Fish roe is a rare food, considered a delicacy by some, that consists of the ripe ovaries of fish. As with other forms of seafood, fish roe is rich in protein and relatively low in calories. Fish roe is low in carbohydrates and provides a broad range of beneficial nutritional characteristics, but it's not an optimal food for everyone. Fish roe also has some drawbacks, such as a high cholesterol content, which can be detrimental to the health of some individuals.
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Although cholesterol is often used as a singular term, your body actually has two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoproteins, or HDL, which is beneficial, and low-density lipoproteins, or LDL, which is considered unhealthy. HDL is important because it can decrease your risk of strokes and heart attacks and prevent LDL from clogging your arteries.
Altering Cholesterol Levels
Many factors affect your HDL and LDL levels, which can be a disadvantage in some cases, but also advantageous because it means you can address your condition on your own. Consuming a diet high in saturated fat and cholesterol, being overweight and smoking can have adverse affects on your cholesterol levels, while a balanced diet, exercise and a healthy body weight can be beneficial.
Fish Roe and Cholesterol Drawbacks
Regular consumption of fish roe can be unhealthy because it may increase your LDL cholesterol. A 3-oz. serving -- just 173 calories -- of fish roe provides 407 mg of cholesterol. This amount is more than twice the 200 mg suggested as a daily upper limit by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
Fish Roe and Cholesterol Benefits
Fish roe's nutritional profile does offer some potential benefits for cholesterol levels. All but 1.5 g of the 7 g of fat in each 3-oz. serving is unsaturated, rather than saturated or trans fat, which are unhealthy fats. Each 3-oz. serving of fish roe also provides 24 g of protein. A protein-rich diet may help you achieve a healthy weight, according to research published in May 2008 in "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition," which indicates that protein is more filling than other nutrients, encourages lean muscle mass and encourages a higher rate of calorie-burning than carbohydrates or fat.
- American Heart Association; About Cholesterol; June 2011
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute;High Blood Cholesterol: What You Need To Know; June 2005
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Fish, Roe, Mixed Species, Cooked, Dry Heat
- Cleveland Clinic; Nutrition - Cholesterol Guidelines; July 2010
- "The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition"; Protein, Weight Management, and Satiety; D. Paddon-Jones et al.; May 2008