Salmon is a historically important product in many cultures. In times when other food sources were scarce, salmon became a vital source of nutrition. Consuming rich in nutrients fish helped people to maintain energy when discovering and exploring northern territories. This is primarily true of the North Pacific and the Asian and American parts.
So when you hear the word ‘salmon’ what is the first thing that comes to mind? Some might think of a large, silvery fish gliding in cold water, while others think of a mouth-watering steak, drizzled with lemon juice and seasoned with herbs. It is impossible to list all dishes made from salmon fish all over the world. Salmon flesh is eaten fresh (sometimes raw), salted, smoked, dried, boiled, fried, and canned.
Salmon – Nutrition facts
Salmon has a high energy value. Has no carbs and its glycemic index is 0, so it’s perfect for blood glucose and insulin levels. A great amount of Vitamin B12 and a high level of Vitamin D is great for your overall health!
Salmon – Good news
Salmon is a type of oily fish that is rich in nutrients and very healthy. It promotes brain health and healthy pregnancy, helps to build muscles, and reduces the risk of diseases such as heart conditions and osteoporosis.
1Supports heart health
The American Heart Association recommends eating fish twice a week for heart health. People who eat fish regularly are protected from many cardiovascular conditions. Salmon contains Omega-3 fats that help prevent stroke-causing blood clots and reduce inflammation. It is a strong player against the progression of heart disease.
2Reduces risk of osteoporosis
Wild salmon is an excellent source of both vitamin D and calcium – two essential bone-building nutrients. While farmed salmon also provides some vitamin D, the amount varies based on the type of feed used during breeding.
Increasing the vitamin D content of farm-raised salmon would have positive effects on human bone health. Plus, salmon’s high protein content contributes to bone health by supporting muscle strength.
3Boosts brain health
The Omega-3 fats in salmon are also beneficial for the brain and essential for maintaining brain health. These fats are involved in many important processes in the brain, including the formation of brain cells and the regulation of neurotransmitters – chemicals that help brain cells communicate. Salmon is also a good source of other nutrients important for the sharpness of the mind, such as vitamin B12 and selenium.
Moreover, wild salmon owes its orange hue to the antioxidant astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid with neuroprotective properties that, in combination with Omega-3, slow down brain ageing.
4Prevents Alzheimer’s disease
One study in 2014 showed that consumption of oily fish (rich in healthy fats) more than twice per week was associated with a reduction in risk of dementia by 28% and Alzheimer’s disease by 41% in comparison to those who ate fish less than once a month.
5Promotes a healthy pregnancy
The Omega-3s in salmon are strongly associated with fetal brain and nervous system development. Insufficient Omega-3 intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding has been found to hinder infant brain growth.
Also, a 2018 study stated that eating omega-3-rich foods and omega-3 supplements can reduce the incidence of preterm birth (up to 37 weeks and up to 34 weeks) and reduce the likelihood of having a low birth weight baby at birth.
6Great source of protein for your muscles
Salmon is an excellent source of protein, which is essential for building and recovering muscles. One serving of 100 g (3.5 oz) of cooked salmon contains about 25 grams of protein, more than a third of the Nutrient reference value (or RDA) for adults. Protein is made up of amino acids, which are the building blocks of muscle. When you consume enough protein in your diet, your body can repair and grow muscle tissue, helping you maintain strong and healthy muscles. Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12 in salmon also contribute to muscle growth and maintaining their strength.
7Helps control your weight in an easy way
Although salmon is not a weight-loss product, it can be a useful part of a weight-loss plan. It is a good source of protein that will help you feel full and satisfied. Eating salmon as part of a balanced diet that includes other foods high in nutrients and regular physical activity will help you maintain a healthy weight. In addition, omega-3 fatty acids can contribute to weight loss by reducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity, making it easier to burn excess fat in the body.
Salmon – Bad news
Besides all the benefits, salmon also has a few drawbacks. Consuming large amounts of salmon may lead to some health risks.
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 accompanied by medicines that prevent blood clots.
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 risk ratio for wild salmon is significantly greater.
A pack of 230 grams of wild salmon will cost you around £6 to £7. A kilo costs around £29.00-£30.00. The price of wild salmon is relatively high, as we can see, which is one of the disadvantages of the product. But even this disadvantage cannot wipe off all the health benefits salmon provides.
Wild VS Farm-raised salmon. Not an easy choice
Today, much of the salmon you buy isn’t caught in the wild but bred on fish farms which use a process known as aquaculture to breed fish for human consumption. Whereas wild salmon eat other organisms that are found in their natural environment, farmed salmon are given a processed, high-fat, high-protein diet that makes them bigger.
For this reason, the two types of salmon have rather different nutrient content.
The table below provides a good comparison. There are some nutritional differences, most notably the fat content:
Taking into account that wild-caught salmon is usually 30-60% more expensive than farmed and, in general, pretty expensive – farmed salmon could be a better solution rather than not including salmon in your diet at all.
Fun & Curious Facts about Salmon
The colour of a salmon’s flesh is determined by its diet. Wild salmon that feed on krill and other small crustaceans tend to have pink flesh, while farmed salmon fed a diet of pellets and other artificial foods tend to have paler flesh.
Salmon are known for their powerful swimming abilities. They can swim at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour (97 km/h) and can leap up waterfalls and other obstacles to reach their spawning grounds.
Salmon is an important and ‘popular’ food source for many animals, including bears, eagles, and seals.
Salmon are able to navigate back to their exact birthplace using a combination of scent, magnetoreception (the ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field), and other cues.
Salmon in the Blue Zones
It is unclear whether people in the Blue Zones specifically eat salmon. Although salmon is a common food in many parts of the world, it is not a traditional ingredient in the diet of the people living in Blue Zones. This is because salmon is not the native food for many Blue Zones, and it may be not always available or affordable in these regions.
Salmon. Experiment by our expert
Let’s sum salmon up
Salmon is a nutritious and tasty fish that can show off many health benefits. It is a good source of protein, healthy fats and important vitamins and minerals such as omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12 and vitamin D. Eating salmon regularly can support brain function and weight control and reduce the risk of some serious conditions such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Adding salmon to your diet is a delicious and healthy way to maintain your overall health and well-being.
Not enough? Here is more from our colleagues
Thomas DeLauer, Celebrity trainer and Health author, shares some gripping information about salmon and why it is one of the best types of fish.
In this video, Bobby Parrish, a YouTuber with millions of followers, will teach you how to buy seafood at the grocery shop – farm-raised fish, wild-caught fish and more!
Receive Exclusive Tips & Weekly Digest – subscribe to our newsletter