Should You Really Be Eating The Skin Of Fish?

When you've bought a piece of fish or gotten one out, there's always a question as to whether or not to eat the skin. Does the skin taste as good as the fish, and is there any benefit to eating it?

Fish are a commonly eaten source of food worldwide. Fish can be a delicious food choice and prepared in many different ways, plus it can be healthy (per Healthline). Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat a minimum of 8 ounces of seafood per week as part of a healthy eating pattern, reports U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA).

On the other hand, one possible downside to fish is their possible mercury content. Mercury can build up and stay stored in their fat over time (per WebMD). Mercury can be toxic to humans if consumed in large quantities. Bigeye tuna, swordfish, and mackerel are all in this higher mercury grouping, and should be avoided by children and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Fish are packed with healthy nutrients. For example, WebMD notes that a 3-ounce serving of baked herring offers 20 grams of protein! Fish also contains vitamins B12 and D, iodine, iron, phosphorus, niacin, and omega-3 fatty acids. These might help decrease risks of depression, dementia, and heart disease, plus play roles in nerve and thyroid function, cognitive health, DNA reproduction, and other essential aspects of your health. Do these benefits translate to eating the skin of the fish?

Fish skin contains nutrients

When it comes to the skin that comes attached to your fish, it is safe to eat, reports Medical News Today. Once the scales of a fish have been removed, the remaining skin can be both tasty and nutritious. The nutrition of the skin, just as with the fish itself, varies (via Healthline). However, fish skin often contains a number of nutrients such as vitamin D, vitamin E, iodine, selenium, taurine, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.

These nutrients can boost heart health, support muscle growth and immunity, protect the brain, and promote healthy skin. Eating the skin rather than removing it also helps reduce preparation time and increases the amount of nutrients you get out of it. However, it's important to note that mercury may also be present in the skin of high-mercury fish, so it is a good idea to opt for fish that are low in mercury.

While fish skin is an easy and delicious way to add nutrients, certain types of fish, such as tuna, may have skins you may not enjoy as much as those of other fish. To help make it easier to eat fish skin, try finding a method of cooking that you enjoy. You can grill or pan-fry the fish to get a crispier skin. Using olive oil is a good choice as olive oil contains its own antioxidants and anti-inflammatory effects (per Healthline).