What is Salmon Roe? The Hidden Health Benefits of This Powerhouse Superfood
What is Salmon Roe?
Salmon roe is quite simply, the unfertilized eggs of a female salmon fish. You likely notice that salmon roe isn't referred to as 'salmon caviar' - or at least, it shouldn't be.
There's a distinct difference between the bright orange fish eggs of a salmon and those that are given the prestigious name, 'caviar.' The term 'caviar' is reserved only for fish eggs that come from one of the 27 varieties of the Sturgeon fish species. Among the most popular are paddlefish, river beluga, osetra, and sevruga.
Salmon eggs (also known as ikura) are stunning to look at; this is one of the reasons they're a popular choice for banquet tables and parties. Their sizeable, vibrant orange beads glisten and add a sought-after pop of color to centerpieces and appetizers. For this reason, salmon eggs are sometimes called 'red caviar.' Food that goes well with salmon roe includes white rice, blinis, sour cream, buttered toast, scrambled eggs, and herbs of almost any kind. It's ofter served along with or inside sushi, as well.
The taste of salmon roe has been described as tangy and sweet. The large beads are juicy and many people say they taste a bit 'fishier' than those of black caviar.
Salmon roe is a nutritional gold mine. The nutritional information of this salty delicacy may surprise you! Here's what is found in salmon eggs:
- Red Caviar contains 30-35% protein and 12-15% fat.
- There are 0 carbs in salmon roe.
- 1 oz of salmon roe only contains about 40 calories, mostly from healthy fats.
- Salmon eggs contain vitamins A, E, D, K, and almost all of the B vitamins, including large amounts of B12.
- It also contains high amounts of magnesium, manganese, selenium, zinc, saturated and polyunsaturated fats, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, sulfur, iron, fatty acids, and plenty of essential amino acids.
- Due to the salt curing process, salmon roe also contains sodium.
Processing of Salmon Roe
Wild-caught, as well as farmed salmon roe, are both available on the market. While farmed roe may be more affordable, it's possible wild-caught salmon will have more health benefits. Caviar lovers also attest that wild-caught salmon has a better flavor, but you can judge for yourself.
On the most reputable salmon farms, roe is sustainably removed from fish and the fish population is perpetuated through breeding techniques. Fish are kept well fed in safe holding tanks that are built in their natural breeding grounds, keeping the salmon more comfortable than if they were removed from the sea and grown in man-made holding tanks.
Salmon roe is cleaned and cured with a salt brine to kill all bacteria, allowing us to enjoy its rich, buttery flavor without the need for cooking. While salmon roe is sometimes used in recipes, it's more commonly eaten fresh from the container.
Mercury Content of Salmon Roe
If you're worried about mercury poisoning from salmon roe, you don't need to be. While most seafood has some risk of containing mercury, the levels in salmon tend to be lower than most, on average. Salmon meat can be safely consumed even by pregnant women, and roe is no different, however, most doctors will recommend that expectant mothers consume caviar in small quantities to avoid the accumulation of mercury in their systems.
A Preferred Source of Omega-3 DHA and EPA
EPA and DHA are the two types of omega-3 fatty acids, essential proteins necessary for brain health. They're called 'essential' fat because our body can't produce them; we have to consume them through our diet. EPA benefits are slightly different than those of DHA, and finding both in large quantities within one food is uncommon.
EPA May Help Reduce Inflammation
When we have a healthy amount of EPA fatty acid in our bodies, it can help inhibit arachidonic acid (AA), which is responsible for activating the processes that result in cellular inflammation. Thus, eating salmon can decrease inflammation. Ultimately, regularly consuming EPAs may help reduce blood clot formation, instances of artery plaque progression, and risk for major coronary events, such as heart attacks, and heart failure.
DHA May Help Reduce Instances of Cancer
DHA has its own host of health benefits. DHAs may help reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) following exercise, may slow the development of retinopathy, can lower blood pressure and improve circulatory system function, and might even help fight off the development of cancer.
Other Health Benefits of Eating Salmon Roe
Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease
Recently, researchers in Japan have shown that eating caviar has the potential to improve brain health and aid in recovery from dementia or Alzheimers.
The study looked at two groups of mice. One group had access to the caviar while the other group did not. They found that both groups started with similar levels of hippocampus functioning but after about four weeks, the caviar group was performing significantly better when it came to memory, spatial navigation, and general brain health.
The Japanese researchers believe that due to its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, caviar is an ideal food for improving brain health. Omega-3 fatty acids are one type of polyunsaturated fat that is essential for healthy brain function.
Salmon Roe Might Give You Energy
Salmon roe is an excellent source of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. Four, in particular, are energy boosters: Vitamin B12, vitamin B2 (riboflavin), and calcium.
Vitamin B2 in particular (riboflavin) helps the body metabolize fats and proteins. Riboflavin helps convert the carbohydrates we eat into adenosine triphosphate, more commonly called ATP. We use our food to produce ATP which is converted into energy every time our bodies need it.
Salmon Roe May Support the Immune System
Omega-3s are known for their positive effects on the immune system. Salmon roe contains high levels of Omega-3s and is often eaten raw which seems to enhance these effects. Omega-3s are essential for maintaining a healthy balance of cytokines in cells, which are molecules that orchestrate how the body responds to an infection or illness. Because of this, it seems eating salmon roe regularly can help your body recover from viruses more quickly.
Roe May Support Infant Brain Development
Eating salmon roe may provide important support for healthy fetal brain and nervous system development. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon eggs are necessary for brain development. It's possible our brains are at least 50% DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid we must consume in our food. Doctors recommend that pregnant women try to eat eight to 12 ounces per week from a variety of seafood types to reap the most benefit.
Is Salmon Roe Keto Friendly?
Yes, salmon roe is completely keto-friendly. For those on low-carb diets, salmon roe is an excellent source of nutrients and healthy fats.
Salmon roe is an excellent source of minerals, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and protein. It is also a good source of many other nutrients that provide vital health benefits. If you're looking for an excuse to enjoy this delicacy more often, your health is a great one!