Tuna vs Mackerel In-Depth Comparison: Which Is Better?

Both tuna and mackerel are extremely delicious and have many health benefits. Tuna and mackerel go well with vegetables (tomatoes, cucumbers, potatoes, zucchini), pasta, rice, greens, salads, and sandwiches. But what is the difference between tuna and mackerel? Do they taste different? Do they have different health benefits? See our ultimate guide on the main differences between tuna and mackerel and their in-depth comparison.

How is tuna different from mackerel? Tuna is richer in protein (up to 25%), while mackerel is fatter (up to 20%). Mackerel has more calories — 305 kcal/100g, and tuna has 130 kcal. Tuna is rich in vitamins A, E, B6, B12, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, iron, and iodine, while mackerel is rich in vitamins B12, fluorine, zinc, and sulfur. 

Difference Between Tuna and Mackerel

What’s better, tuna or mackerel? In terms of taste, mackerel is sweeter and fatter than tuna, which is milder and has a light creamy texture. In terms of useful properties, mackerel and tuna are both high in essential fatty acids. Tuna has more Vitamin A, B1, B3, and protein than tuna. Mackerel is richer in Sodium and Vitamin B12. 

Mackerel is rich in easily digestible protein, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins A, D, group B (especially B12). This fish is rich in phosphorus, potassium, fluorine, zinc, sulfur, sodium, selenium and other macro-and microelements. The fat content of mackerel meat can reach up to 20%, depending on the time and place of fishing. In spring mackerel, the fat content is low, and in autumn, it is maximum.

Tuna has a high protein content, the amount of which can be up to 26%. The composition of tuna includes polyunsaturated fatty acids Omega-3 and Omega-6, essential amino acids, vitamins A, D, E, group B (B1, B2, B3, B4, B6, B12), macro-and microelements such as phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sodium, iron, iodine, selenium and other trace elements.

Tuna vs Mackerel Taste

Does mackerel taste like tuna? Mackerel tastes similar to tuna. However, mackerel is sweeter and fatter. Tuna has a mild, creamy taste and extremely delicate texture. Mackerel is similar to salmon and is creamier than tuna due to its higher fat content. Tuna is oily as well with no fishy flavor. 

The tuna’s abdomen has the most delicious flesh and is fatter and darker. The abdominal flesh is divided into several categories depending on the location of the meat and the concentration of fat. The fattest spot is in the head area, followed by the middle bold portion and the tail bold portion. The fatter the meat, the paler its color.

Mackerel‘s flesh is very oily and has more fat than tuna. Mackerel is very popular due to its pleasant delicate spicy taste and lack of small bones. Among gourmets, king mackerel is most valued for its nutritional quality. However, not everyone likes this fish because of its specific taste and bright smell of fish oil, which is abundant in mackerel.

What does tuna taste like? Tuna has a mild, creamy taste and soft, juicy texture. Tuna has no fishy smell, has a refreshing and subtle flavor, and in terms of taste, reminds salmon. Tuna is oily and tender and goes well with vegetables (tomatoes, potatoes, zucchini), pasta, and rice and is added to risotto, pies, and pizza. 

See also: Beef from the Sea —What Does Tuna Taste Like?

What Does Tuna Go With?

  • Dairy Products: Cheese (Cheddar, Edam, Parmesan, Mozzarella, Feta), milk, cream, butter.
  • Sauces: mayonnaise, teriyaki, soy, salsa.
  • Herbs: parsley, onion, celery, lettuce, dill, green beans, coriander, mint, nori.
  • Spices and seasonings: ginger, sesame seeds, rosemary, thyme, ground pepper, basil, caraway seeds, mustard.
  • Vegetables: capers, tomatoes, peas, potatoes, bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, zucchini.
  • Oil: olive, sesame.
  • Fruits: avocado, pineapple, citrus.
  • Pasta, rice.
  • Alcohol: white wine.

See also: Awesome Tips to Make Tuna Taste Better. What Does Tuna Go With?

