Benefits of Halibut

Benefits of Halibut:



Halibut is big. Not just in popularity and nutritional value, but also in size. It is actually one of the largest of all saltwater fishes and can weigh up to 155 pounds. Halibut can be found both in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, the Atlantic species being of larger size.
Halibut is delicious. With a slightly sweet yet mild flavor, it is a lean fish that features finely textured, snow white flesh.

Nutritional Benefits

Halibut is an excellent source of selenium, a very good source of protein, niacin, phosphorus and magnesium, and a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B6, vitamin B12 and potassium.

In-Depth Nutritional Profile
In addition to the nutrients highlighted in our ratings chart, an in-depth nutritional profile for Halibut is also available. This profile includes information on a full array of nutrients, including carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fiber, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.

Introduction to Food Rating System Chart
In order to better help you identify foods that feature a high concentration of nutrients for the calories they contain, we created a Food Rating System. This system allows us to highlight the foods that are especially rich in particular nutrients. The following chart shows the nutrients for which this food is either an excellent, very good, or good source (below the chart you will find a table that explains these qualifications). If a nutrient is not listed in the chart, it does not necessarily mean that the food doesn't contain it. It simply means that the nutrient is not provided in a sufficient amount or concentration to meet our rating criteria. (To view this food's in-depth nutritional profile that includes values for dozens of nutrients - not just the ones rated as excellent, very good, or good - please use the link below the chart.) To read this chart accurately, you'll need to glance up in the top left corner where you will find the name of the food and the serving size we used to calculate the food's nutrient composition.

This serving size will tell you how much of the food you need to eat to obtain the amount of nutrients found in the chart. Now, returning to the chart itself, you can look next to the nutrient name in order to find the nutrient amount it offers, the percent Daily Value (DV%) that this amount represents, the nutrient density that we calculated for this food and nutrient, and the rating we established in our rating system. For most of our nutrient ratings, we adopted the government standards for food labeling that are found in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's "Reference Values for Nutrition Labeling."

4.00 oz-wt
113.40 grams
158.76 calories
Nutrient Amount DV (%) Nutrient Density World's Healthiest
Foods Rating
tryptophan 0.34 g 106.2 12.0 excellent
selenium 53.07 mcg 75.8 8.6 excellent
protein 30.27 g 60.5 6.9 very good
vitamin B3 8.08 mg 40.4 4.6 very good
phosphorus 323.18 mg 32.3 3.7 very good
magnesium 121.34 mg 30.3 3.4 very good
omega-3 fats 0.62 g 25.8 2.9 good
vitamin B12 1.55 mcg 25.8 2.9 good
vitamin B6 0.45 mg 22.5 2.6 good
potassium 653.17 mg 18.7 2.1 good
World's Healthiest Foods Rating Rule
excellent DV>=75% OR Density>=7.6 AND DV>=10%
very good DV>=50% OR Density>=3.4 AND DV>=5%
good DV>=25% OR Density>=1.5 AND DV>=2.5%

Health Benefits

Halibut are truly a nutrient-dense food. A very good source of high quality protein, halibut are rich in significant amounts of a variety of important nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium; the B vitamins B12, niacin, and B6; and perhaps most important, the beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are so named because they are essential for our health but cannot be made by the body; they must therefore be obtained from foods. Cold-water fish like halibut are a rich source of the omega-3 essential fats, a form of essential fatty acids in which the standard American diet is sorely deficient. (The other form of essential fatty acids, the omega-6s, are plentiful in a variety of commonly consumed oils such as corn and safflower oil. In fact, the omega-6s are so plentiful in the typical American diet that too much omega-6 is consumed in proportion to omega-3s--an imbalance that promotes inflammation, thus contributing to virtually every chronic disease in which inflammation is a key component.)

