Advantages and disadvantages of taking masago

Fish roe is a food highly valued by the population that likes strong flavors. These fully ripe roe are obtained from many types of fish, such as sturgeon, salmon and herring or masago.

The latter, also known as the capelin roe, is a small fish that sails in the cold waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific.

The masago It is a very popular ingredient in Asian cuisine, and is considered a specialized product, valued for its deep flavor and different from the rest of roe.

In this article we want to analyze the benefits from the nutritional point of view, the properties it offers us and possible disadvantages of eating masago.

What exactly is masago?

Masago roe is the edible eggs of the capelin fish, scientifically known as Mallotus villosus, which belong to the family Osmeridae.

This fish has quite a few competitors and large predators, especially seals, whales and seabirds, and they look quite similar to sardines.

The meat of the capelin is edible, although what is most valued are its roe, known as masago.

In statistical terms, 80% of the capelin fish is used to make fishmeal and other derivatives such as fish oil. The remaining 20% is used to produce masago.

The female capelin begins its reproductive period from 2 years of age, at which time it produces masago, until practically the end of its life cycle.

This ingredient is commonly used in sushi rolls, with a pale yellow roe, although it is often dyed bright shades of orange appearance, although it is not the real color of masago.

As for its flavor, it is not exactly a strong contribution and is much softer than other roe, so it fits very well with ingredients such as wasabi or ginger.

Confusion of masago and tobiko

To inexperienced eyes, the masago is sometimes mistaken for tobiko (the roe of the flying fish). They are quite similar, but they have appreciable differences when we know how to appreciate them.

Masago roe is somewhat smaller and has a lower price than tobiko, so it is usually used as a cheaper substitute in the preparation of sushi rolls.

As for the taste, both are quite similar. However, tobiko has a somewhat less crunchy texture. The latter is considered a more sophisticated ingredient to make a high quality sushi.

Nutritional relationship of masago

In general, fish roe does not usually provide a high caloric value, but in mineral elements such as sodium when they are prepared, so their consumption should be moderated.

A portion of 28 g of masago gives us the following:

  • Energy: 40 kcal
  • Protein: 6 g
  • Grease: 0 %
  • Carbohydrates: less than 1 g


  • Vitamin C: 7% of the recommended daily allowance (RDA)
  • Vitamin E: 10% of the CoR
  • Riboflavin (B2): 12% of the CoR
  • Vitamin B12: 47% of the CoR
  • Folate (B9): 6% of the CoR


  • Phosphorus: 11% CDR
  • Selenium: 16% CDR

An interesting contribution of masago to our diet is the group of B vitamins, especially vitamin B12. It is considered as an essential nutrient that we are not able to produce on our own, and is essential for several functions such as the production of red blood cells, energy metabolization and functioning of the nervous system.

In addition, masago provides healthy fats such as Omega 3 fatty acids. They are considered as polyunsaturated fats that are vital for the proper functioning of our immune system.

A good presence of different amino acids based on proteins has been found, among them the most important glutamine, leucine and lysine.

The amino acid glutamine provides a vital role in the correct intestinal health and the immune system. Leucine and lysine are necessary for the production of muscle regeneration proteins.

Consumption of masago in sushi

Advantages of its consumption

Next, we are going to analyze what a diet in which masago is included in the diet can provide us. It is important to read its advantages and the existing scientific contrasts, but also the disadvantages to establish a correct assessment of whether take these fish roe or not.

Ideal source of animal protein

Although the amount we can take of roe is, in general, reduced, it contains a high concentration of proteins. As we have seen, a serving of 28 grams gives us up to 6 g of protein something almost comparable to what a large egg gives us (approximately 50 grams).

A high-protein diet, such as Scardale Diet, can benefit weight loss, as long as it is accompanied by physical activity. In addition, masago provides a quality protein based on containing the 9 essential amino acids that our body requires daily.

Mineral contribution of selenium and vitamin B12

A serving of 28 g of masago gives us 16% of the amount we need daily of selenium. This mineral is considered by the scientific community as a powerful antioxidant, and we also find it in different seafood.

Its activity is based to reduce oxidative stress and regulate the proper functioning of the thyroid gland and the immune system. [selenium in human health]

Scientific research has linked an adequate level of selenium in the body with a good immune response and a correct prevention of mental deterioration.

On the other hand, the vitamin B12 intake (47% of the RDA) is positive and fundamental to ensure correct brain activity and correct energy regulation. [Vitamin B12 and its relationship with health]

Rich in Omega 3 fatty acids

The unsaturated fats provided by masago, especially Omega-3, are related to a large number of health benefits. This type of polyunsaturated fats they have regulatory activity of inflammation, act on blood clotting and are an essential part of cell membranes.

Clinical trials report that a regular intake of foods containing Omega-3 offers a guarantee of suffering fewer heart problems, such as heart failure or blockage of the coronary arteries. [omega-3 and heart failure risk]

Reduced mercury content

Small fish, in general, contain a lower level of mercury per gram than larger fish, such as swordfish.

In turn, it has been studied that the accumulation of this metal in the roe, in the case of the masago, is considerably lower than in other parts, such as muscle tissue or organs.

Because of this, masago can be consumed without danger of exposure to high concentrations of mercury.

Some drawbacks

Although masago offers some health advantages as we have seen, it also has potential disadvantages that we must analyze to be as objective as possible.

Concerns related to capelin fishing

The capelin population is shrinking considerably due to massive fishing with totally aggressive methods that cause overexploitation.

Selecting fish roe also reduces the likelihood of multiplying and negatively affects the population.

High sodium content

Roe, when prepared, contains a high concentration of sodium. On its own, unprepared masago contains less than 1% of the RDA of sodium, but when it is made, much more is added.

Some brands produced by capelin roe provide up to 260 mg of sodium. That is, a single tablespoon would provide us with more than 10% of the RDA of this mineral.

The scientific community recommends having a low-sodium diet, since there are various diseases related to an excess of salt, such as hypertension.

Risk of allergic reaction

Fish roe is a type of food that causes various food allergies to people sensitive to the compound vitelogenin.

These allergic reactions are related to possible rashes and respiratory condition. In fact, in Japan, the country where more fish is consumed, it is the 6th largest food allergen.

Many vecis contains unhealthy ingredients

Some masago end products contain additives and preservatives that are not well regarded. Some of them are corn syrup, due to its high fructose content, or monosodium glutamate.

This element has been shown to cause ailments related to headaches, skin redness and general weakness in sensitive people.