Pollock Fish Benefits, Nutrition and How to Cook - Dr. Axe

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Pollock: A High-Protein Fish that Can Boost Weight Loss Efforts


Pollock fish - Dr. Axe

With plenty of protein and over 100 percent of the vitamin B12 you need each day, pollock fish is an omega-3 food worth adding to your diet.

You may not recognize the name, but at some point in your life, you’ve probably eaten pollock fish. Because of the population size and catching techniques, it’s an incredibly common fish to eat in North America. At least, McDonald’s thought so — pollock fish is now used for all the fried Filet-O-Fish® sandwiches the chain sells and is sourced from sustainable fisheries. It’s also the fish in between layers of breading of the fish sticks many of our moms kept in the freezer while we grew up.

Of course, prepackaged, processed varieties are fish you should never eat, but don’t let that deter you from developing a love for pollock. This fish is good even when it’s not fried beyond recognition.

Not only is it delicious, but the nutrients found in it are incredibly beneficial to your body. For instance, thanks to its high nutrient profile, pollock can help combat heart disease, improve brain health and more.

What Is Pollock?

There are two basic types of pollock fish. First there is Pollachius pollachius, or Atlantic pollock. The second is known as the Alaskan pollock or the walleye pollock, and it belongs to another genus completely, Gadus chalcogrammus.


While their names are often used interchangeably, Alaskan pollock contains less nutrients per serving than the Atlantic variety. The fish look very similar from the outside, and both have a fairly “un-fishy” taste.

This fish provides a soft, white meat that’s delicious when used in fillet form. You may also find it in imitation crab meat, very popular in Japan as a low-cost alternative to real crab.

Nutrition Facts

Pollock fish is one of the healthier fish to eat, as it’s high in protein yet low in fat and calories. It contains an incredible number of nutrients. In just one serving, you’ll eat an entire day’s worth of vitamin B12 and almost half the day’s recommended value of selenium and phosphorus, a powerful mineral that helps build strong bones and detoxify your body.

One feature of fish that makes them so useful in a healthy diet is the high amount of omega-3s they include, especially two major types known as EPA and DHA. Pollock fish contain similar amounts per gram of these fatty acids as Atlantic cod.

The EPA and DHA in pollock fish have a large number of health benefits ranging from boosting brain health to avoiding macular degeneration to reducing chronic inflammation. That’s why the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture, American Heart Association, and American Dietetic Association all recommend you eat fish at least twice a week to reap the benefits they offer.

In addition to omega-3s, pollock fish contain several nutrients that act as antioxidants, fighting free radical damage to help with the general prevention of disease.

One raw pollock fish fillet (177 g) contains about:

  • Calories: 99
  • Total Carbohydrates: 0 g
  • Fiber: 0 g
  • Sugar: 0 g
  • Total Fat: 0.7 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.2 g
  • Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.3 g
  • Monounsaturated Fat: 0.1 g
  • Trans Fat: 0 g
  • Protein: 21.8 g
  • Cholesterol: 62.9 mg
  • Sodium: 589 mg (26% DV*)
  • Vitamin B12: 2.88 mcg (120% DV)
  • Selenium: 28.1 mcg (51% DV)
  • Phosphorus: 503 mg (40% DV)
  • Riboflavin (vitamin B2): 0.142 mg (11% DV)
  • Niacin: 1.16 mg (7% DV)
  • Magnesium: 28.5 mg (7% DV)
  • Vitamin B6: 0.122 mg (7% DV)
  • Potassium: 283 mg (6% DV)
  • Zinc: 0.549 mg (5% DV)

*Daily Value: Percentages are based on a diet of 2,000 calories a day.

Is Pollack Good for You?

As you can see, pollock appears to be a healthy fish with its many nutrients in addition to being high in protein, plus low in fat and calories. But how safe is it to eat?

When figuring out what seafood items you can safely eat, the amount of mercury it contains is a big issue. Fortunately, according to the FDA, pollock contains a very safe, low level of mercury that should be of little concern for most people.

Another question comes in terms of the sustainability and environmental impact of particular fish types. Unlike salmon and many other commercial seafoods, all pollock fish are wild-caught and never farmed. There are several dangers of farmed fish, including antibiotics, pesticides, various chemical contaminations and a larger, major risk of permanently harming the environment.

According to the National Marine Fisheries Service, informally known as NOAA Fisheries, U.S. wild-caught Atlantic pollock is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.

Meanwhile, Seafood Watch recommends that consumers buy pollock and walleye pollock certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC). Most Alaska pollock is MSC-certified. Always check labels to ensure you’re purchasing pollock caught in a sustainable area.


1. Improves cholesterol and protects against heart disease

Perhaps one of the most well-researched benefit of the nutrients in pollock fish is the way they protect the heart and circulatory system.

One animal study showed that pollock is a cholesterol-lowering food, as regularly eating pollock fish helped control cholesterol levels that can lead to heart disease. Because it’s so high in vitamin B12 and vitamin B6, it can also help your body lower high homocysteine levels, an amino acid found in the blood that’s considered an important risk factor for heart disease.


Pollock fish are also high in selenium, a mineral that’s inversely associated with risk for cardiovascular disease, meaning that the less selenium found in your blood, the higher your risk for coronary heart disease probably is.

There’s also a high level of omega-3 fatty acids found in each serving of pollock. There are two major omega-3s that are closely linked with heart health: eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Less studied, but also seemingly significant the more they’re researched, are long-chain monounsaturated fatty acids (LCMUFAs). Together, high amounts of consumed EPA, DHA and LCMUFAs are associated with a generally lowered risk of heart disease.

More specifically, EPA and DHA are able to lower blood pressure and high triglycerides, doing the latter without raising LDL (“bad” cholesterol) levels.

