Is walleye A Good Fish To Eat | Health benefits | Nutrition

Walleye, renowned for its mild flavor and satisfyingly firm texture, has secured its place as a beloved freshwater catch. Beyond its culinary appeal, this fish offers notable nutritional benefits. The question is walleye a good fish to eat is a topic of considerable interest for seafood enthusiasts and health-conscious consumers alike. Yes , Walleye is also a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which are beneficial for heart health. Let’s talk about why it’s good to eat walleye and how to do it safely. We’ll also share tips to avoid things that can be harmful when eating fish.

Is walleye A Good Fish To Eat

Walleye Description

The walleye is a freshwater fish that many people like to catch and eat. It’s a long and skinny fish with gold and olive colors on its body and a white belly. You can see five or more black stripes on its back. Walleye have two kinds of fins on their back—one is spiky, and the other is soft. They have a big mouth with sharp teeth, and their eyes work well in low light, so they can see and catch prey at night. Walleye can grow to be about 2.5 to 3 feet long and weigh up to 10 to 20 pounds.

walleye fish

Check How To Catch Walleye?

Walleye Scientific Name and Meaning

The scientific name for this fish is Sander vitreus. The name “vitreus” comes from a Latin word that means glassy, and it’s because of their big, shiny eyes. In the world of science, they belong to the Actinopterygii class, the Perciformes order, the Percidae family, and the Luciopercinae subfamily.

Other Common Names

People have different names for the walleye. Some call it the dory, yellow pike, Walleye pike, yellow pickerel. Sometimes, it’s called yellow walleye to tell it apart from the extinct blue walleye. In Canada, some folks just call it pickerel, even though it’s not really related to the fish officially called pickerel. Walleye are actually a type of perch and also known as freshwater perch.

Walleye Prey

These fish are pretty flexible when it comes to their menu. Walleye eat a variety of things, from bugs and fish to worms. They especially like snacking on small fish, like minnows and young yellow perch. But they won’t say no to leeches, mayflies, or crayfish either. 

Walleye Facts

  • The walleye is proudly recognized as the official state fish in Vermont, South Dakota, Minnesota, and several Canadian provinces.
  • Walleye are night owls of the water, and their special eyes let them see really well even in dark lakes and rivers.
  • Walleye is a prized catch for anglers, and it’s gaining popularity as a commercial fish. You’ll also find it on the menu at many restaurants because of its delicious taste.
  • Walleye view the world in shades of red and green because their eyes don’t have blue and yellow pigments. This unique vision helps them see really well, especially in dark and cloudy waters.
  • Natural enemies of walleyes are largemouth bass, muskellunge, northern pike, ospreys, eagles and otters.
  • During breeding, male and female walleyes swim over gravel bottoms in lakes and rivers, releasing eggs and sperm into the water for fertilization. Female walleyes can lay up to 600,000 eggs per year, ensuring a healthy fish population in their habitats.
Walleye Fish Facts
Prey Fish, insectsColorWhite, Gold, Green
Group BehaviorSchoolSkin TypeScales
Fun FactHas great night visionTop Speed50 mph
Most Distinctive FeatureLarge, glassy eyesLifespan240 months
Other Name(s)Yellow pike, yellow pickerelWeight20lb
Gestation Period12-30 daysLength0.7m-0.9m (2.2ft-2.8ft)
HabitatLakes, streams, rivers
Humans, birds, fish

Walleye Fish Taste | Is walleye A Good Fish To Eat

Walleye is known for its one-of-a-kind taste. The fillets have small, delicate flakes and a subtle, sweet flavour with very little fishy taste. The texture is both firm and delicate, giving it a smooth, buttery feel in your mouth.

Walleye Fish Taste

There aren’t too many bones in walleye, which makes it a favorite for nearly everyone. Each fillet is thick and provides a satisfying portion that, when cooked properly, stays moist and turns a beautiful shade of pink when raw, but changes to white once it’s cooked. It’s a real treat for the taste buds!

