Health Benefits of Salmon

A salmon is a silver-colored fish that lives in the ocean or rivers and swims up rivers to produce eggs. Its pink flesh is a healthy food source.

Although there is only one species of Atlantic salmon, there are seven species of Pacific salmon, most of which can be found in North American waters: 

  • Chinook
  • Coho
  • Chum
  • Sockeye
  • Pink
  • Masu
  • Amago

Health Benefits

Salmon is low in saturated fat and a good source of protein. It’s also packed with a number of important vitamins and minerals such as zinc, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, and vitamin B.

These nutrients play crucial roles in your bodily functions, such as keeping blood and nerve cells healthy and even making DNA. Most of the omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are “essential” fatty acids, which means that your body can’t make them, so you need to get them through your diet. 

Eating salmon provides numerous health benefits, including: 

Promoting Heart Health

Due to its combination of omega-3 fatty acids and potassium, salmon is good for your heart for a variety of reasons. Eating salmon is known to: 

Growing and Maintaining Hair and Skin

The essential omega-3 fatty acids in salmon support scalp health and give hair its shine. On the other hand, a lack of these nutrients can result in dry scalp and dull hair. Omega-3 fatty acids also help promote the health of your skin.

Supporting Bone Health

Your bones rely on nutrients like vitamin D and calcium to stay healthy, and salmon is an excellent source of both. Because your body can’t make its own calcium, you need to get it from the foods you eat. You also need vitamin D in order to absorb it.

Nutrition

Although most states have their own fish consumption advisories and recommended consumption levels, eating at least two servings of fish per week is generally considered part of a healthy diet.

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Salmon is an excellent source of: 

Nutrients per Serving

One 3-ounce serving of grilled/baked Wild Atlantic salmon contains: 

  • Calories: 175
  • Fat: 11 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 0 grams
  • Sugar: 0 grams
  • Protein: 19 grams
  • Fiber: 0 grams
  • Vitamin A: 1% of your daily recommended value (DRV)
  • Vitamin C: 5% DRV
  • Calcium: 1% DRV
  • Iron: 2% DRV

Things to Watch Out For:

Although it offers many health benefits, there are some health risks of eating salmon, especially in large amounts. In some cases, it can cause: 

  • Bleeding Problems. Fish oil is a natural anticoagulant, which means that it acts as a blood thinner. High doses (more than 3 grams a day) of omega-3 fatty acids can cause bleeding problems if taken with medications to prevent blood clots.
  • Disease. Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are linked to increased risk of type 2 diabetes and obesity, as well as other diseases. One kind of POP—polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs—can be found in salmon. However, its levels are 5 to 10 times higher in farmed fish than in wild fish. 
  • Cancer . Eating large amounts of salmon and other fish could expose you to cancer-causing chemicals, or carcinogens. Fish get these chemicals by swimming in polluted water. Although both wild and farmed salmon carry this risk, the benefit–risk ratio for wild salmon is significantly greater. 
  • Nervous System Damage. All fish contain some amount of mercury, salmon included. While high levels of mercury are not an issue for most people, they can cause damage to a developing fetus as well as the nervous system in young children.

How to Prepare Salmon

Salmon is available at most grocery stores. It’s also easy to use as a standalone meal or included in other parts of a dish. There are three different cuts of salmon:

  • Fillets
  • Steaks
  • Sides

Fillets are the most common cut, as they can be used in all methods of cooking and make removing the bones easy. Steaks are crosscut sections that work best for grilling, pan-searing, or broiling. A salmon side is the largest cut and can serve a large group.

While many people prefer to remove the skin of salmon before they cook it, others prefer to keep the skin intact. Pan-frying a salmon fillet can result in crispy skin and can provide added texture.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 23, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Cambridge Dictionary: “salmon.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Fish Faceoff: Wild Salmon vs. Farmed Salmon.”

C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital: “Cholesterol and Triglycerides: Eating Fish and Fish Oil.”

ESHA Research, Inc., Salem, Oregon: “Salmon.”

Keck Medicine of USC: “Are You Eating Too Much Fish?”

National Osteoporosis Foundation: “Food and Your Bones — Osteoporosis Nutrition Guidelines.”

Safe Beat: “12 Health Benefits Of Salmon For The Heart, Brain, And Much More.”

The New York Times Cooking: “How to Cook Salmon.”

The Trichological Society: “NUTRITION AND HAIR HEALTH.”

The World's Healthiest Foods: “Salmon.”

USGS: “How many species of salmon are there and how large can they get?”

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