2. Assists in weight loss efforts

A 2019 study that encompassed intervention trials and animal studies suggested that frequent intake of lean seafood, as compared with intake of land-based meats, reduced energy intake by up to 9 percent. This was sufficient to prevent a positive energy balance and obesity.

Compared to meats, lean seafood like pollock can reduce the possibility of insulin resistance. In addition, “energy restriction combined with intake of lean and fatty seafood seems to increase weight loss.”

Eating pollock fish is also beneficial for maintaining an exercise routine, as the protein, vitamin B2 and vitamin B12 it contains are useful in providing energy. Replacing carbohydrates with protein is known as one great way to lose weight fast.

3. May aid in cancer prevention

Another benefit to healthy fish like the pollock is thanks to the nutrients that help your body prevent the formation of cancer, making several types of fish cancer-fighting foods.

The omega-3s in fish seem to be associated with a lowered risk of colon, prostate and breast cancer. Selenium is also connected to a lower risk of cancer, specifically prostate, and has also been found to have the ability to slow the spread of cancer and repair damaged cells caused by the spread of this disease. (20)

Vitamin B2, referred to as riboflavin, behaves as an antioxidant and is also useful in preventing free radical damage linked to cancer development. Without proper levels of riboflavin, your body is unable to absorb the nutrients you eat properly, which could also be linked to the development of cancer. B2 has been found to help prevent colorectal cancer in women.

4. Supports brain and mental health

Fish like pollock can aid in the development and health of the brain in a large variety of different ways.

First, many of these nutrients are responsible for basic neural processes. Phosphorus is needed to maintain normal hormonal, emotional and neurological responses, and a deficiency of this mineral is linked with age-related cognitive decline.

The protein in pollock fish aids in normal learning and development because amino acids are required for focus and energy. Proteins also help make the neurotransmitters, hormones and enzymes necessary for brain function.

Finally, vitamin B12 is associated with mood improvement. B12 also may help protect against memory decline.

5. May be useful in treating anemia

Since pollock fish contains high amounts of several B-complex vitamins, it can be used as part of an anemia-fighting diet.

Vitamin B2 is used in the steroid hormone synthesis process and is also useful in the process of transporting oxygen to different bodily cells. B2 reduces high homocysteine levels, also a related factor in the development of anemia.

The body uses vitamin B6 to create hemoglobin in the blood, important for oxygen transportation and the mobilization of iron. Your body also needs significant amounts of vitamin B12 in order to facilitate the production of red blood cells. Vitamin B12 is known specifically to help prevent a chronic form of anemia known as megaloblastic anemia.

7. May help diabetes patients

High-protein foods, like pollock fish, along with foods high in omega-3s, are one part of a diabetic diet plan. The omega-3s found in fish help reduce complications of diabetes, like cognitive deficits and vision-related symptoms.

8. Keeps skin and hair healthy

The last major benefit found in pollock fish is the way it helps your skin and hair remain healthy and vibrant. Omega-3s contribute by keeping skin elastic and preventing wrinkles. A deficiency in DHA and EPA can lead to skin conditions, such as psoriasis, eczema, age/sun spots, thinning hair and even dandruff.

Vitamin B12, which is responsible for cell production in many ways, also keeps your hair and skin strong and healthy. One way it achieves this is by reducing inflammation, redness and dryness.

Finally, vitamin B2 helps in the production of collagen, which contributes to the elasticity of skin. By eating a diet rich in B2, you can help your skin heal faster, chap less and stay young.

How to Find the Best Pollock

Because of the process by which these fish are retrieved, by trawling the seabed, it’s important to buy pollock that has been sustainably fished. Fortunately, most organizations recognize the vast majority of pollock fishing to be sustainable.

Most grocery stores in the U.S. and Canada carry pollock fish fillets. It’s a soft, white meat that isn’t often “fishy” smelling. It can also be purchased in other forms, such as surimi or roe, to be used as imitation crab.

When buying pollock, try to find fresh products caught within the last 48–72 hours, and be cautious of smell. Anything that smells strongly fishy should be avoided. You can also purchase frozen varieties, but try to stick to reputable companies when making your purchase.

How to Cook

Many commercial food companies use pollock as part of fried fish sticks or as part of processed fish sandwiches. Instead, try steaming or frying it in a healthy fat, such as coconut or avocado oil. Don’t broil it, as you’re likely to end up with dry fish unless you calculate the time exactly right.

It’s also great to try in small, bite-size pieces that can be made as replacement fish sticks (without the processed breading). You can also pan-fry your pollock fish fillets with avocado oil and sliced onions, then add some depth of flavor with potato, red peppers and tomatoes.

Risks and Side Effects

Remember that not all pollock fish is created equal. Like most seafood products, it’s important to make informed purchases as a consumer and only purchase sustainably and safely sourced fish.

You should also avoid the overly processed versions in packaged and frozen foods, like fish sticks. Instead, go with fresh or frozen fillets that you can prepare in healthy recipes.

Final Thoughts

  • Pollock fish often has a bad reputation because of its use in fast food and processed items, but when prepared and eaten healthily, it’s a great addition to a protein-rich lifestyle diet.
  • Like all fish, it should be consumed in moderation (once or twice a week at most) because of the potential for mercury contamination and fishing sustainability, although it’s a fairly sustainable and mercury-free fish by most accounts.
  • The nutrients in pollock aid your body in a large variety of ways, most notably by preventing heart disease, aiding in the treatment of cancer, keeping your brain functioning at high levels, and potentially helping prevent or treat anemia.
  • The best preparation methods for pollock are steaming or pan-frying. Avoid broiling/baking, as it’s very easy to dry out the fillets.

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