Health Benefits of Walleye

Eating Walleye can be both yummy and good for your health! Walleye is a good source of several nutrients and vitamins that are important for human health, including:

Health Benefits of Walleye
  • Protein: Walleye is a good source of protein, which helps muscles grow and keeps our bodies working well. 
  • Omega-3 fatty acids: It’s also packed with omega-3 fatty acids, like EPA and DHA, which are good for our hearts, help with swelling, and make our brains work better. Moreover, research suggests that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids, like the ones found in walleye, may have extra benefits. It could potentially help lower feelings of anxiety and depression and decrease the risk of age-related issues like fatty liver and heart problems. 
  • Calories: Plus, walleye is not heavy on calories, so it’s a smart choice if you want to keep your weight in check while enjoying a tasty meal.
  • Vitamin B12: Important for our nerves and making red blood cells. Vitamin D: Helps our bones and immune system stay strong. 
  • Selenium: Boosting your immune system and helping your body deal              with cell damage as you get older.
  • Phosphorus: This vitamin plays a crucial role in building strong teeth and bones, and it also helps your body use fats and carbohydrates effectively.
  • Vitamin B6: This vitamin is known to enhance cognitive function, memory, and concentration. It may also play a role in reducing depression in adults.
  • Potassium: This nutrient is essential for keeping your muscles and nerves working smoothly and ensuring your body stays properly hydrated.
  • Zinc: Zinc is a powerful nutrient that plays a crucial role in regulating the immune system and metabolism. It also assists in wound healing and recovery. 
  • Magnesium: This nutrient plays a direct role in keeping your muscles and nerves working well and giving you the energy you need to stay active and alert.

Eating walleye can bring various health benefits:

  • Reduced Heart Disease Risk: The omega-3 fatty acids in walleye can lower blood pressure, decrease triglyceride levels, and improve cholesterol profiles. This, in turn, reduces the risk of heart disease and strokes.
  • Better Brain Health: Omega-3s are vital for brain development and function. They’re associated with improved cognitive abilities, memory, and mood.
  • Less Inflammation: Omega-3s also have anti-inflammatory properties, which can help alleviate inflammation in the body. This may benefit conditions like arthritis, asthma, and inflammatory bowel disease.
  • Stronger Bones: Walleye contains vitamin D, essential for bone health. It aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, crucial minerals for building and maintaining strong bones.

Preparing walleye

To maximize the nutritional benefits of walleye and ensure its safe consumption, follow these cooking Walleye safely guidelines:

  • Thawing the fish completely is essential to ensure even cooking. It’s best to thaw walleye in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. If you need to thaw it quickly, you can use the defrost function on your microwave or place the sealed fillets in a bowl of cold water.
  • Using a non-stick pan and a small amount of oil or butter is a great way to prevent the fish from sticking to the pan. It also helps in achieving a nice sear on the outside of the fillets.
  • Cook walleye until it reaches an internal temperature of 145°F (63°C) to ensure any potential pathogens or parasites are eliminated.
  • When baking or grilling walleye, use minimal added fats and seasonings to preserve its natural flavors and nutrients.
  • Avoid overcooking, as it can make the walleye dry and less flavorful. Aim for a tender and flaky texture to enjoy its best taste.
  • Walleye is versatile and can be paired with a variety of sides to create a balanced meal. Options like rice, potatoes (mashed, roasted, or fried), steamed vegetables, or a fresh salad complement the fish’s mild flavor and add a well-rounded aspect to your plate.

Popular Walleye Recipes for preparing Walleye

  • Pan-fried walleye with lemon and butter: Season the walleye fillets with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Melt some butter in a pan over medium heat and cook the fillets for 6-8 minutes per side, or until they are opaque and flake easily with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges and a side of rice or vegetables.
  • Grilled walleye with pesto sauce: Brush the walleye fillets with pesto sauce and grill them over medium heat for 6-8 minutes per side, or until they are opaque and flake easily with a fork. Serve with a side of grilled vegetables or a salad.
  • Baked walleye with dill sauce: Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together some sour cream, mayonnaise, dill, and lemon juice. Place the walleye fillets in a baking dish and top with the dill sauce. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the fish is opaque and flakes easily with a fork. Serve with a side of rice or vegetables.

Can you eat Walleye Skin and Bones?

