Are There Any Benefits To Eating Fish Skin?

The American Heart Association, the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, the FDA, the American Diabetes Association, and many more health institutions recommend eating at least one portion of fish each week.

Fish is an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and many vitamins and minerals vital for our health.

As long as it is properly cleaned and prepared, fish – with or without the skin – can be a delicious and nutritious addition to your diet without much risk of adverse health consequences.

Why Do Some People Avoid Eating The Skin?

Some people don’t like the taste or texture. This is often a result of the cooking method that is used. Boiling and steaming fish can lead to yucky, soggy, and slimy skin.

Pan-frying or grilling at high temperatures can produce a more crispy, tasty skin.

Some fish have better tasting skin, such as:

  • salmon
  • bass
  • flounder
  • snapper

And some fish skins are generally regarded as less desirable:

  • swordfish
  • tuna
  • monkfish
  • skate

Some people avoid eating fish skin because they have been told it is unhealthy and can contain toxins and heavy metals. Fish can absorb toxins from their surrounding environment, so this may occasionally be true, but in these cases, toxins like mercury can be found throughout the flesh and not just in the skin.

To limit your risk of mercury exposure, limit or avoid eating:

  • mackerel
  • marlin
  • shark
  • swordfish
  • tilefish
  • tuna

Instead, get your weekly recommendation of seafood servings with low-mercury fish:

  • anchovies
  • catfish
  • clam
  • cod
  • crab
  • crawfish
  • flounder
  • haddock
  • herring
  • lobster
  • oyster
  • perch
  • salmon
  • sardine
  • scallop
  • shrimp
  • tilapia
  • trout
  • whitefish

This risk of eating fish skin is minimal. You can remove it if you feel more comfortable avoiding it or don’t like the taste. But you may be missing out on a lot of valuable nutrients.

The Health Benefits of Eating Fish Skin

Many of the same benefits of eating fish are similar to eating the fish skin.

Fish – its flesh and skin – is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids.

Omega-3s provide many benefits to our health, including:

  • increased heart health and reduced risk of heart diseases
  • reduced risk of neurodegeneration and Alzheimer’s disease
  • stimulates brain and nerve cell growth for learning, remembering, and decisive thinking
  • can improve depression and other mental health conditions
  • reduce chronic inflammation and inflammation-related disorders
  • improved liver function
  • improved skin condition

The skin also provides a significant concentration of protein, vitamins, and antioxidants, which can be very helpful for promoting good health.

If you choose to remove the skin before cooking, you may lose some tasty health benefits.