Cardiovascular Health
Omega-3 fatty acids provide a broad array of cardiovascular benefits. Omega-3s benefit the cardiovascular system by helping to prevent erratic heart rhythms, making blood less likely to clot inside arteries (which is the ultimate cause of most heart attacks), and improving the ratio of good (HDL) cholesterol to potentially harmful (LDL) cholesterol. And, as mentioned above, omega-3s reduce inflammation, which is a key component in the processes that turn cholesterol into artery-clogging plaques.

Halibut is also a good source of vitamin B12 and vitamin B6--two B vitamins that, along with folic acid, lower levels of homocysteine. Homocysteine, an intermediate compound produced during the methylation cycle, is directly damaging to artery walls, and elevated blood levels of homocysteine are considered an important risk factor for atherosclerosis.

Last, but far from least, halibut is a very good source of magnesium. Magnesium is Nature's own calcium channel blocker. When enough magnesium's around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.

Protection against Fatal Heart Arrhythmia
A healthy way of eating that includes at least 10 ounces of omega-3-rich fish each week improves the electrical properties of heart cells, protecting against fatal abnormal heart rhythms, suggests a study from Greece.

"Long-term consumption of fish is associated with lower QT interval in free-eating people without any evidence of cardiovascular disease. Thus, fish intake seems to provide anti-arrhythmic protection at a population level," wrote the authors in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. (Chrysohoou C, et al.)

The QT interval is a measure of the heart's electrical cycle, from the beginning of ventricular depolarization, the Q wave, to the end of the T wave, at which point cardiac repolarization is complete.

A lower QT score indicates a lower resting heart rate. As a higher resting heart rate has been linked to an increased risk of sudden death, the result of approximately 50% of heart attacks, lowering the resting heart rate provides significant health benefit.

Researchers at the University of Athens enrolled 3,042 people (1,514 men, aged 18-87, and 1,528 women, aged 18-89), who used a validated food frequency questionnaire to record their food intake of 156 different foods. Along with alcohol consumption and physical activity were also recorded, and electrocardiography was used to measure several indexes of study participants' heart rate.

After the raw data scan, those who ate more than 10 ounces (300 grams) of fish per week were found to have QT scores 13.6% lower than people who did not eat fish.

After adjusting the results for potentially confounding factors such as age, sex, physical activity status, BMI, smoking habits and intake of nuts, the reduction in QT scores in those eating 10 or more ounces of fish each week rose to 29.2%, compared to those who did not eat fish.

Help Prevent and Control High Blood Pressure
Individuals whose diets provide greater amounts of omega-3 fatty polyunsaturated fatty acids and halibut is a very good source of these essential fats have lower blood pressure than those who consume less, shows data gathered in the International Study of Macro- and Micro-nutrients and Blood Pressure (INTERMAP) study (Ueshima H, Stamler J, et al. Hypertension).

The INTERMAP is a study of lifestyle factors, including diet, and their effect on blood pressure in 4,680 men and women aged 40 to 59 living in Japan, China, the U.S. and the U.K. Blood pressure was measured and dietary recall questionnaires were completed by participants on four occasions. Dietary data was analyzed for levels of omega-3 fatty acids from food sources including fish, nuts, seeds and vegetable oils.

Average daily intake of omega-3 fatty acids was 2 grams. Participants with a high (o.67% kcal) omega-3 fatty acid percentage of their daily calorie intake had an average systolic and diastolic blood pressure reading that was 0.55/0.57 mm Hg less, respectively, than participants with lower intake. Previous research has found that a decrease of 2 mm Hg reduces the population-wide average stroke mortality rate by 6 percent and that of coronary heart disease by 4%.

Higher omega-3 fatty acid intake among the 2,238 subjects who were not using drugs, supplements, or a special diet for hypertension, heart disease, or diabetes was associated with a 1.01/0.98 mm Hg reduction in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, respectively.

For the 2,038 subjects in this group who did not have hypertension, greater intake was associated with a 0.91/0.92 mm Hg average systolic and diastolic reduction.

Lead author Hirotsugu Ueshima, MD of Shiga University of Medical Science in Japan, noted that the beneficial effect of omega-3 fats was even greater in people who had not yet developed high blood pressure.

