What Is Masago? Benefits and Downsides

What Is Masago? Benefits and Downsides
What Is Masago? Benefits and Downsides of Capelin Fish Roe

Masago, frequently referred to as smelt roe, is a delicacy deduced from the edible eggs of the capelin fish( Mallotus villosus). These bitsy, flavorsome eggs are celebrated for their unique taste and nutritive value. In this comprehensive blog, we will claw into the world of masago, exploring its origin, nutritive content, possible health benefits, and some considerations for those who wish to incorporate it into their diets.

A Glimpse into Capelin Fish and Masago

Capelin fish, a species belonging to the smelt family, are an essential part of the marine food chain, serving as a primary food source for larger meat-eater like codfish, seabirds, seals, and whales. These small, argentine-green fish, resembling sardines, play a key part in marine ecosystems.

While the meat of capelin is indeed eatable, it’s frequently sought after by fishers to produce a variety of products, with masago being one of the most prominent. It’s intriguing to note that roughly 80 of harvested capelin is used to produce fishmeal and fish oil products, while the remaining 20 is devoted to producing masago. This demonstrates the significance of capelin in the seafood industry.

Female capelin generally begin releasing eggs at around 2 to 4 years of age and continue spawning throughout their lives. Masago is harvested from these feminine capelin when they’re filled with eggs but before they’ve the opportunity to spawn. It’s these small, flavorsome eggs that find their way onto sushi rolls and other culinary creations.

Masagovs. Tobiko What Sets Them Apart?

Masago is occasionally confused with tobiko, the eggs or roe of flying fish, due to their resembling appearances and uses in cooking. still, there are key distinctions between the two.

1. Size and Cost

Masago is generally smaller and more affordable than tobiko. This characteristic frequently leads to masago being used as a popular replacement for tobiko in sushi rolls, making it a cost-effective choice.

2. Color

 One of the most eye-catching differences is the color. Masago naturally has a dull yellow hue and is constantly dyed in vibrant colors like orange, red, or green to enhance its visual appeal. In contrast, tobiko exhibits a bright natural red color.

3. Texture

 While both masago and tobiko offer alike flavors, their textures differ. Tobiko has a more pronounced crunchiness compared to the softer texture of masago. This textural distinction can impact the overall dining experience.

4. Quality and Cost

 Tobiko is frequently considered a high- end sushi ingredient, reflecting its high cost and perceived quality.

nutritive Value of Masago

Masago is a nutritive powerhouse, offering a range of essential nutrients in a small package. Here is a breakdown of the nutritive content in just one ounce( 28 grams) of masago

• Calories 40

• Fat 2 grams

• Protein 6 grams

• Carbohydrates lower than 1 gram

• Vitamin C 7 of the Daily Value( DV)

• Vitamin E 10 of the DV

• Riboflavin( B2) 12 of the DV

• Vitamin B12 47 of the DV

• Folate( B9) 6 of the DV

• Phosphorus 11 of the DV

• Selenium 16 of the DV

Vitamin B12

 specially, masago is exceptionally rich in vitamin B12, giving a remarkable 47 of the Daily Value( DV) in a single ounce. Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin essential for multiple physical functions, including red blood cell development, energy production, nerve transmission, and DNA conflation.

Omega- 3 Fatty Acids

 Masago, like other fish roe, is a source of healthy fats, including omega- 3 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats play a pivotal part in regulating inflammation and are vital for immune function, heart health, hormone yield, and lung function.


 Despite its small size, masago is protein-rich. A one- ounce serving contains 6 grams of high- quality protein. Protein is known for its sating effects, helping to control hunger and potentially helping in weight control.

Amino Acids

 Fish roe, including masago, are packed with amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. Lysine, valine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, and phenylalanine are among the amino acids found in masago. specially, leucine and lysine are essential for protein synthesis and muscle reconstruction.


 Masago is a significant source of selenium, a mineral that acts as a potent antioxidant in the body. Selenium plays pivotal parts in thyroid function and vulnerable support.

