Nutritionists don’t call it “brain food” for nothing. Salmon contains a crucial compound called docosahexaenoic acid that helps maintain the central nervous system, not to mention all of the boosts gives your heart and metabolism. Here’s why salmon needs to become part of your weekly dinner rotation.
Serving Size: 4-ounce sockeye salmon fillet
- 170 calories (70 calories from fat)
- 6 g total fat
- 1 g saturated fat (5% DV)
- 75 mg cholesterol (25% DV)
- 26 g protein
- 20 mg calcium (2% DV)
- 0.27 mg iron (4%)
Health Benefits of Salmon
As a rich source of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids, eating salmon has beaucoup advantages. Serving up this fish can:
- Reduce inflammation: Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon increase cell membrane fluidity, helping inhibit inflammation.
- Help burn fat: Omega-3’s can also improve fat metabolism and reduce your body’s production of triglycerides (a type of fat).
- Make your kids smarter: The DHA in salmon is a major structural component of the central nervous system and retinas. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found that salmon is among the types of fish that could provide a child with an additional 3.2 IQ points by age 9 if consumed during pregnancy.
- Control blood sugar and blood pressure: Research has shown that bioactive peptides in salmon proteins may help keep these numbers in check.
- Protect your heart: Eating salmon regularly may improve your lipid levels and reduce cardiovascular disease risk.
Featured Recipe: Simple Salmon Chowder
Which type of salmon is best?
Chinook (farmed and wild), coho, and sockeye salmon all contain significantly more n-3 fatty acids than n-6 fatty acids — a key nutrient ratio linked to reducing oxidative stress on your body. That’s the type that causes inflammation and ultimately can lead to chronic disease. Out of the three, chinook has the greatest content of n-3 and n-6 fatty acids, then sockeye, then coho.
How is organic salmon different?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) currently does not certify seafood as “organic,” but it’s working on developing standards to do so. Accordingly, any fish (including salmon) currently sold as “organic” is imported and labelled according to international farming and feeding standards.
What’s the difference between farmed and wild?
The FDA holds farmed (a.k.a. “aquacultured”) and wild-caught fish and shellfish to the same food safety standards. Both farmed and wild seafood provide lots of proteins, omega-3 fatty acids, key vitamins, and minerals. However, they may differ in their fatty acid content. For instance, farm-raised chinook salmon has been shown to have more omega-3 fatty acids than wild Alaska chinook.
And canned versus fresh?
Canned salmon and other fish still provide the same nutritional benefits as fresh fish but it’s generally more cost-effective if you’re on a budget.
Featured Recipe: Honey Garlic Salmon
What about genetically engineered salmon?
The FDA has approved AquAdvantage Salmon, a genetically engineered Atlantic salmon. It concluded it’s “as safe to eat as any non-genetically engineered (GE) Atlantic salmon, and also as nutritious.”
Should I eat salmon while pregnant? What about mercury?
The potential negative effects of methylmercury in fish are far smaller than the adverse effects of eating too little fish. The FDA has created three categories to help pregnant women select fish to eat while expecting: “best choices” (eat two to three servings a week); “good choices” (eat one serving a week); and “fish to avoid.” Salmon falls into the “best choices” category.
Can you eat salmon skin?
Salmon skin is super nutrient-dense; it’s got all of the omega 3’s, plus vitamin D and a slew of key vitamins and minerals. Try poaching, grilling, and broiling with the skin on, which will help your filet stay intact while you cook. You can always remove it before you dig in if you don’t love the flavor.
How should I prepare it?
Baked, broiled, sauteed, canned, or raw, there are many ways to enjoy salmon! However, if you’re pregnant or immunosuppressed, consult with your doctor before consuming raw seafood.