Halibut: Characteristics and Health Benefits

Halibut, a common name that refers to the two flatfish in the genus Hippoglossus from the family of right-eye flounders, comes from the words haly (holy) and butte (flat fish). Well, it is popular on Catholic holy days.

So how do you identify halibut?

They have some interesting physical characteristics. They are dark brown on the top side with an off-white underbelly. Their scales are so small that they are invisible to the naked eye. When they are born, they have an eye on each side of the head, and they swim like a salmon. After six months, however, one eye migrates to the other side, so they would look more like flounder. The side with the stationary eye darkens to match the top side; the other side stays white, though. This colour scheme, also known as countershading, serves a purpose, of course. It helps them disguise from above by blending with the ocean floor and from below by blending into the light from the sky. Moreover, the Pacific halibut, is the largest flatfish in the world.

What do halibut feed on?

Juvenile halibut feed on small crustaceans and other bottom-dwelling organisms. When you open their stomachs, the things you find likely include cod, crab, flounder, hermit crabs, herring, lamprey, pollock, sculpin, and other halibut. In most ecosystems, they are close to the top of the marine food chain. They have enemies too, of course. In the North Pacific, for instance, their predators include the killer whale, the salmon shark, and the sea lion.

Here are more interesting facts about the halibut:

  • Halibut are demersal, which means they live close to the floor of the sea.
  • Female halibut starts to spawn when they are between 10 and 14 years of age.
  • Each fish can lay up to several millions of pink eggs during the spawning season between December and June.
  • The typical lifespan of the Atlantic halibut is about 25 to 30 years, although it can live up to 50 years.
  • The biggest Pacific halibut measures above eight feet long and weighs 500 pounds.

Halibut as Food

Halibut is delicious and healthy at the same time. Because of its mild flavour, it is an excellent pair for various recipes that involve sauces, salsas, and seasoning. It is usually boiled, pan fried, deep fried or grilled. Click here for fresh halibut delivered.

Here are some additional health benefits you get from eating halibut:

It is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids (mainly EPA and DHA), which are important fatty acids the body cannot produce. These fatty acids prevent cardiovascular problems, regulate blood pressure, lower the risk of stroke, reduce, triglycerides, and reduce inflammation.

It contains good amounts of folic acid, vitamin B6, and B12, which help maintain low levels of homocysteine. High levels of homocysteine levels are directly linked to atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.

It is also a great source of magnesium, a mineral needed to relax the arteries and veins, consequently reducing resistance and improving blood flow. And, this means more nutrients and oxygen are delivered to the body.