Halibut Nutrition Facts and Health Benefits

Halibut

Verywell / Alexandra Shytsman

Often called “fish for people who don’t like fish,” halibut is a mild, white flatfish of the genus Hippoglosus. These large swimmers reside in both the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, where they feed on everything from smaller fish to octopus. With a firm texture and large flakes, halibut cooks well as a fillet or steak and can hold up to cooking methods like grilling, frying, and pan-searing. 

In terms of nutrition, halibut offers a bounty of micronutrients—notably selenium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and niacin—and plenty of high-quality protein. It also contains just a hint of fat at 1 gram per serving, making it an ideal fish for those who need a low-fat diet.

Since the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise eating at least 8 ounces of seafood each week, halibut can make an excellent choice for getting more fish in your diet.

Halibut Nutrition Facts

This nutrition information, for 3 ounces (85 grams) of raw Atlantic or Pacific halibut, has been supplied by the USDA. 

  • Calories: 77
  • Fat: 1mg
  • Sodium: 58mg
  • Carbohydrates: 0g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Sugars: 0g
  • Protein: 16g

Carbs

Because it has no starches, fibers, or sugars, halibut contains zero carbohydrates. 

Fats

Prepared without oil or butter, halibut is an ultra-low-fat food at just 1 gram per serving. Although halibut doesn’t have the impressive omega-3 fatty acids of fellow fish like herring or salmon, 200 to 500 milligrams (20 to 50%) of its fat comes from heart-healthy omega-3s. 

Protein

Pacific and Atlantic halibut are a good source of protein. One 3-ounce serving provides 16 grams of this macronutrient—32% of the Daily Value.

Micronutrients

Halibut is rich in several important vitamins and minerals. Selenium stands out as its most abundant mineral, with 55% of the daily value in a 3-ounce serving. In the same amount of halibut, you’ll also take in high amounts of niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, phosphorus, and vitamin D. 

Health Benefits

Adding halibut to your diet can come with significant advantages for health. Here are a few.

May Reduce Inflammation

One of halibut’s primary micronutrients, selenium, is a known antioxidant. Antioxidants protect against oxidative damage, which can reduce inflammation in the body. 

Boosts Heart Health

Because selenium helps reduce inflammation, experts have suggested that it could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease (or death from this condition). In fact, an older meta-analysis from 2006 showed that the more selenium reserves people had, the less likely they were to experience coronary heart disease.

Additionally, some of halibut’s concentration of omega-3 fats come from EPA and DHA, which are associated with better cardiovascular health.

Suitable for Many Special Diets

It’s tough to find a special diet on which you can’t eat halibut. This fish is low-carb, low-fat, low-sodium, and free of gluten and dairy. Plus, it’s suitable for people on pescatarian, DASH, or Mediterranean diets. 

Beneficial for Pancreatitis and Gallbladder Disease 

Contrary to popular opinion in years gone by, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, healthy fats are necessary for a variety of bodily processes. However, a low-fat diet is necessary if you’re living with certain health conditions, such as pancreatitis or gallbladder disease. When this is the case, halibut makes a smart choice for the centerpiece of a meal.

Could Lower Risk of Diabetes

Halibut is an impressive source of magnesium, which offers an array of health benefits. For one, diets higher in magnesium have been associated with a significant reduction in diabetes risk. Experts believe this is because of magnesium’s role in glucose metabolism.

Allergies

Fish are one of the most common food allergens, so some people will need to steer clear of halibut. The good news, however, is that being allergic to one type of fish doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll have an allergy to all fish—nor does it mean you’re definitely allergic to shellfish.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, about 40% of people who develop a fish allergy won’t experience its onset until adulthood. If you develop symptoms like wheezing, hives, vomiting, or headaches after eating halibut, talk to your doctor about the possibility of an allergy to fish.

Adverse Effects

Many people have concerns about the mercury content in seafood. While halibut is not considered a high-mercury fish, it does contain some (low) levels of this toxin. Pregnant women in particular need to be careful about their intake of mercury, as it has been linked to damage to unborn babies’ brains and nervous systems.

Varieties

Although Atlantic and Pacific halibut live in different oceans, there’s not much that distinguishes them in terms of taste, texture, or best cooking practices. In recipes, they can be used interchangeably. 

You may also consider sustainability when selecting fish. According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, Pacific halibut are not considered overfished. Atlantic halibut fishing, on the other hand, is allowed only at reduced levels due to overfishing concerns.

When It’s Best 

You should be able to find halibut in the frozen case at your grocery store (and probably even at the meat counter) all year round. But if you like to eat with the seasons, take note: Pacific halibut season runs from March through November and Atlantic halibut can be caught throughout the year (though U.S. Atlantic halibut, often found off the coast of Maine, has a brief May-through-June season).

Storage and Food Safety

Benjamin Franklin once famously said that fish and houseguests begin to smell after three days. The founding father wasn’t wrong—you’ll want to use refrigerated halibut within one to two days of purchasing.

Freezing, of course, allows you to hang on to your halibut for a lot longer. Frozen fish can be kept for six to eight months.

How to Prepare

Because of its firm texture and sturdy flakes, halibut is a hardy fish that can be cooked with a variety of heat methods. You can grill, bake, pan-sear, or fry it. Its gentle flavor allows it to slip comfortably into fish tacos, soups, chowders, or fish and chips. For a simple starter recipe, bake fillets at 400 degrees (drizzled with olive oil, lemon juice, and any herbs and spices you prefer) for 12 to 15 minutes.

Halibut’s low fat content means it can dry out quickly. For this reason, some chefs recommend undercooking the fish just slightly. Still, it’s always safest to heat seafood to an internal temperature of 145 degrees Fahrenheit .

Recipes 

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