Salmon: Nutrition, Health Benefits, and More

Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.

Not only is this popular fatty fish rich in nutrients it may also reduce certain risk factors for a variety of diseases.

What’s more it’s delicious and versatile.

This article will explore some of the main benefits of salmon and some easy ways to add it to your diet.
Salmon nutrition facts

The nutritional value of salmon varies by species. For example farmed salmon has more healthy fats and calories while wild salmon has slightly more protein.

However both types are great sources of many key nutrients including selenium phosphorus and B vitamins).

Here are details on the nutritional value of a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of cooked wild or farmed salmon:

Salmon is especially high in selenium an important nutrient involved in DNA synthesis thyroid hormone metabolism and reproductive health.

It’s also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids heart-healthy fats that reduce inflammation and support brain health.

What’s more salmon is rich in vitamin B12 which is needed to produce red blood cells and regulate central nervous system health.

summary

Salmon is a great source of protein healthy fats and various essential vitamins and minerals.

Salmon health benefits

1. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids

Salmon is one of the best sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of farmed salmon contains 2.3 grams of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids while the same portion of wild salmon contains 2.2 grams.

Unlike most other fats omega-3 fats are considered “essential,” which means you must get them from your diet because your body can’t make them.

In general most health organizations recommend that healthy adults consume at least 250-1000 mg of the combined EPA and DHA per day.

EPA and DHA are thought to have a variety of impressive health benefits such as reducing inflammation lowering blood pressure lowering the risk of cancer and improving the function of cells lining arteries.

A review of 22 studies found that continued use of EPA and DHA supplements can significantly improve arterial function especially in people who smoke are overweight or have high cholesterol levels or metabolic syndrome.

What’s more research shows that getting these omega-3 fats from fish is more effective at boosting levels in the body than supplementing with fish oil capsules.

As for how much fish to eat eating at least two servings of salmon a week can help you meet your omega-3 fatty acid needs.

Summary

Salmon is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to reduce inflammation lower blood pressure and reduce risk factors for disease.

2. Great source of protein

Salmon is rich in high quality protein.

Like omega-3 fats protein is an essential nutrient you must get from your diet.

Protein Plays many important roles in your body including helping you recover from injury protecting bone health and maintaining muscle mass during weight loss and as you age.

Recent studies have found that for optimal health each meal should provide at least 20-30 grams of high-quality protein.

For reference a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon contains 22-25 grams of protein.

Summary

Your body needs protein to heal after injury protect bone health prevent muscle loss and more. Salmon provides 22-25 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving.

3. High in B vitamins

Salmon is an excellent source of B vitamins.

Here’s the amount of B vitamins in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of wild salmon:

Vitamin B12: more than 100% of the DV
Niacin: 63% of the DV
Vitamin B6: 56% of the DV
Riboflavin: 38% of the DV
Pantothenic acid: 38% of the DV
Thiamine: 23% of the DV
Folic acid: 7% of the DV

These vitamins are involved in several important processes in your body including converting the food you eat into energy producing and repairing DNA and reducing chronic inflammation that can lead to disease.

Additionally studies have found that all B vitamins work together to maintain optimal brain and nervous system function ( 19Trusted Source ).

Summary

Salmon is an excellent source of many of the B vitamins the body needs to produce energy that controls inflammation and protects heart and brain health.

4. Good source of potassium

Salmon is quite high in potassium.

This is especially true of wild salmon which provides 13% of the DV per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) compared to 8% for farmed salmon.

In fact wild salmon contains more potassium than the equivalent amount of bananas which provide only 9% of the DV.

Potassium helps control blood pressure and may also reduce the risk of stroke.

One review found that potassium supplementation can significantly reduce blood pressure levels in people with high blood pressure especially in those who consume a lot of sodium.

Potassium also works with sodium to help regulate fluid balance and lower blood pressure by preventing excess water retention.

Summary

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon provides up to 13% of the DV for potassium which can help control blood pressure and prevent excess fluid retention.

5. Loaded with selenium

Selenium is a mineral found in soil and in certain foods including salmon.

It is considered a trace mineral which means your body only needs small amounts. Still it’s important to get enough selenium in your diet.

Studies have shown that selenium helps protect bone health lowers thyroid antibodies in people with autoimmune thyroid disease and may reduce the risk of certain types of cancer.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon provides 75–85% of the daily value for selenium.

