Black Caviar and Immune System

Sandwiches With Caviar
A single bite of caviar can contain a day's worth of omega-3 fish oils. (Image: kvkirillov/iStock/Getty Images)

Most people associate black caviar with swanky parties and champagne, but it's much more than just a cocktail party cracker topping. Black caviar is simply sturgeon roe -- or fish eggs -- tiny little balls that contain contain vitamins and minerals that nourish the unborn fish. Some of these nutrients boost immune function. That said, you shouldn't rely heavily on black caviar as an immune booster. It's moderately high in calories and very high in prich. A balanced diet that includes fresh fruit and vegetables provides the same benefit without the impact on your wallet or waistline.

Vitamins

Vitamins A,C and E are famous for their immune-boosting effects. Vitamin A plays a role in the growth of all cells, and Vitamin E helps your body produce the cells that create antibodies, and prevents cell membrane degradation that leaves them vulnerable to viruses. Adults need 2,333 to 3,000 IU of vitamin A and 15 milligrams of vitamin E per day. An ounce of black caviar -- about a tablespoon -- provides 257 IU of vitamin A and about half a milligram of vitamin E.

Minerals

Zinc is the most famous immune-boosting mineral and is commonly added to cough drops and cold remedies. It helps your body make more white blood cells when needed, and helps them release the necessary amount of antibodies when a "bad germ" is detected. An ounce of black caviar contains about 0.27 milligrams of the 15 milligrams of zinc you need daily, You can get more zinc from fortified cereals and meats. Keep in mind that consuming more than 75 milligrams of zinc per day can actually work against your immune system, so extra isn't better. Black caviar also contains 18.6 micrograms of selenium and 3.37 milligrams of iron per ounce, both of which work to boost blood cell production to help fight off invading viruses and bacteria.

Essential Fats

Of the "good fats," omega-3 fatty acids are known to benefit the immune system by producing a group of chemicals called eicosanoids, which act as messengers between cells during an immune response. They also help regulate the body's inflammatory response to an irritant, which could otherwise overreact to a minor trigger and make you feel sicker than you actually are. Black caviar contains about 1,000 milligrams of both EPA and DHA per one-ounce serving -- adults only need up to 1,500 milligrams per day.

The Downside

Price isn't the only reason black caviar is eaten in bite-size servings -- each ounce contains 75 calories. That's more calorie-dense than a cookie. The salty flavor doesn't lie, either -- that single ounce also contains 425 milligrams of sodium, which is about as much as you would find in a can of soup. If you enjoy caviar, feel good about knowing that your quick bite at the cocktail party might do your immune system some good, but don't try to use it daily as a dietary supplement. A balanced diet that includes lean protein and fresh fruits and vegetables will provide a far greater benefit in terms of vitamin and mineral content.

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