Known as a luxurious seafood delicacy, caviar is the roe, or eggs, of different varieties of sturgeon fish. The most common varieties are osetra, beluga, kaluga, sevruga, sterlet, and hackleback.

Caviar’s color and size vary depending on the variety. Typically, it looks like small pearls in colors ranging from pale green to black.

And while salmon roe is often referred to as red caviar, it’s not true caviar.

Caviar has a slimy texture and a salty, fishy taste, and it pops in your mouth. It’s typically served in small amounts on its own, as a garnish, or on top of plain crackers, cucumber slices, or toast that won’t overpower its mild ocean flavor.

Besides being a culinary experience, enjoying this delicacy may provide numerous health benefits.

Here are six health benefits of caviar that are backed by science.

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Even when served in small amounts, caviar boasts an impressive nutritional profile.

A 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of caviar provides (1):

  • Calories: 75
  • Protein: 7 grams
  • Fat: 5 grams
  • Carbs: 1 gram
  • Vitamin B12: 236% of the Daily Value (DV)
  • Selenium: 34% of the DV
  • Iron: 19% of the DV
  • Sodium: 18% of the DV

As you can see, just one serving packs more than double your daily vitamin B12 needs. Vitamin B12 is essential for the development and function of your nervous system, as well as the production of DNA and red blood cells (2).

A single serving of caviar also provides small amounts of calcium and vitamins A, D, and E (1).

Lastly, this delicacy is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids called eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Perhaps surprisingly, these fatty acids are behind most of its potential health benefits.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that you get 250 mg of EPA and DHA each per day. Conveniently, a 1-ounce (28-gram) serving of caviar provides 800 mg of EPA and 1,080 mg of DHA, which more than covers the recommended amounts (1, 3).

Summary

Caviar is an excellent source of vitamin B12 and the fatty acids DHA and EPA. It also provides selenium, iron, and sodium, among other vitamins and minerals.

Being rich in omega-3 fatty acids, caviar has been studied for its skin health benefits.

A recent test-tube study suggested that DHA from caviar extract may stimulate adipocytes — or fat cells — to produce adiponectin (4).

Adiponectin is a molecule that improves your skin’s wound-healing and anti-inflammatory processes, promotes collagen synthesis, and prevents the breakdown of collagen fibers (4).

Because collagen is important for your skin structure, researchers believe its extract may reduce signs of skin aging (4).

Further, a 12-week study in 35 women with mild to moderate signs of skin aging observed that a serum containing caviar extract and other ingredients improved skin smoothness, firmness, and dryness along with fine lines and crow’s feet (5).

However, it’s unknown whether administering caviar extract on its own would have the same effects (5).

Ultimately, because research in this field is limited to the use of caviar extracts in test-tube studies or in humans in combination with other ingredients, further research is needed to better understand the skin benefits of eating fresh caviar.

Summary

Caviar’s DHA content may help reduce wrinkles and other signs of skin aging, although further research in this field is needed.

Maintaining a healthy mind is important throughout life. Promisingly, research suggests that EPA improves mood disorders and DHA maintains brain structure. Thus, the omega-3 fatty acids in caviar may promote brain and mental health (6).

Omega-3 fatty acids are key elements of brain cell membranes that help fight inflammation. Researchers have speculated that reducing inflammation in the brain can reduce mental health decline seen in Alzheimer’s disease (6, 7).

Additionally, studies have found that people with depression often have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids, suggesting that a lack of this nutrient may be a risk factor for depression (8, 9, 10).

Some research even suggests that supplementing with 1–2 grams of omega-3s per day may provide antidepressant effects with no serious side effects or interactions with common antidepressant medications (10, 11).

While some studies suggest that supplementing with EPA may be best for treating depression, others have found a combination of EPA and DHA — as found in caviar — to be more effective (11, 12).

Keep in mind that not all studies conclude that omega-3s provide antidepressant effects, and no studies directly link caviar with brain and mental health. More research is needed on these topics.

Summary

The omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA, both abundant in caviar, may reduce the risk of depression and mental health decline. However, to date, no studies have directly investigated the effects of eating caviar on brain health.

Omega-3 fatty acids are being used more and more to prevent and manage risk factors for heart disease, the leading cause of death in the United States (13, 14).

Research suggests they improve risk factors by (15, 16, 17):

  • Lowering blood pressure. Omega-3s may reduce heart rate and tightness of blood vessels to lower blood pressure.
  • Improving blood cholesterol levels. Omega-3s may lower blood triglyceride levels and increase HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  • Preventing platelet aggregation. Omega-3s prevent platelets in your blood from clumping together and forming clots, a risk factor for stroke.

As a rich marine source of omega-3 fatty acids, caviar may provide these benefits without negatively affecting standard drug therapies (15, 16, 17, 18).

That said, studies directly linking caviar intake with improved heart health in humans are needed.

Summary

Caviar is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids that reduce heart disease risk factors. However, human studies specifically investigating the link between caviar intake and heart health are needed.

Research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids play a crucial role in male fertility (19).

Sperm has a particularly high DHA content, and studies suggest that low DHA levels may be associated with low sperm quality. In fact, DHA deficiency is typical in men with infertility (19, 20).

On the contrary, fertile men tend to have higher blood and sperm levels of omega-3 fatty acids (21).

Eating more omega-3-rich foods may improve sperm structure, shape, and fluidity, which may help sperm bind more easily to eggs to increase fertility (19, 21, 22).

For example, one rodent study looked at the effects of a caviar-derived product on sperm quality and quantity, finding that it significantly increased sperm count, motility, and survival (22).

Still, further studies in humans are needed to fully understand omega-3 fatty acids’ effect on male fertility.

Summary

Again, due to its high omega-3 content, caviar may improve male fertility, although human studies are lacking.

Both omega-3 fatty acids and selenium in caviar may support your immune system.

Firstly, omega-3s reduce inflammation and restore the barrier function of your skin, intestines, and lungs, which helps block the passage of harmful bacteria to keep you healthy (23).

They also reduce pro-inflammatory markers, indicating that they fight inflammation. Plus, they may help repair damaged white blood-cells, which are immune cells that protect you from disease (23).

Secondly, selenium is important for starting and regulating immune responses (24).

Research shows that it increases antibody production and increases the activity of macrophages, a type of white blood cells that fight and remove harmful substances in your body (25).

Summary

Selenium and omega-3 fatty acids play important roles in immune health, and caviar is a good source of both nutrients.

Caviar is the eggs, or roe, harvested from certain sturgeon fish.

Besides being a delicacy, it’s highly nutritious, providing great amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and selenium, among other vitamins and minerals — even in small serving sizes.

If you’re looking for an excuse to eat caviar every once in a while, you’ll be pleased to know that it may benefit the health of your skin, brain, heart, and immune system. The omega-3s in caviar may also boost male fertility.

However, keep in mind that most research is based on test-tube or animal studies, often using extracts, and that studies in humans eating fresh caviar are needed to learn more about the effects.

We won’t let that stop us from enjoying it, though.