Healthy Benefits from Humble Herrings

Herring Swarming in a BallThe humble herring is one fish that deserves a closer look. It’s a versatile, healthy and convenient food that can be consumed out of the can as a snack, or as part of a meal.

Roaming in huge schools across the Atlantic, North and Baltic seas, this little fish became a staple in almost all of Europe’s diverse culinary traditions a millennium ago (read more on the herring’s historical role in Mark Kurlansky’s great book Salt: A World History). Many Christians (and those who want to focus on lighter healthier fare) use the Lenten month traditionally devoted to fasting and reflection to rediscover fish at the center of their dinner plates—from fried herring toasts as a lean March dinner to  gefillte fish on Passover or carp on Good Friday (Karfreitag).

Highly Nutritious

Many Germans enjoy pickled or canned herring once a week, and so should you. In 2022, the FDA published an advisory for pregnant women and parents on the healthiest fish to consume. Herring is in the top bracket and the FDA recommends eating herring (and other “superfish”) three times a week. While fresh herring has the most nutritional benefits, canned herring is also full of antioxidants, Omega 3 fatty acids and other valuable nutrients. This beneficial nutritional profile is shared by herring’s North Sea and Baltic Sea cousins sprat (Kieler Sprotte), mackerel, and sardines.

An Advisory from the FDA about Fish Consumption

According to the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung (The German Nutrition Society (DGE), a typical nutrition profile for herring products in oil has a ton of great nutrients:

(Herring in Oil in 100 gr. tin)

  1. Energy 335 kcal
  2. Fat 31.3 g
  3. Carbohydrates 0 g
  4. Protein 14.3 g
  5. Water 51.3 g
  6. Retinol equivalency 16.0 µg
  7. Vitamin A (Retinol) 15.0 µg
  8. ß-Carotin 4.00 µg
  9. Vitamin D (Calciferol) 18.0 µg
  10. Vitamin E (Tocopherol) 13.4 mg
  11. Vitamin K 1.00 µg
  12. Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) 25.0 µg
  13. Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 99.0 µg
  14. Niacinäquivalent 4.47 mg
  15. Pantothenic acid 516 µg
  16. Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxin) 166 µg
  17. Biotin 6.00 µg
  18. Total folic acids 3.00 µg
  19. Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) 5.00 µg
  20. Vitamin C (Ascorbin acid) 384 µg
  21. Natrium 854 mg
  22. Kalium 283 mg
  23. Calcium 50.0 mg
  24. Magnesium 27.0 mg
  25. Phosphor 199 mg
  26. Chlor 1.29 g
  27. Iron 871 µg
  28. Zinc 777 µg
  29. Copper 253 µg
  30. Mangan 20.0 µg
  31. Fluorided 275 µg
  32. Iodium 23.0 µg
  33. Fiber 0 g
  34. Saccharose 0 g
  35. Cholesterol 72.0 mg
  36. alcoho 0 g
  37. saturated fatty acids 4.69 g
  38. Omega-3 Fettsäuren 1.81 g
  39. Omega-6 Fettsäuren 12.2 g


Recipes Featuring Herring
Fishing for a Healthy Heart