Healthy Living

Is It Healthy To Eat Fish Skin?

Fish skin is either served as an appetizer or as part of the main meal in restaurants. After being cooked separately, salmon skin can also be served as a side dish or as a standalone food item. Skin present on the filleted piece of fish can be transformed into a tasty crust spruced up with herbs and spices, depending on the chef's creativity.  

Deep fried and salted fish snacks are also gaining popularity, but since they are high in fat and sodium, this type of fried fish skin is best consumed with self-restraint. However, the question on most people’s mind is whether fish skin that looks and feels rubbery in raw form is harmful to health in any way. 

One sure-shot way to avoid eating unhealthy outer skin of fish is to avoid fish from polluted water bodies and those that are farmed with dangerous chemicals. That said, it's generally fine if you establish the source of the fish procured, remove the outer scales completely and clean the meat thoroughly.  

How do you eat fish-skin?

For crispy fish, grill and pan fry the skin and do not boil or steam the fish since it could make the skin's texture slimy. Bass, barramundi, flounder, mackerel, salmon, and snapper are known to have better tasting outer skin to eat. The ones that most people find taste bad are monkfish, skate, swordfish, and tuna. 

Eating the skin poses no other dangers other than those that come from eating the entire fish. Due to mercury levels increasing in the sea, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend eating four ounces of fish more than two or three times per week. These contaminants could easily be absorbed by the skin.

Which fish is best? Catfish, cod, salmon and canned tuna are low in mercury. On the other hand, snapper, mackerel, swordfish and shark have high levels of mercury. Here are the key benefits of not leaving out the skin the next time you eat fish: 

Rich Source of Omega-3s

By taking out the skin, the amount of nutrients available will be considerably reduced. Omega-3 fatty acids are present equally both on the skin and on the flesh, which means they are reduced by half if the skin is removed. Polyunsaturated fat is also crucial to cardiovascular health. It also helps in cell regeneration and prevents inflammation.  

May support skin health

Fish is a potent source of collagen and vitamin E, both essential vitamins for the protection of skin health. However, collagen is found in all parts of the fish, including the fish skin, not just in the bones and flesh. Vitamin E protects the skin from eczema and other skin conditions. It is found most abundantly in salmon and trout. 

Fish Kiyomura Co's President Kiyoshi Kimura (C), who runs a chain of sushi restaurants, holds a sword as he poses with a 200 kg (400 lbs) bluefin tuna at his sushi restaurant outside Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo, Japan, January 5, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai