What Is Masago? benefits and side effects

Recently, Masago has gained popularity not only among Japanese sushi enthusiasts but among traditional Japanese as well.  

The purpose of this article is to provide an overview of the nutrition, benefits, and downsides of Masago.

What Is Masago?

What Is Masago?

Masago is also called smelt roe, and it is an egg derived from capelin, a fish species found primarily in the North Atlantic, North Pacific, and Arctic Oceans. In addition to being part of the smelt family, the capelin fish is an important forage fish that is a staple in species’ diets, such as the Atlantic cod and the harp seal.

Generally, capelin is not eaten fresh, but it is sometimes dried, roasted, or salted. Approximately 80% of capelin harvested is used to produce fishmeal and fish oil, and the remaining 20% is used to produce Masago. 

On the other hand, Masago roe is an ingredient found in many Japanese dishes. It adds a bit of crunch to dishes and has a sweet, savory flavor. Many sushi and seafood dishes, sauces, and dips contain this ingredient.  

Masago vs. Tobiko vs. Caviar

Masago vs. Tobiko vs. Caviar
Masago vs. Tobiko vs. Caviar

Masago may be one of the most popular types of roe, but it isn’t the only one. In addition to masago, tobiko and caviar are the two other famous roes that include different flavors and nutritional profiles.

Caviar is well known, and it is commonly defined as any food made from the eggs of an Acipenseridae fish or a wild sturgeon. Fresh or pasteurized salt-cured eggs can be eaten with crackers or bread or as a garnish or appetizer. In addition, there are more affordable varieties that are produced from fish like salmon or American paddlefish.

Traditional caviar is made from fish like the Beluga sturgeon, which you should never eat because of its sustainability concerns. 

Okay, what is tobiko then? Masago is smaller and less expensive than tobiko, so it is often substituted for tobiko in sushi rolls.

Pro Tip: For minimizing ecological impact, Seafood Watch also recommends avoiding caviar with wild sturgeon and choosing fish raised in recirculating aquariums.  

Masago: Nutrition Facts

In addition to being low in calories, Masago is rich in many essential nutrients.

100 grams Masago roll contains:

Total lipid (fat)5.22g
Carbohydrates, by the difference20g
Fiber, total dietary0.9g
Sugars, total including NLEA3.48g
Iron, Fe0.31g
Sodium, Na435mg
Vitamin C, total ascorbic acid1mg
Vitamin A, IU0mg
Fatty acids, total saturated0.87mg
Fatty acids, total trans0IU
Source: FoodData Central

Masago: Health Benefits

Masago's Health Benefits

Reduces arthritis symptoms: People living with rheumatoid arthritis may benefit from omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like Masago because they reduce symptoms of inflammation throughout the body.

Healthy eyes: In foods like Masago, omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in retinal development. Omega-3 fatty acids significantly contribute to the development of the eyes in babies and young children, although their exact role in eye health is not fully understood.‌

Healthy bones: In addition to vitamin D, Masago contains lots of calcium, preventing bone loss and fractures over time. Scientists even recommend vitamin D supplements to treat osteoporosis.

Healthy heart: Masago is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help the body make the hormones needed to control blood clotting and prevent inflammation of the heart’s arteries.

Tip: Researchers have discovered that those who eat more omega-3 fats are less likely to suffer from heart disease.‌

Masago: Risks and Side Effects

Fish roe, such as Masago, can cause allergic reactions, but they are uncommon. Immediately discontinue the use of Masago if you experience any negative food allergy symptoms like hives, itching, or swelling after eating it.

Also, one tablespoon of Masago contains about 10 percent of the recommended daily value of sodium. If you have high blood pressure, heart problems, or kidney problems, be sure to keep your sodium intake in moderation.

When storing frozen food, it is generally recommended to keep it frozen and move it to the refrigerator only when ready to use it. It stays fresh for only three or four days in the refrigerator, but it can last up to six months in the freezer.


The edible eggs of the capelin fish are called Masago or smelt roe. Protein and nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, and vitamin B12 are abundant in eggs.

You should avoid roe products that contain added salt, MSG, or high fructose corn syrup and limit your consumption if you have high blood pressure or are allergic to seafood.

Tip: To take advantage of Masago To take advantage, try adding this nutrient-rich power food to spring rolls, sauces, or seafood pasta.

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