Salmon: Health Benefits and How To

Salmon Steaks

( Salmon is quite simply one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It's great for light but substantial meals, especially if you're trying to reduce your meat intake, and you can eat it in a wide variety of ways, from sushi to canned to grilled to baked. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of fish a week, particularly fatty fish like salmon. Let's take a look at the nutrition data to find out why!

Nutrition Data for Salmon

One 3 oz serving of cooked Chinook salmon contains:

    Calories: 196 kcal
    Carbohydrates: 0 g
    Fat: 11 g
    Protein: 22 g
    Fiber: 0 g
    Glycemic Index: Low
    Gluten Free: Yes

Health Benefits of Salmon

Heart Health

The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon help to boost HDL (good) cholesterol and lower LDL (bad) cholesterol. DHA, a particular type of omega-3 acid, has been shown to be particularly important in lowering cholesterol and improving heart health. Salmon is one of the best food sources of DHA, with 1,000 to 1,500 mg per 3 oz serving.

Other Health Benefits

With its high content of protein, iron, and Vitamin B12, salmon can help to boost athletic performance. The omega-3s in salmon may be beneficial for intestinal heath, and may have anti-inflammatory effects.

How to Choose Salmon at the Store

Which Species?

There are many species, and they all offer something a little different:

  • Chinook (King or Spring) is highest in fat and omega-3s. It has a deep red color and is the richest and most flavorful salmon. 
  • Chum is lowest in fat and omega-3s. It has firm flesh and is often used in products like patties and canned fish. Because of its low fat content, marinate and baste it before grilling.
  • Coho (Silver) is mild in flavor and often used in processed products like burgers, sausages, and canned fish. It has low fat and omega-3 content.
  • Sockeye salmon has intense flavor and firm flesh with relatively high fat and omega-3 content. You can find sockeye fresh, frozen, smoked, or canned.

Farmed vs. Wild

Farmed salmon contains more PCB contamination than wild salmon. Further, some environmentalists are concerned about the effects fish farming has on the environment. Look for wild salmon or farmed salmon raised in contained on-shore pens.

At the Store

When buying fresh salmon, look for fish that is firm and moist and that does not smell "fishy."

How to Get More Salmon in Your Diet

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HealthCastle, founded in 1997, is the largest online nutrition community run by Registered Dietitians. Information on this site is provided for informational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or dietitian. Information and statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.