Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.
This popular fatty fish is loaded with nutrients and may reduce risk factors for several diseases. It’s also tasty, versatile and widely available.
Here are 25 amazing health benefits of salmon.
1. Salmon is crucial for immunity
The combo of omega-3’s, selenium, and vitamins A and D are key for improving immunity, both in the short and long term. Digging into at least two servings per week can reduce your risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, and cognitive decline.
Salmon is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and decrease risk factors for disease.
2. Salmon is a great source of lean protein
It doesn’t get any better than fish when it comes to healthy sources of protein, especially fatty fish like salmon. Just one four ounce serving has 26 grams of protein, which can help you fill up, curb cravings, and stay satisfied for less saturated fat than meat.
Your body requires protein to heal, protect bone health and prevent muscle loss, among other things. Salmon provides 22–25 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving.
3. Salmon can boost your brain
Salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12 in addition to selenium and choline. All of the above are linked to improving brain function, cognition, and neurological health. The high levels of DHA work in association with the vitamin A, vitamin D, and selenium in salmon to boost and improve brain function. In fact, omega-3 fatty acid supplements are used to treat psychological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
Eating salmon during pregnancy can assist with improved fetal brain development and health. Dr. Simon Dyall, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Bournemouth University, UK, published a report in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience that stated that the omega-3 fatty acids increase the efficiency of brain functions, improves memory and keep it active during long working hours.
Along with the amino acids, vitamin A, vitamin D, choline, and selenium, these fatty acids protect the nervous system from damage related to aging, acts as an, relaxes the brain, and helps in treating Parkinson’s disease.
4. Salmon is a heart helper
The polyunsaturated fatty acids found in salmon can help improve serum cholesterol, a key indicator of cardiovascular disease risk. Plus, salmon is a source of potassium, an important mineral for balancing blood pressure and benefiting heart health. Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA) and potassium.
The omega-3 and -6 fatty acids combined with potassium greatly contribute to heart health, as they reduce artery inflammation, lower cholesterol levels, and maintain blood pressure levels.
Potassium helps to control blood pressure and prevent excess fluid retention. Thus, regular salmon intake can significantly reduce heart-related medical conditions, including heart attacks, strokes, arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides.
5. It may help you lose weight
Thanks to the lean protein and polyunsaturated fat, eating salmon as a part of a nutrient-dense, veggie-filled meal can help you stay satisfied longer, minimizing the urge to graze. Just be sure to skip calorie-laden toppings, sauces, breading, or deep-frying which will add saturated fat without any health-related upsides.
6. It’s especially great for moms
Eating salmon while pregnant or nursing can bolster fetal brain development. Why? One main reason is that salmon is chock-full of DHA, a type of polyunsaturated fat that’s readily available in oily fish.
Since salmon is good for brain health, expecting mothers should eat salmоn to build cognitive skills and learning capabilities in children. It should also be included in the diet of growing children, as salmon can also help to curb ADHD and enhance academic performance.
7. It’s key for strong bones
The combination of nutrients found in fatty fish — polyunsaturated fatty acids and vitamin D — have also been linked to improved bone health and reduced risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
8. It’s an anti-inflammatory diet staple
Fish has been linked to having a whole host of anti-inflammatory benefits by protecting cells from DNA damage, including reducing risk of depression and possibly anxiety. Plus, the vitamin D found in fish may play a role in preventing autoimmune disease.
9. Repairs damaged tissues
Salmon is a good source of protein. In addition to essential nutrients, our body requires protein as it is the building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. It helps the body to build and repair tissues after an injury, protects bone health, and maintains muscle mass during weight loss. It also maintains a healthy metabolic rate and improves bone density and strength.
10. Assists in proper thyroid function
One of the important functions of selenium is to maintain proper thyroid function. A decent portion of salmon can provide a considerable amount of selenium. This essential trace mineral protects the thyroid gland from oxidative damage caused during the synthesis of the thyroid hormone. The cells of the thyroid gland produce hydrogen peroxide which is used to make the thyroid hormone.
11. May cure cancer
Based on the impressive omega-3 fatty acid content, salmon is considered as a superfood. Medically, it is proven that omega-3 fatty acids can have a profound effect on cancer cells and kill tumors. Certain cancer conditions like skin cancer, prostate cancer, colorectal cancer, liver cancer, UVB-induced skin cancer, and brain tumors may be treated and prevented with omega-3 fatty acids.
12. Fights inflammation
Salmon can be a powerful weapon against inflammation.
In an eight-week study of middle-aged and elderly Chinese women, consuming 3 ounces (80 grams) of salmon and other fatty fish daily led to reductions in the inflammatory markers TNF-a and IL-6 (1).
In another eight-week study, 12 men with ulcerative colitis who consumed 21 ounces (600 grams) of salmon per week experienced a decrease in inflammatory markers in their blood and colon, along with self-reported improvements in symptoms (1).
Salmon and other fatty fish can help lower inflammation, which may reduce risk factors for several diseases and improve symptoms in people with inflammatory conditions.
