Caviar is a garnish or spread that consists of salt-cured fish-eggs. Caviar is considered a delicacy and typically small amounts of the eggs are eaten at a time. There are four main types of caviar that you might find: Beluga, Sterlet, Ossetra and Sevruga. Caviar is collected from the ovaries of female fish, traditionally commercial caviar production involved stunning the fish then extracting the ovaries containing all the eggs, or roe. Although a "no-kill" caviar harvesting technique has been gaining popularity. Then the caviar is treated with salt and canned. Caviar is extremely perishable and should be kept refrigerated until consumption. You can also purchase some pasteurized caviar that is considered of "lesser quality" and will have a slightly different texture, but may not require refrigeration prior to opening.
Nutritional Value of Caviar
1 tablespoon of Caviar
Fat: 3g / 4% DV
Carbohydrates: 1g / 0% DV
Protein: 4g / 8% DV
Sodium: 240mg / 10% DV
Vitamin B12: 3.2mcg / 53% DV
Selenium: 10.5mcg / 15% DV
Cholesterol: 94.1mg / 31% DV
Omega-3 fatty acids: 1.086 g
Health Benefits of Caviar
- The American Heart Association recommends trying to get 1 gram of omega-3 fatty acids every day for optimal heart health and a single tablespoon of caviar contains more than 1g! Omega-3 fatty acids are highly unsaturated fatty acids. They are linked to helping reducing blood clotting in the arteries and protecting the arteries from hardening due to build up. This can lead to a reduction in your risk of heart attacks, strokes and blocked blood vessels. They may also lower levels of triglycerides and blood pressure.
- B12 is a vitamin that is responsible for making red blood cells and helping your body use fatty acids. This can be a hard nutrient for vegetarians and vegans to get enough of because it is a water-soluble vitamin and you need to consume some every day.
- Selenium is also found in caviar. It works as an antioxidant with vitamin E to protect cells from damage caused by free radicals and other compounds in the body that may lead to heart disease and even cancer. Selenium is an important trace mineral in helping boost immune function and supporting cell growth.
- Although there is some contention on dietary cholesterol affecting blood cholesterol levels, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a number of other health experts still recommend keeping dietary cholesterol to a minimum. Just one tablespoon of caviar contains approximately one third of all the dietary cholesterol you are recommended to consume in a day.
- Ethical treatment of the fish is a concern for some. If you are concerned, consider looking for brands that state that they use the "no-kill" harvesting method of collecting eggs.
- Although low in mercury and listeria, for pregnant women consuming unpasteurized caviar can still hold a risk. Consult your doctor on acceptable levels.
Emily DeLacey MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian and currently working in Jamaica as a HIV/ AIDS Prevention Specialist. She attended Central Washington University for her Bachelor's Degree in Science and Dietetics and continued on after her internship to Kent State University for her Master's Degree in Science and Nutrition, with a focus on public health and advocacy. She served as a U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer in Malawi 2012-2014 working as a Community Health Advisor in a rural village, immersing in the joys of life without electricity or running water. She has been to 20+ countries and 47 of the 50 states in the US. Traveling, adventuring and experiencing new cultures has made her a passionate advocate for the equality of nutrition and wellness for all people.