Omega- 3 Fatty Acids

 Omega- 3 fatty acids, abundantly found in fish roe like masago, have been linked to a reduced threat of heart conditions, including heart failure and coronary artery disorder. These essential fats are known for theiranti-inflammatory properties and contribution to overall cardiovascular health.

Low in Mercury

 Capelin, the source of masago, is a small rummage fish and tends to have lower mercury levels compared to larger fish species like mackerel or swordfish. also, research suggests that fish roe tends to contain lower mercury levels than other region of the fish, similar as organs and muscle tissue. This makes masago a safer seafood option for those concerned about mercury exposure.

Potential Health Benefits of Masago

Consuming masago can offer a range of possible health benefits due to its impressive nutritive profile

1. High- Quality Protein

 Masago provides a precious source of high- quality protein, which can help in malnutrition, weight control, and muscle health.

2. Selenium and Vitamin B12

 Masago’s selenium content contributes to antioxidant activity and supports thyroid and immune function. Its rich vitamin B12 content is vital for red blood cell production, energy, and nerve health.

3. Omega- 3 Fatty Acids

 The omega- 3 fatty acids in masago can help reduce inflammation, promote cardiovascular health, and support multiple physical functions.

4. Low Mercury Content

 Masago’s low mercury levels make it a safe seafood option, reducing concerns about heavy metal exposure.

Considerations and Potential Downsides

While masago offers multiple health benefits, there are some considerations and possible downsides to be mindful of

1.Ecological Concerns

 Capelin fishing techniques, particularly those that target egg- bearing feminine capelins for masago production, have raised ecological concerns. Environmental institutions express queries about capelin populations and possible impacts on other species.

2. High Sodium Content

 Like numerous other fish roe, masago is naturally high in sodium. also, it’s frequently mixed with salty ingredients like soy sauce and salt to enhance its flavor, further pumping up its sodium content. overdue salt consumption may lead to increased blood pressure, particularly in salt-sensitive individuals.

3. Risk of Allergic Reactions

 As masago is a seafood product, people with fish and shellfish allergies should avoid it. It’s important to note that fish roe, including masago, contains vitellogenin, a fish egg thralldom protein that can be an allergen. In some cases, indeed people without seafood allergies have witnessed allergic responses to fish roe.

4. Added Ingredients

 Masago products can occasionally contain more constituents like monosodium glutamate( MSG) and high fructose corn syrup. These constituents may be of concern to some people due to possible health implications.

Incorporating Masago into Your Diet

For those interested in adding masago to their diet, there are multiple creative and delish ways to do so

• Sushi Rolls

 Masago is a classic overtopping for sushi rolls, adding both flavor and visual appeal.

• Appetizers

Create appetizers by combining masago with cheese and fruit on a plate for a diverting and colorful treat.

• Flavorful Rice Dishes

Use masago to enhance the flavor of rice dishes, inoculating them with its unique taste.

• Poke Bowls

 Spoon masago onto poke bowls for an stimulating and flavorful overtopping.

• Noodle

 Dishes Incorporate masago into Asian noodle dishes to elevate their flavor.

• Fish Topping

 Top fish with masago to introduce a tasteful twist to your seafood dishes.

• Sauces

 Mix masago into seasonings like wasabi or spicy mayonnaise to inoculate them with its distinct taste.


Masago, the edible eggs of the capelin fish, offers a compelling mix of flavor and nutrition. Its rich vitamin B12 and selenium content, coupled with omega- 3 fatty acids and protein, make it a precious addition to a balanced diet. still, it’s critical to consider possible downsides, suchlike as its sodium content and the ecological impact of capelin fishing techniques.

nevertheless, exercise caution when incorporating masago into your diet, If you have a seafood allergy or high blood pressure. nonetheless, for those who can enjoy seafood, masago presents an stimulating opportunity to explore new culinary horizons and savor the unique taste of these bitsy, nutrient-rich eggs. Whether as a sushi overtopping, a flavorsome addition to rice dishes, or a creative ingredient in appetizers, masago brings a burst of flavor and nutrition to the table.

Categories: Healthy lifestyle
Share :
Dr Hafsa Ilyas

Onco-Radiologist & Medical Research Writer

Post a Comment