13. Enhances eyesight
Incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin A, salmon is a wonderful food source for eyes. Regular salmon consumption could help to cure dry-eye syndrome and age-related macular degeneration (AMD) symptoms.
14. Promotes healthy skin
Salmon benefits the skin owing to the presence of fatty acids and vitamin A. These healthy fats improve the skin quality and health. Omega-3 fatty acids work in collaboration with the carotenoid antioxidants of astaxanthin in salmon to tremendously reduce free radical damage that is responsible for aging.
15. Boosts Metabolism
The omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and selenium within salmon all combine to help manage insulin levels throughout the body, thereby facilitating the absorption of sugar and the subsequent lowering of blood sugar levels.
16. Reduces Risk of Anxiety and Depression
Many people are surprised to find out that the brain is actually made up of about 60% fat, much of which is the omega-3 fat DHA. This fat, which is found abundantly in salmon, is essential for healthy brain function, and maintaining the integrity of the nervous system as well. This is why the use of DHA supplements is also very important in children and during pregnancy, as the developing brain needs this fat for proper development. People who eat more salmon also report reduced incidence of depressive illness, along with other mental disorders.
17. Promotes Muscle Building
If you are an athlete, or interested in building lean muscle, you need to ensure that your body is provided with enough protein “building blocks” to facilitate the rebuilding process. While chicken and beef are great protein sources, salmоn makes a superior option in many cases, thanks to its high protein content and the presence of healthy fats. Diets that are low in fat are likely to result in lower muscle gain, but salmon is poised to take care of that. Salmon is an especially attractive dinner protein source, as it digests faster than beef and chicken and is a great way to reduce carbohydrates before bed.
18. May Promote Longevity
Living longer is everyone’s desire, but not at the cost of suffering through your last decades of life. Salmon, thanks to its unique nutritional profile, can help elevate IGF-1 levels, a growth factor that assists cell recovery and regeneration, and coupled with omega-3 found in it, reduce inflammation significantly. These factors are key to cells retaining their function through life, and is what is responsible for slowed aging in populations.
18. Salmon helps your hair
Another thing omega-3 fatty acids help? Your scalp and hair. It is also rich in Vitamin D, which is believed to help with female hair loss. It helps to keep the weight off Salmоn’s high protein content means it’s an ideal choice for anyone looking to lose a few pounds or maintain their weight; protein can reduce your appetite in comparison to the same amount of calories from fat and carbs so protein helps to keep you fuller for longer.
19. It can lower risk of chronic disease
Studies suggest that the combo of omega-3s and vitamin D in salmon may reduce risk of cancer and heart disease. While the research is ongoing, diets that include lots of fish, veggies, fruit, 100% whole grains, legumes, low-fat dairy, nuts and seeds have been overwhelmingly linked to improved health and weight control overall. Dig in!
20. Excellent vitamin B complex source
Salmon is rich in the entire vitamin B group—B3, B5, B7, B6, B9, B12, and so on. Vitamin B complex plays a pivotal role in maintaining a healthy balance of all bodily functions. The B group of vitamins work co-dependently to turn consumed food into energy, create and repair DNA, and reduce inflammation. Among all the B vitamins, it is richest in vitamin B3 (niacin) and vitamin B6. Vitamin B3 helps to lower cholesterol levels, whereas vitamin B6 improves brain health. It also has a good amount of B12 which is vital for the functioning of the brain and nervous system, hormonal balance, and several metabolic functions.
21. Salmon is Loaded With Selenium
Selenium is a mineral found in soil and certain foods.
It’s considered a trace mineral, meaning your body only needs tiny amounts of it. Nevertheless, getting enough selenium in your diet is important.
One study found that blood levels of selenium increased significantly more in people who consumed two servings of salmon per week than those who consumed fish oil capsules containing less selenium (1).
A 100-gram serving of salmon provides 59–67% of the RDI of selenium, a mineral involved in protecting bone health, improving thyroid function and reducing the risk of cancer.
22. High in B Vitamins
Salmon is an excellent source of B vitamins.
Below is the B vitamin content in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of wild salmon (1):
- (Thiamin) Vitamin B1: 18% of the RDI
- (Riboflavin) Vitamin B2: 29% of the RDI
- (Niacin) Vitamin B3: 50% of the RDI
- (Pantothenic acid) Vitamin B5: 19% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 47% of the RDI
- (Folic acid) Vitamin B9: 7% of the RDI
- Vitamin B12: 51% of the RDI
These vitamins are involved in several important processes in your body, including turning the food you eat into energy, creating and repairing DNA and reducing the inflammation that can lead to heart disease (2).
Studies have shown that all of the B vitamins work together to maintain optimal functioning of your brain and nervous system. Unfortunately, even people in developed countries may become deficient in one or more of these vitamins (3).
Salmon is an excellent source of several B vitamins, which are needed for energy production, controlling inflammation and protecting heart and brain health.
23. Salmon is a Good Source of Potassium
Salmon is quite high in potassium.
In fact, salmоn contains more potassium than an equivalent amount of banana, which provides 10% of the RDI (3).
A large analysis of 31 studies found that supplementing with potassium significantly reduced blood pressure, especially when added to a high-sodium diet (7).
