Can you eat mackerel?

In this brief article, we will answer the question, ”Can you eat mackerel?”. We will also elaborate on the taste of mackerel, the shelf life of mackerel, the habitat and types of mackerel, as well as the advantages of eating mackerel. 

Can you eat mackerel?

Yes, you can eat mackerel. There is no harm in eating mackerel as it is very tasty and is available at a low price. However, it is not a good option to eat it daily. Additionally, it is preferred for eating when it is super fresh.

The taste of mackerel

Mackerel has a very pleasant taste. Its taste resembles salmon. Mackerel is a strong-flavored fish. For the people who don’t like the taste of mackerel, they can improve it by using a sprinkle of salt, a drizzle of oil, or a lemon.

Shelf life of mackerel

In general, fish have a limited shelf-life in comparison with meat products (veal, lamp, pork, poultry) as a result of the high post mortem pH in the flesh (usually > 6.0), the presence of large amounts of non-protein nitrogen, the high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids and the presence of autolytic enzymes (4).

Mackerel can be refrigerated for one to two days after purchasing it. If we store mackerel under proper conditions, its storage period can be enhanced. One common method to enhance the shelf life of mackerel is to wash it in cold water. 

After washing the mackerel, it is dried with a paper towel. Then the wax paper is used to wrap it and is stored in the refrigerator.

A study showed that mackerel fish filets packed in Polyamide/Low density Polyethylene (PA/LDPE) packages and stored at 2°C were considered acceptable in terms of color, texture, odor and taste for 11 days and that this period could be extended by applying modified atmosphere conditions (4).

The nutritional content of mackerel

The following nutrients can be availed of by eating mackerel, according to the USDA.

  • Zinc
  • Potassium
  • Magnesium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Selenium

Studies show that Indian mackerel fish contains, on average: 73.45% moisture, 20.95% protein, 3.29% fat and 1.66% ash (2).

However, throughout the year, fish are subjected to considerable environmental changes and fluctuations in the availability and compositions of their feed, which will affect the chemical composition of their muscles. Studies on Chub mackerel showed the following composition: 75% moisture, 22% protein, 0.18% fat and 1.57% ash (3). 

The habitat of mackerel

Mackerels live in a variety of environments. Some mackerels prefer to live in tropical regions. These regions have warm water. While some mackerels reside in coastal habitats. These mackerels, which prefer to live near coastal habitats, don’t reside near the bottom but use a pelagic ecosystem within the water column.

Types of mackerel

Below are three different types of mackerel.

  • Atlantic mackerel: Atlantic mackerel is also known as Boston or Scottish. These species are mostly present in commercial fisheries. These fish can be sold in the form of canned, fresh, frozen, and smoked. Atlantic chub mackerel (Scomber colias) is found throughout the warm and temperate coastal waters in the Atlantic Ocean, as well as the Mediterranean and southern Black Sea (1).
  • Indian mackerel: This type of mackerel has a strong body as compared to its Atlantic cousin. In certain countries like India and Southern Asia, people depend mostly on this type of mackerel. While preparing this fish, the head and digestive tract of the fish must be removed. Rastrelliger kanagurta is widely distributed in the tropical Indo-West Pacific region. They live on average 5 years and reach 30 cm in length (2).
  • Chub mackerel: This type of mackerel has a swim bladder. Due to this swim bladder, fish remain neutrally buoyant in the water column through the utilization of gas and air. Chub mackerel can easily navigate the waters surrounding it as it does not sink or float. Chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) is distributed throughout the Pacific Ocean (1).

Recipes in which mackerel are used

Indian mackerel fry recipe: 

After making two or three diagonal slits of mackerel, ginger-garlic paste, red chili powder, turmeric powder, lime juice/vinegar, and salt are mixed in a bowl. After applying marinade to the fish it is left for eight to ten minutes so that it gets into the slits. Oil is heated in a pan until it shimmers. 

Then marinated mackerel is fried over medium heat so that each side becomes golden brown. It must be kept in mind that the skin of mackerel does not break while flipping. It is served with a sprinkle of lime while it is hot.

Mackerel fish pie: 

After preheating the oven to 180 degrees centigrade, potatoes are peeled and are cut into cubes. These potatoes are boiled until they become soft. Onions are fried in hot oil after peeling and chopping them. Chopped tomatoes, pepper, and drained mackerel are added. 

Potatoes are mashed with milk and cheese is grated. Potatoes are spooned on the top over the fish mixture. Once the top becomes golden brown, it is removed from the oven and is served with vegetables.

Advantages of mackerel

Following are some advantages of mackerel

  • Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega 3 fatty acids present in mackerel provide anti-inflammatory properties. Also, this is very effective for maintaining cardiovascular health. It has been found that omega-3 fatty acids have a protective effect on heart and tissue related diseases in particular, and they have beneficial effects on hypertension, diabetes, and brain growth and cancer in infants, and that its deficiency results in disorders such as skin diseases, anemia and defective eyesight (3).
  • Vitamin B12: Vitamin B12 present in mackerel protects us from anemia and damage to our nervous system. Mackerel fish is also a good source of vitamin A, E and Niacin (3).
  • Protein: The protein content of mackerel is also very high. Protein is essential for bone formation. Certain amino acids necessary for growth and maintenance must be included in the diet. Amino acids like aspartic acid, glycine, and glutamic acid are also known to play a key role in the process of wound healing. Mackerel fish is a good source of these amino acids (5).

Interaction of mackerel with humans: 

Many species of mackerel are utilized by humans for food. These fish are the target of various fisheries. Due to human activities, the climate is changing drastically, this climate change affects the survival rate of eggs and fish. 

But the effect of environmental change is the same for each species. As the population of some species is high so these species don’t get affected by human activities. While some species having less population are prone to human activities which lead to climate change.


In this brief article, we have answered the question, ”Can you eat mackerel?”. We will also elaborate on the taste of mackerel, the shelf life of mackerel, the habitat and types of mackerel, as well as the advantages of eating mackerel.

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Daley, Taylor T., and Robert T. Leaf. Age and growth of Atlantic chub mackerel (Scomber colias) in the Northwest Atlantic. J Northw Atlan fish sci, 2019, 50.


Nair, R. V. Indian Mackerel. CMFRI Bulletin, 1970, 24, 1-112.


Erkan, N., Selçuk, A. & Özden, Ö. Amino Acid and Vitamin Composition of Raw and Cooked Horse Mackerel. Food Anal. Methods, 2010, 3, 269–275.