Yes, you can eat the skin and bones of walleye, but it’s essential to prepare them properly and be aware of personal preferences. Here’s some information on eating the skin and bones of walleye:

Walleye Skin:

Walleye Skin
  • The skin of walleye is edible and can be quite flavorful when prepared correctly. Some people enjoy the crispy texture that pan-frying or grilling the skin can provide.
  • If you decide to eat the skin, make sure it is thoroughly cleaned and scaled before cooking. Scaling removes any remaining scales, making it more palatable.
  • When pan-frying or grilling, make sure to cook the skin until it becomes crispy and golden brown. This will enhance its flavor and texture.
  • Some recipes, like the one mentioned earlier with a creamy dill sauce, may involve baking the fish with the skin on, and the skin can become tender and flavorful in this method as well.

Walleye Bones:

Walleye Bones
  • The bones of walleye are generally smaller and less noticeable than those of some other fish species, but they can still be present, especially in fillets.
  • The bones in walleye are not as thick or rigid as those of larger fish like salmon or trout, which makes them less of a concern.
  • When cooking walleye fillets, you can usually eat the bones without any issue. They are often tender and can be consumed without being noticed.
  • However, some individuals prefer to carefully check for any remaining pin bones in the fillets before cooking. Use clean tweezers or your fingers to remove any noticeable bones.

Whether you choose to eat the skin and bones of walleye depends on your personal preference. 

Is Walleye Safe to Eat?

Yes, walleye is generally safe to eat. It is a relatively low-mercury fish, and it is a good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, it is important to note that walleye can accumulate contaminants from their environment, so it is important to eat them in moderation and from clean water sources.

Is Walleye Safe to Eat

The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends that adults eat no more than two servings of walleye per week from certain water bodies. This is because walleye from these water bodies may contain higher levels of contaminants, such as mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and dioxins.

Choosing Walleye:

When selecting walleye, consider the following factors to ensure you get the freshest and safest product:

  • It’s a good idea to choose walleye that come from clean and well-kept freshwater areas. This helps lower the chances of contaminants being present in the fish.
  • Look for firm, moist flesh with a mild odor. Fresh walleye should have clear, bright eyes and a shiny skin.
  • Check for sustainable fishing practices, such as those certified by organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC), to support responsible fishing and aquaculture.

By following these recommendations, you can savor the nutritional benefits of walleye with greater confidence in your safety and well-being.

Is walleye high in mercury?

Walleye is typically considered a low-mercury fish and is generally safe for consumption, including by pregnant women and young children. However, it’s essential to be aware that mercury levels can vary depending on the specific location where the walleye is caught. Checking local advisories and guidelines for fish consumption is a wise practice to ensure safety, especially if you regularly enjoy walleye from different sources. This way, you can stay informed about any specific concerns in your region.

Is walleye high in mercury

Here are some examples of mercury levels in walleye from different water bodies:

Walleye from Lake Erie0.11 to 0.44 ppm mercury
Walleye from Lake Superior0.02 to 0.15 ppm mercury
Walleye from the Mississippi River0.02 to 0.15 ppm mercury

As you can see, the mercury levels in walleye can vary significantly depending on the water body where they are caught. It is important to check with your state fish and wildlife agency to see what mercury advisories are in place for walleye in your area.

Helpful tips to minimize  your exposure to contaminants like mercury

  • Choose walleye from clean water sources.
  • Opt for smaller walleye, as they typically have lower levels of contaminants.
  • Avoid consuming the liver, as it tends to contain higher levels of contaminants.
  • Enjoy walleye as part of a varied diet, but avoid excessive consumption, especially for pregnant women and young children.
  • Cook walleye thoroughly to reduce the risk of harmful bacteria.
  • Rotate your seafood selections to reduce exposure to specific contaminants associated with certain species.

To Sum It All Up

Is walleye a good fish to eat? Walleye is an excellent choice for a nutritious and delicious meal. Renowned for its mild flavor and firm texture, this freshwater fish offers an array of health benefits, including being a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential vitamins and minerals, all while having relatively low mercury levels. 

Its versatility in the kitchen allows for various culinary preparations, from pan-frying to baking, making it a versatile addition to your diet. However, it’s crucial to source walleye from clean and reputable sources and exercise moderation due to its potential to accumulate contaminants from the environment. By following these guidelines, you can savor the nutritional advantages of walleye safely and enjoy its unique taste.

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