What does mackerel taste like? Fresh mackerel has a sweet taste and extremely juicy, tender yet firm texture due to its high fat content. Mackerel is similar to tuna and salmon, but it is richer and more flavorful. Mackerel has a particularly mild oily taste and goes well with pasta, and green vegetables, and is used for pizza and sandwiches. 

What Does Mackerel Go With?

  • Herbs: lettuce, parsley, celery, dill.
  • Fruits: citrus, sour apple.
  • Vegetables: onions, carrots, potatoes, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, zucchini.
  • Oil: vegetable, sesame.
  • Dairy products: cheese, sour cream, milk.
  • Sauces: mayonnaise, sour cream, tomato.
  • Condiments, spices: pepper, bay leaf, cloves, nutmeg, coriander.
  • Mushrooms: porcini, oyster mushrooms.
  • Pasta, rice.

Tuna vs. Mackerel Nutrition

What is better for you, tuna or mackerel? Both tuna and mackerel are very good for health, yet tuna contains more protein, which is indispensable for healthy muscles, organs, skin, and hair. Mackerel has more fats, Vitamin B12, and Sodium necessary for healthy blood cells, muscles, nerves, and blood pressure control. 

Mackerel Health Benefits

  • Reduces the likelihood of cancer.
  • Has a beneficial effect on the cardiovascular system, promotes the formation of hemoglobin in the blood, helps transport oxygen in the body, and lowers cholesterol levels.
  • Normalizes the digestive system.
  • Improves memory.
  • Strengthens the nervous system, helps protect against stress and depression.
  • Improves metabolism and normalizes hormones.
  • Helps to fight diabetes.
  • Strengthens bone tissue.
  • Has a positive effect on the condition of the skin and hair.

Tuna Health Benefits

See also: Is Tuna Good For Your Skin and Hair?

Tuna vs. Mackerel Comparison Table Nutritional Value

  Mackerel Tuna
Calories 305 132
Protein 18 g 24.5 g
Carbohydrates 0 g 0 g
Fat 13.2 g 4.6 g

Tuna vs. Mackerel Comparison Table Vitamin Content

  Mackerel Tuna
Vitamin A 0.01 mg 0.02 mg
Vitamin B1 0.12 mg 0.28 mg
Vitamin B2 0.36 mg 0.23 mg
Vitamin B3 8.6 mg 10.7 mg
Vitamin B3 (Niacin, PP) 11.6 mg 15.5 mg
Vitamin B5 0.9 mg 0
Vitamin B6 0.8 mg 0.8 mg
Vitamin B9 9 μg 6 μg
Vitamin B12 0.012 mg 0
Vitamin C 1.2mg 0
Vitamin D 0.016 mg 0
Vitamin H (Biotin) 0.2 μg 0
Vitamin K 5 μg  0

Tuna vs. Mackerel Comparison Table Micro/Macro Element Content

Mackerel Tuna
Calcium 40 mg 30 mg
Magnesium 50 mg 30 mg
Sodium 100 mg 75 mg
Potassium 280 mg 350 mg
Phosphorus 280 mg 280 mg
Sulfur 180 mg 190 mg
Iron 1.7 mg 1 mg
Chlorine 170 mg 160 mg
Copper 0.21 mg 0.1 mg
Manganese 0.1 mg 0.13 mg
Fluorine 1.4 mg 1 mg
Iodine 0.045 mg 0.05 mg
Zinc 0.7 mg 0.7 mg
Chromium 0.055 mg 0.09 mg
Molybdenum 4 μg 4 μg
Cobalt 0.02 mg 0.04 mg
Nickel 6 μg 6 μg

Mackerel and tuna are contraindicated in case of individual intolerance. In addition,  young children and pregnant and lactating women should not eat much mackerel and tuna, but it is true for any food. Tuna is also not recommended for kidney failure. Enjoy mackerel, tuna, and other healthy foods in moderation. Health consists not only of proper nutrition but also of healthy sleep, physical activity, and other components.


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