The researchers also found that omega-3s from nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils such as walnuts and flaxseed had just as much impact on blood pressure as omega-3s from fish.

"With blood pressure, every millimeter counts. The effect of each nutrient is apparently small but independent, so together they can add up to a substantial impact on blood pressure. If you can reduce blood pressure a few millimeters from eating less salt, losing a few pounds, avoiding heavy drinking, eating more vegetables, whole grains and fruits (for their fiber, minerals, vegetable protein and other nutrients) and getting more omega-3 fatty acids, then you've made a big difference," said Ueshima.

Fish, Fruit and Vegetables Protective against Deep Vein Thrombosis, Pulmonary Embolism Deep vein thrombosis is a dangerous condition in which blood clots develop in the deep veins of the legs, thighs or pelvis, causing swelling and pain. An embolism is created if a part or all of the blood clot in the deep vein breaks off from the site where it was created and moves through the venous system. If the clot lodges in the lung, a very serious condition, pulmonary embolism, arises.

Fortunately, a healthy way of eating offers significant protection, as demonstrated by a prospective study over 12 years that involved almost 15,000 middle-aged adults. While those eating the most red and processed meat doubled their risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), those in the upper 3 quintiles of fruit and vegetable intake had a 41-53% lower risk of DVT. And those eating fish, such as halibut, at least once each week were found to have a 30-45% lower DVT risk. (Steffen LM, Folsom AR, et al.,Circulation) Practical Tip: For protection against deep vein thrombosis, increase your consumption of fruit and vegetables; eat fish at least once a week; and decrease consumption of red and processed meats.

Promote Detoxification
In addition to halibut's omega-3s, the selenium it contains is a necessary component in one of the body's most important antioxidants--glutathione peroxidase--which is critical for a healthy liver, the organ responsible for detoxifying and clearing potentially harmful compounds such as pesticides, drugs, and heavy metals from the body. Selenium also helps prevent cancer and heart disease.

Omega-3-Rich Fish Protective against Colorectal Cancer
A diet rich in the omega-3 fats found in cold water fish, such as halibut, greatly reduces risk of colorectal cancer, indicates a study comparing 1,455 subjects with colorectal cancer to 1,455 matched healthy controls.

Those whose diets provided the most omega-3s had a 37% reduction in colorectal cancer risk, compared to those whose diets provided the least. Colorectal cancer risk was 41% lower in those with the highest average intake of EPA, and 37% lower in those whose diets supplied the most DHA. (Theodoratou E, McNeill G, et al., Am J Epidemiol.).

Practical Tip: Each of the World's Healthiest Foods' fish is a good to excellent source of omega-3s. Let our Recipe Assistant provide you with delicious, quick ways to add more omega-3s to your healthy way of eating.

Consumption Tips

After you unwrap your fish, rinse it under cool running water, then pat dry before cooking.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas
  • Make fish tacos by wrapping Healthy Saute ed onion, garlic, halibut, tomatillo salsa, and guacamole in a corn tortilla.
  • Simmer halibut in a small amount of fish or vegetable broth with fresh herbs. Season to taste.
  • Serve broiled halibut over a bed of greens and top with your favorite dressing.
  • Skewer marinated chunks of halibut and your favorite vegetables and broil. Brush with garlic olive oil when done.


  • It is recommended that pregnant women and women of childbearing age who might become pregnant should stay away from halibut and other sea food as they are mercury contaminated. High levels of mercury in blood can harm their fetuses with symptoms like joint pain, fatigue, decreased memory and headache.
  • Halibut contain naturally-occurring substances called purines that can cause health problems to people susceptible to it. Purines break down to form uric acid which can lead to gout and formation of kidney stones that can be related to excessive intake of purine-containing foods. Individuals with kidney problems or gout may want to limit or avoid its intake.
  • Allergic reaction can crop up with typically any food; hence people allergic to halibut should not eat them in their pure, isolated form as it might trigger an adverse reaction.

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