Diet and Nutrition

What Is Mahi-Mahi?

What Is Mahi-Mahi?

Mahi-mahi is a ray-finned fish that belongs to the Coryphaenidae family. The term mahi-mahi means very strong in the Hawaiian language. This surface-dwelling fish is usually found in tropical, subtropical and temperate waters around the world. 

Although mahi-mahi is also commonly called as the common dolphinfish or dolphin, it is not closely related to dolphins, which are mammals. To lessen public confusion, the Hawaiian term mahi-mahi is used instead when referring to this species (Coryphaena hippurus). 

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Another name for mahi-mahi is dorado, which is a term used in some parts of the Pacific and South Africa. In the Mediterranean region of Malta, this fish is called lampuka.

Description

Mahi-mahi has a slender, colored, and compressed body along with a large blunt to steep head. Females can be distinguished from mature males due to their rounded heads. Mature males usually have noticeable protruding foreheads above their body. 

Mahi-mahi also has one long dorsal fin that extends from its head to almost its tail with sharply concave caudal fins. They have brilliant colors with iridescent blue pectoral fins and a golden color below with small dark spots on the sides. The color of their dorsal fin ranges from the dark shades of green to a dark blue hue. Their other fins usually have a yellowish-orange color. When mahi-mahi is out of the water, it can change its color to several hues before appearing yellowish-gray upon dying. 

The flesh of mahi-mahi is similar to sardines, which is oily and soft. They are also available all year round and are low in mercury, which makes them a healthier alternative than swordfish. 

How healthy is mahi-mahi?

Mahi-mahi or dolphinfish is a protein food according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Around 5-6 ounces of protein is needed by the body on a daily basis. An ounce of mahi-mahi is also equal to 1 ounce of protein. This mild flavored fish has a variety of essential nutrients with 93 calories on each 3-ounce serving. 

Pregnant women can even consume mahi-mahi since it is low in mercury. The calorie content in mahi-mahi can be compared to those in cod, flounder, halibut, and haddock. It also has fewer calories compared to tuna, salmon, and mackerel. 

Protein

Consuming mahi-mahi can contribute to your everyday protein intake. The body uses protein from the food you eat to be able to maintain the tissues in your body. Each 3-ounce serving of mahi-mahi has around 20 grams of protein. 

Mahi-mahi also contains all the essential amino acids you need, making it a complete source of protein. According to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, the regular consumption of mahi-mahi can help people achieve their target protein intake at 0.4 grams/lb of body weight. 

A person weighing 150 lbs. can get around one-third of his recommended daily protein intake from a 3-ounce serving of mahi-mahi. 

B Vitamins

Mahi-mahi is a good source of essential vitamins, especially vitamins B5 and B6. These B vitamins help the cells in the body to properly function by supporting cellular metabolism along with nourishing the skin and liver. 

  • Vitamin B6 - This B vitamin helps maintain the normal functioning of the brain by helping the body make neurotransmitters, which are brain chemicals that help regulate a person's mood, circadian rhythm (body clock), and other neurological processes. 
  • Vitamin B5 - This nutrient is vital to keep the nervous system healthy. Vitamin B5 helps produce energy that enables the firing of neurotransmitters in the brain. These neurotransmitters carry signals all over the body to maintain the proper functioning of each body system. 

Iron

Iron is a very important element when it comes to blood production. Without enough iron in the body, there is also insufficient hemoglobin in the red blood cells (RBCs). Hemoglobin is a substance found in RBCs that enables them to carry oxygen. Around 70 percent of iron in the body is found in the RBCs and in myoglobin (muscle cells). 

The regular consumption of mahi-mahi can help increase a person's iron intake. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), 3 ounces of mahi-mahi provides 1.2 mg of iron, which is approximately 15 percent of the daily iron requirement for men and 7 percent for women. 

Potassium and Selenium

Mahi-mahi is a great source of potassium, which helps balance fluids and minerals in the body, regulate blood pressure, energy levels, and digestion. This fish also provides 40 mcg of the mineral selenium, which has antioxidant properties. You can get 62 mcg of selenium and approximately 700 mg of potassium from 6 ounces of mahi-mahi.

These nutrients also help the body fight diseases:

  • Selenium - helps boost the function of the immune system and helps maintain the proper functioning of the thyroid gland. 
  • Potassium - helps fight hearts disease and helps regulate blood pressure. It also supports the normal functioning of the heart and muscles. 

Cooking Tips for Mahi-Mahi

Mahi-mahi is naturally sweet-tasting, which makes it ideal to be paired with herbs and fresh fruits. For this reason, mahi-mahi can add nutritional values to everyday meals without increasing your sodium and fat intake. 

To include mahi-mahi in your regular diet, you can try the following options:

  • Tropical Fruit Salsa - Dice papaya and cantaloupe. Add seeded jalapeno and chopped cilantro. For a more colorful option, you can also mix pitted cherries (chopped). 
  • Sweet and Spicy Salsa - Chopped pineapple or mango with jalapeno and cilantro. 

For healthier cooking, mahi-mahi can be broiled, baked, or grilled instead of being fried in oil. This fish can also be simply seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked until it easily flakes off. Healthy ingredients, such as steamed kale, lemon juice, and olive oil can also be included to add more flavor to any mahi-mahi recipe. 

Mahi-mahi has large and moist flakes with a moderately firm texture. Its skin is thick, so it should be removed before cooking. When shopping for mahi-mahi, look for those that have a translucent pink flesh with bright red bloodline. Checking the bloodline can help identify the freshness of the fish. You can tell if the fish is old if the bloodline appears dull or brownish in color. 

Key Takeaways

  • Mahi-mahi contains all the essential amino acids you need, making it a complete source of protein.
  • Mahi-mahi is a good source of essential vitamins, especially vitamins B5 and B6. 
  • Mahi-mahi is a great source of potassium, which helps balance fluids and minerals in the body, regulate blood pressure, energy levels, and digestion.