One of the ways in which potassium lowers blood pressure is by preventing excess water retention.
One study found that restricting potassium led to an increase in water retention and blood pressure in healthy people with normal blood pressure (8).
100 grams of salmon provide 11–18% of the RDI of potassium, which helps control blood pressure and prevent excess fluid retention.
24. It helps keep your energy up
A healthy brain is propped up by vitamin dense food, and you guessed it, omega-3 fatty acids are one of those that your brain thrives on. If your mind is feeling fab, it can help to influence all aspects of your wellbeing, including energy, mood, mental health and motivation. It helps with vision Some studies have shown a decreased risk of age-related macular degeneration in people who eat a lot of omega-3, something salmon is rich in. Salmon is also a great source of antioxidants and carotenoids, both of which contribute to optimum function of the eye.
25. High in Vitamin D
Containing more than a day’s worth of vitamin D in just one serving, eating wild-caught salmon fish helps maintain optimal health in a variety of ways, and it’s important to note that wild-caught salmon nutrition contains up to 25 percent more vitamin D than farmed salmon nutrition, according to research out of Boston. (3)
This is important as vitamin D deficiency is linked to everything from cancer to multiple sclerosis to rheumatoid arthritis and heart disease. According to the 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, approximately 90 percent of people with darker skin pigments in the United States suffer from vitamin D insufficiency. (4) This stresses the need for all of us to get plenty of sun exposure, supplement or eat vitamin D-rich foods, such as salmоn, on a regular basis.
Types of Salmon
Salmon can be divided into two main categories based on where they originated: Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon. From there, they can be further broken down into several main species, including:
- Atlantic Salmon
- Chinook Salmon
- Chum Salmon
- Coho Salmon
- Masu Salmon
- Pink Salmon
- Sockeye Salmon
Wild-caught salmon is often considered one of the healthiest fish available. In fact, take a look at the sockeye salmоn nutrition profile or the grilled salmon nutrition facts, and you’ll notice that each serving supplies a good amount of protein, heart-healthy fats, and important vitamins and minerals for a low amount of salmоn calories. For this reason, most health organizations and experts recommend including one to two servings of this nutritious ingredient in your diet each and every week.
Salmon Nutrition Facts
Although there are some minute differences between different types of salmon, such as smoked salmon nutrition vs. canned salmon nutrition, salmon is considered one of the top nutrient-dense foods. This is because, even though there are a low amount of calories in salmon nutrition, there’s a good amount of heart-healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and protein in salmon.
One three-ounce serving (about 85 grams) of cooked wild-caught salmon contains approximately: (1)
- 155 calories
- 21.6 grams protein
- 6.9 grams fat
- 39.8 micrograms selenium (57 percent DV)
- 8.6 milligrams niacin (43 percent DV)
- 2.6 micrograms vitamin B12 (43 percent DV)
- 0.8 milligram vitamin B6 (40 percent DV)
- 0.4 milligram riboflavin (24 percent DV)
- 218 milligrams phosphorus (22 percent DV)
- 0.2 milligram thiamine (16 percent DV)
- 1.6 milligrams pantothenic acid (16 percent DV)
- 534 milligrams potassium (15 percent DV)
- 0.3 milligram copper (14 percent DV)
- 31.5 milligrams magnesium (8 percent DV)
- 24.6 micrograms folate (6 percent DV)
- 0.9 milligram iron (5 percent DV)
- 0.7 milligram zinc (5 percent DV)
In addition to the nutrients listed above, salmon nutrition also contains some vitamin A and calcium.
Side Effects of Salmon?
Mercury poisoning: There are two types of salmon available, wild or farm-raised. Wild salmоn is caught in natural water bodies like rivers, lakes, and oceans. Fish farms make up a large part of the salmon sold for consumption worldwide. Studies show that farmed salmоn has greater levels of contaminants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, mercury, and several chlorinated pesticides. These pollutants are known to cause various cancers, diabetes, and stroke, among others, according to a report published in the Alternative Medicine Review.Make sure to purchase quality farm-raised salmon, and it should be safe to consume it 5 a week.
Women, who are pregnant or nursing, should keep monitoring their salmоn consumption as methylmercury, a toxic form of mercury can have a negative impact on the baby’s developing brain and nervous system.
Tapeworm infection: It’s not safe to eat raw salmon which has brought from the fishmonger or the supermarket. Raw salmon and salmоn sashimi are not the same as the sushi-grade fish are kept ‘super frozen’ at minus 40 degrees C. Raw salmon may contain parasitic tapeworms called Diphyllobothrium latum, which can cause:
- Abdominal discomfort
- Weight loss
- Vitamin B deficiency
To avoid this, make sure that you cook the fish thoroughly at its thickest point, cooking for 10 minutes for every inch.
So go ahead and enjoy your salmon baked, grilled, or pan-seared without any guilt!
Take Home Message
Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse that provides several impressive health benefits.
Consuming at least two servings per week can help you meet your nutrient needs and reduce the risk of several diseases.
In addition, salmon is tasty, satisfying and versatile. Including this fatty fish as a regular part of your diet may very well improve your quality of life.