Eating salmon and other types of seafood has been shown to improve blood selenium levels in people whose diets are low in selenium.

An earlier study found that people who ate two servings of salmon per week had significantly higher blood selenium levels than those who ate fish oil capsules with less selenium.

Summary

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of salmon provides 75-85% of your daily value for selenium a mineral that supports bone health improves thyroid function and protects against certain types of cancer.

6. Contains astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is a compound that has been linked to several powerful health effects. A member of the carotenoid antioxidant family astaxanthin gives salmon its signature red hue.

Astaxanthin appears to reduce the risk of heart disease by reducing the oxidation of LDL (bad) cholesterol and increasing levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.

Some studies also suggest that astaxanthin may reduce inflammation reduce oxidative stress and prevent the buildup of fatty plaque in arteries which may reduce the risk of heart disease.

Additionally astaxanthin is believed to work synergistically with the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon to protect the brain and nervous system from inflammation.

What’s more astaxanthin can even help prevent skin damage and make you look younger.

In fact one review reported that astaxanthin may act as an antioxidant reduce the appearance of wrinkles improve skin elasticity and protect skin cells from damage.

According to a 2014 review salmon contains 0.4-3.8 mg of astaxanthin per 3.5 ounces (100 grams) with sockeye salmon having the highest levels.

Summary

Astaxanthin an antioxidant found in salmon may benefit heart nervous system and skin health.

7. May reduce the risk of heart disease

Eating salmon on a regular basis may help prevent heart disease.

This is largely due to salmon’s ability to raise blood levels of omega-3 fatty acids. Many people have too much omega-6 fatty acids in their blood relative to omega-3 fatty acids.

Research shows that when the balance of these two fatty acids is out of balance the risk of heart disease increases.

In an earlier study eating 2 servings of farmed salmon per week increased omega-3 blood levels by 8-9% and decreased omega-6 levels after 4 weeks.

Additionally some studies suggest that regular fish consumption may be associated with lower triglyceride levels and improvements in several other heart disease risk factors.

Summary

Eating salmon can help prevent heart disease by increasing omega-3 fat levels lowering omega-6 fat levels and lowering triglycerides.

8. May benefit weight management

Eating salmon regularly can help you lose weight and keep it off.

Like other high-protein foods it helps regulate appetite-controlling hormones and helps you feel full.

Additionally consuming protein-rich foods like salmon temporarily increases your metabolic rate more than other foods.

Additionally studies have shown that omega-3 fats in salmon and other fatty fish may promote weight loss and reduce belly fat in obese people if combined with an active lifestyle although more research is needed.

A study of children with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease found that supplementation with the main omega-3 DHA in salmon significantly reduced liver and belly fat compared to placebo.

Also salmon is fairly low in calories. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of farmed salmon has only 206 calories while wild salmon has fewer calories at 182.

Summary

Eating salmon can help you manage your weight by temporarily reducing your appetite boosting your metabolism and reducing belly fat.

9. Can help prevent inflammation

Salmon can provide powerful protection against chronic inflammation.

Many experts believe that inflammation is the root cause of most chronic diseases including heart disease diabetes and cancer.

Several studies have found that eating more salmon and other types of seafood can help reduce several markers of inflammation.

In fact a study of 4,105 people found that frequent fish consumption was associated with lower levels of white blood cells which are often used as a measure of chronic inflammation.

According to another review published in 2014 fish oil supplementation was found to significantly reduce levels of several specific markers of inflammation including CRP IL-6 and TNF-α

Summary

Salmon and other fatty fish can help reduce inflammation which can reduce risk factors for several diseases and improve symptoms in people with inflammation.

10. May protect brain health

A growing body of research suggests that adding salmon to your diet may improve brain function.

Both fatty fish and fish oil have been found to protect fetal brain health slow cognitive decline and preserve brain function during pregnancy.

One review found that eating at least 2 servings of fish per week was associated with a 10% lower risk of dementia and a 30% lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another 2020 review concluded that eating fish may improve memory boost brain function and protect brain structure in healthy adults.

Summary

Regular consumption of salmon may help protect the brain health of the fetus during pregnancy preserve brain function and reduce the risk of cognitive decline and dementia.

11. Can improve mental health

In addition to protecting brain health some promising research suggests that salmon can support mental health thanks to its omega-3 fatty acid content.

