What Is Masago? Nutrition Facts, Health Benefits and Downsides


The eggs of many fully grown fish species, such as sturgeon, salmon, and herring, are known as fish roe.

Capelin is a small fish that lives in the cold water of the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic seas. Masago is its egg.

Masago is a specialty product that is sought after for its unique flavor and is often used in Asian cooking.

This page talks about masago’s nutrition, pros and cons, and different ways to use it.

What is masago?

You can eat the eggs of the capelin fish (Mallotus villosus), a member of the smelt family. We refer to this as smelt roe or masago.

They are known as forage fish because they serve as a vital food source for larger predators like codfish, seabirds, seals, and whales. These little fish are bright green and look a lot like sardines.

Although fishermen can eat the capelin flesh, they primarily use it to make masago. Fishermen use about 80% of the caught capelin to make fishmeal and goods derived from fish oil. Masago uses the remaining 20%.

Capelin females start laying eggs when they are about 2 to 4 years old and keep doing it until they die. People catch female capelin fish for food when they are full of eggs but not yet ready to spawn.

Sushi rolls often use this pale yellow ingredient. People often dye meals bright colors like orange, red, or green to make them look more interesting. To give it a unique taste, people mix it with ingredients like wasabi, squid ink, or ginger.

 High in nutrients

Masago is low in calories and high in many important nutrients, just like other types of fish roe.

Fish roe, weighing just 1 ounce (28 grams), possesses

  • Calories: 40
  • Fat: 2 grams
  • Protein: 6 grams
  • Carbs: less 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 is a water-soluble vitamin that you can only get from food or pills because your body can’t make it itself. Fish roe has a lot of it.

Many things depend on vitamin B12, including making energy, building red blood cells, sending signals between nerve cells, and making DNA.

It’s like masago in that fish roe is low in carbs, high in protein, and high in good fats, such as omega-3 fatty acids.

Polyunsaturated fats like these help keep inflammation in check and are necessary for your immune system, heart, hormones, and lungs to work properly.

Also, fish roe is full of amino acids, which are the building blocks of protein. High amounts of amino acids include lysine, valine, histidine, leucine, isoleucine, and phenylalanine. We need leucine and lysine to build proteins and repair muscles.

Health benefits

Masago is healthy and good for you in many ways, just like other types of fish.

High quality protein

Even though masago is very small, it has a lot of protein. One serving, which is 1 ounce (28 grams), has 6 grams of high-quality protein, which is about the same as one large egg (50 grams).

Protein is the macronutrient that makes you feel full the longest. It also helps you control your hunger better than carbs and fat.

Adding protein-rich foods like masago to your diet can help you feel full longer and prevent you from eating too much, which can help you lose weight. Fish roe is a full protein, which means it has all nine amino acids that your body needs.

Source of selenium and vitamin B12

Squash contains large amounts of selenium, a mineral that functions as a potent antioxidant in your body.

Fish contain large amounts of selenium, which lowers oxidative stress. It is also very important for your thyroid and immune systems.

More selenium in the blood may help the immune system and keep the mind from getting worse, but the effects are still not clear.

Masago also contains a lot of vitamin B12, which is critical for nerve health, energy production, and many other body processes.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Polyunsaturated fats, like omega-3s, are very good for your health in many ways.

These unique fats help keep inflammation in check, keep your blood from clotting, and are an important part of the walls around your cells.

Research links a higher dose of foods high in omega-3 fats to a lower risk of heart diseases like heart failure and coronary artery disease. Some of the best foods to eat to get omega-3 fats.

Low in mercury

Capelin is a small food fish, so it has a lot less mercury than mackerel and swordfish, which are bigger fish.

Also, studies have shown that fish roe usually has the least amount of mercury compared to organs and muscle tissue. Because of this, fish roe, like masago, is safe for people who want to limit their mercury intake.


Even though masago is good for you in some ways, it can also be bad for you in others.

Masago may be a better choice than other seafood, but those who want to buy it should be aware that some people are concerned about how capelin fishing methods catch rare and overfished species.

Environmental groups aren’t sure about the numbers of capelin and are worried about some fishing methods.

Some environmental groups are concerned that the killing of egg-laying female capelins to meet the demand for masago may eventually harm the number of species.

High amount of salt

Masago has a lot of salt, like most other fish eggs.

Moreover, people frequently add spicy ingredients like soy sauce and salt to masago to enhance its flavor, which increases the product’s sodium content.

Salt-sensitive people may experience higher blood pressure if they eat too much salt.

Allergic reaction

People who are allergic to fish or crabs should steer clear of masago because it is made from seafood. Researchers have identified vitellogenin, a protein in fish egg yolk, as a potential allergen.

Fish roe, too, can make people allergic, even if they are not allergic to seafood. Some of these symptoms include rashes, reduced blood pressure, and narrowed airways.

People in Japan are the sixth most likely to be allergic to fish roe.

Mixed with other ingredients,

People who eat masago might want to be aware of the ingredients it frequently mixes with, such as high fructose corn syrup and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

It is known that eating a lot of high-fructose corn syrup can mess up your digestion, make insulin less effective, and cause inflammation. Foods like masago often contain MSG to enhance their flavor.

There isn’t a lot of good proof that MSG causes bad reactions, but some people say that after eating it, they get headaches, feel weak, and their skin turns red.

How to add it to your diet

There are numerous applications for this unique item.

It goes well with Asian-style meals or appetizers because it is semi-crunchy and tastes salty.

Many seafood vendors sell it, and it comes in a variety of flavors like ginger, wasabi, and squid ink.

Incorporate masago into your cuisine in the following ways:

  • Add a few teaspoons of masago to the top of your fresh sushi rolls.
  • Put fruit, cheese, and masago on a plate to make a tasty starter.
  • To add flavor to rice recipes, use masago.
  • For a different topping, add masago to poke bowls.
  • Asian noodle recipes taste better with masago.
  • Adding masago to fish is a tasty way to change up the recipe.
  • To make sushi rolls taste better, mix masago with wasabi or spicy mayonnaise.

A little masago will give your dish a lot of flavor because it usually contains a lot of salt.

Although Asian cooking primarily uses masago, many other recipes that call for spicy foods can also incorporate it.

The bottom line

You can eat capelin fish eggs. They are also known as Smelt Roe.

Plus, they have lots of good things for you in them, like vitamin B12, selenium, and omega-3s.

Bear in mind that there are goods that have extra things in them, like MSG, high fructose corn syrup, or salt. You should eat less masago if you have high blood pressure, and not at all if you are allergic to fish.

But if you’re okay with fish and want to try something new that will make your recipes taste different, masago is a good pick.

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