • improves brain function,
    • minimize the risk of blood clots,
    • reduces the likelihood of heart and blood vessel disease, such as hypertension, coronary heart disease, and atherosclerosis,
    • improve blood circulation.

    To avoid rickets, women should use capelin caviar both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Caviar is also useful for men since the presence of phosphorus and iodine helps to produce the hormone testosterone, which improves the sexual health of the powerful. The high content of iodine in the calf is considered excellent prevention of diseases of the thyroid gland. In addition, the consumption of capelin caviar has a positive effect on the skin, it neutralizes cholesterol. And the list of amazing properties of the product can still go on.

    Potential downsides of masago

    However, there are a few potential downsides to be aware of, plus several reasons why you may want to keep your intake in moderation, including:

    High sodium content

    First, masago is relatively high in sodium, with 10 percent of the recommended daily value in a single tablespoon. For those who have high blood pressure or heart problems, reducing sodium intake is the key to controlling blood pressure.

    Overdoing your sodium intake can contribute to other health problems as well, and high sodium intake has been associated with problems like stomach cancer and bone loss.

    They are often combined with unhealthy ingredients

    It is also more commonly found in sushi, a popular food that has the potential to be fraught with health problems. In addition to being typically full of farmed fish, refined carbohydrates, and questionable ingredients, the raw fish found in sushi also significantly increases the risk of parasitic infections and foodborne illness.

    Population decline causing ecological concerns

    Furthermore, the consumption of masago can also be linked to some ecological concerns. In fact, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans recently reported that the capelin stock had declined by 70 percent between 2015 and 2018, which is largely attributed to environmental issues rather than overfishing.

    However, that is not to say that fishing is not contributing to the problem. According to some researchers, fisheries often target egg-bearing fish, expel the delicate ecosystem, and contribute to declining capelin populations.

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    Not only does this essentially eliminate the next generation of capelin, but it also diminishes the food supply for large predatory fish that depend on species like capelin for survival.

    Masago Nutrition

    It is a low-calorie diet and also contains proteins and healthy fats. It also contains many important nutrients, such as selenium and magnesium, and provides more than 50 percent of the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12 in each serving.

    One tablespoon (16 grams) contains approximately:

    • 40.3 calories
    • 0.6 grams of carbohydrates
    • 3.9 grams of  protein
    • 2.9 grams of fat
    • 3.2 micrograms of vitamin B12 (53 percent DV)
    • 10.5 micrograms selenium (15 percent DV)
    • 48 milligrams  magnesium  (12 percent DV)
    • 1.9 milligrams iron (11 percent DV)
    • 240 milligrams sodium (10 percent DV)
    • 37.1 international units of  vitamin D  (9 percent DV)
    • Riboflavin 0.1 milligrams (6 percent DV)
    • 0.6 milligrams pantothenic acid (6 percent DV)
    • 57 milligrams  phosphorus  (6 percent DV)

    In addition to the nutrients listed above, but also contains a small amount of calcium, vitamin B6 and vitamin.

    Uses and where to find Masago

    Although it has risen in popularity in recent years, it can still be a bit difficult to find and may require you to venture beyond your corner grocery store.

    Asian specialty stores or fish markets are your best bet for a fresh masago rating, but you can also find it at certain online stores if options are limited in your area.

    Although masago sushi is the most popular way to enjoy this delicious treat, the potential uses for this roe extend beyond sushi. It is a staple ingredient in Japanese cuisine and can be used to prepare seafood pasta, bowls, or rice dishes.

    Additionally, some people also mix mayonnaise with sriracha and a few tablespoons of it to make a spicy sauce for sushi rolls or dipping.

    History of Masago

    The consumption of fish eggs dates back to the 4th century BC when caviar produced from sturgeon roe was commonly served at feasts. It was even considered a delicacy and enjoyed as a luxury item in ancient Greece, Rome, and Russia.

    Although caviar was originally produced from fish in the wild sturgeon family, there are many other convenient and affordable options available for enjoying roe, such as roe salmon, tobiko, and roe of capelin.

    While it can be added to a variety of recipes, it is most often found in sushi, a staple in Japanese cuisine dating back thousands of years.

    Although sushi has evolved over time and taken many different forms, the style of sushi that most people are familiar with emerged around the 1750s after the invention of sheet-shaped nori seaweed. Other types of sushi, like nigirizushi, didn't appear until years later in the 1820s.

    Today, this roe are considered a popular alternative to tobiko and are commonly enjoyed in everything from sauces to seafood dishes and more. In addition to providing a tasty flavor and crunchy texture to foods, it can also increase the nutritional value of your favorite recipes.

    Masago Precautions

    Allergic reactions to fish roe, such as roe of capelin, are rare but have been reported. If you experience any negative food allergy symptoms such as hives, itching, or swelling after eating this food, stop using it immediately and consult your doctor.

    Plus, these roe are high in sodium, accumulating about 10 percent of the recommended daily value in just one tablespoon.

    Exaggeration in high sodium foods has been linked to many adverse health effects, so be sure to keep your intake in moderation if you have high blood pressure, heart problems, or kidney problems.

    Make sure you also store masago properly to keep it fresh for longer and reduce the risk of foodborne illness. In general, it is recommended to keep it frozen and move it to the refrigerator only when you are ready to use it.

    It can last up to six months in the freezer but stays fresh for only three to four days in the refrigerator.

    Differences between Masago and Caviar

    It may be one of the most popular varieties of roe, but it is not the only type available. Besides roe of capelin, tobiko and caviar are two other common ingredients that are enjoyed for their unique taste and extensive nutrient profile.

    Tobiko is also a type of roe, but it comes from fish of the Exocoetidae family or flying fish; It is small and orange-red in color with a distinctive smoke flavor.

    When comparing masago versus tobiko, it is seen with the naked eye that masago is cheaper and a little smaller, with a more subtle flavor and a little less crunchy.

    Like roe of capelin, tobiko is versatile and can be used in many recipes, including egg sushi. And because tobiko is slightly more expensive than, the two are used interchangeably in dishes.

    Meanwhile, the term caviar typically refers to a delicacy derived from the eggs of any fish in the Acipenseridae family or wild sturgeon. However, other more affordable varieties are also available and are produced from species such as salmon or American paddle. Eggs are generally salt-cured, can be served fresh or pasteurized, and enjoyed as is, alongside a cookie or bread or as a garnish or appetizer.

    However, there are many concerns about the sustainability of traditional caviar derived from fish such as Beluga sturgeon, by including it on the list of fish you should never eat.

    Final thoughts

    Masago, sometimes called odor roe, is a type of fish egg that comes from capelin.

    Although it is generally consumed in small amounts, it contains a good amount of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, selenium, and magnesium.

    However, it is also relatively high in sodium, so it's best to keep your intake in moderation if you have a history of hypertension, heart problems, or kidney disease.

    It's also usually paired with unhealthy ingredients, like in sushi, and there are some concerns when it comes to sustainability.

    It has a smooth, flavorful flavor that works well in many dishes. Try adding this nutrient-packed power food to spring rolls, dips, or seafood pasta to take advantage of its unique flavor and nutrient profile.


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