According to a review of 10 studies eating at least 1 serving of fish per week or 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids per day was associated with a lower risk of depression especially in women.

However more high-quality randomized controlled trials are needed.

Another small study in 23 young adults found that taking omega-3 fatty acid supplements significantly improved depressive symptoms after 21 days.

Some studies also suggest that omega-3 fatty acids can reduce anxiety symptoms and improve mood although more research is needed.

Summary

Some studies have found that eating fish or increasing your intake of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and improve mood.

12. May help maintain healthy vision

Salmon contains several nutrients necessary to promote eye health and maintain vision.

For example astaxanthin has been studied in humans and animals for its ability to prevent certain diseases that can affect eye health including age-related macular degeneration eye fatigue uveitis and cataracts.

Salmon also contains high amounts of vitamin A with about 8% of the DV in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of farmed salmon.

Vitamin A is essential for vision and is a precursor to certain pigment molecules in the eye’s photoreceptors.

What’s more other research suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may be beneficial in the treatment of dry eye.

Summary

Salmon contains nutrients like astaxanthin vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids all of which help promote eye health.

13. Could support bone health

Salmon is a great source of vitamin D with about 66% of the DV in a 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of farmed salmon.

Vitamin D is an important micronutrient that plays a central role in bone health by increasing calcium absorption.

Research suggests that low vitamin D levels may be associated with an increased risk of bone loss and lower bone mineral density in older adults.

Salmon also contains phosphorus another nutrient important for maintaining bone strength.

Interestingly some studies have found that eating more fish may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in some populations but more research is needed.

Summary

Salmon is rich in vitamin D and phosphorus which can support bone health. Some research suggests that eating fish may reduce the risk of osteoporosis but more research is needed.

14. Delicious and versatile

Salmon is undoubtedly delicious. Compared to many other fatty fish such as sardines and mackerel it has a distinctive delicate flavor with less “fishy smell”.

It’s also very versatile. It can be steamed smoked grilled or boiled. It can also be eaten raw in sushi and sashimi.

Plus canned salmon is a quick and inexpensive option that offers the same impressive health benefits as fresh fish. In fact almost all canned salmon is wild rather than farmed and its nutritional profile is excellent.

Look for it in BPA-free cans to avoid potential health risks associated with this chemical.
How to Include More Salmon in Your Diet

Here are some healthy ideas for incorporating salmon into your diet:

Substitute canned salmon for tuna when making tuna salad with a healthy mayo.
Make a Cobb Salad with canned salmon hard-boiled eggs avocado lettuce and tomatoes.
Enjoy smoked salmon and cream cheese on sprouted grain bread with cucumber or tomato slices.
Try grilled salmon with guacamole.
Grill a herb-crusted salmon with veggies for an easy weeknight dinner.

Summary

Salmon is delicious and can be cooked in many different ways. Canned salmon is a convenient and inexpensive option.

Potential health risks of eating salmon

While salmon is a nutrient-dense food that makes a great addition to a balanced diet there are some downsides and risks to consider.

First both wild and farmed salmon species often contain contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dioxins which if consumed in large amounts can alter hormone levels and negatively impact other aspects of health.

However the government has strict regulations on the amount of contaminants allowed in feed aiming to reduce the amount of contaminants in seafood.

Antibiotics are also often added to the feed of farmed fish. Antibiotic use has been linked to environmental concerns and may increase the risk of antibiotic resistance and other long-term health effects.

If you are concerned about antibiotic resistance it may be beneficial to avoid fish from regions with less stringent regulations on antibiotic use such as Chile.

Also keep in mind that salmon contains some mercury although it is much lower than other fish such as swordfish and shark.

If you’re pregnant it’s generally recommended that you eat 2 to 3 servings of fatty fish including salmon per week and avoid undercooked or raw seafood.

Summary

Salmon contains some contaminants and heavy metals such as mercury which can be harmful if eaten in large amounts. Farmed fish from some regions such as Chile can be treated with high levels of antibiotics which can lead to antibiotic resistance.

The bottom line

Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse that provides several impressive health benefits.

Eating at least two servings per week can help you meet your nutritional needs and reduce your risk of many diseases.

Plus salmon is delicious satisfying and versatile. Including this fatty fish as part of your daily diet may well improve your quality of life and health.

 

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