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Is Fish Considered White Meat?

Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan by Victoria Mazmanyan | Last updated on August 07, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel Article author photo Igor Bussel

Fish, along with poultry, is almost universally classified as white meat.

From a scientific point of view, red meat is the meat of mammals, high in the pigment myoglobin, which gives it its dark color when exposed to oxygen. White meat is typically found in muscles used for quick bursts of activity and has a lower myoglobin content. Fish meat is low in myoglobin.

According to the culinary definition, red meat is dark before and after cooking. Fish meat might be dark when raw but becomes lighter in color when cooked.

Although there can be variations in color within different types of fish, some may have slightly redder flesh due to differences in myoglobin levels; fish is still generally considered a form of white meat in culinary and nutritional contexts.

Fish with dark red flesh are usually long-distance swimmers with relatively higher myoglobin levels to use as an oxygen source. For the same reason, some muscles of the same fish can be darker than others.

The orange flesh of some fish is determined not by the myoglobin content but by pigments such as carotenoids from feeding on crustaceans.

Although the environment in which fish live isn't the primary determinant of their flesh color, it does play a role. Several environmental factors, including temperature, population density, and salinity levels, can affect the color of the fish's flesh. Additionally, pollutants can also lead to variations in flesh color.


Article author photo Victoria Mazmanyan
Education: General Medicine at YSMU
Last updated: August 07, 2023
Medically reviewed by Igor Bussel
Data provided by should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.