BENEFITS OF SALMON
Salmon is a species of fish which is found both in fresh water (rivers) and saline water (seas), depending on the stage of its development. They have a peculiar life cycle. The fish lay their eggs near the mouth of rivers, where the eggs hatch, develop into fries and start their journey toward the sea. They grow into adult salmon in the sea then go back to the rivers to reproduce, where most of them die after laying their eggs. Salmon varieties are usually classified by the ocean in which they are located. 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
In the Pacific they are considered part of the genus Oncorhynchus, and in the Atlantic they belong to the genus Salmo. There is only one migratory Atlantic species but five existing species of Pacific salmon: chinook (or king), sockeye (or red), coho (or silver), pink and chum. In the UK, the main source of salmon is from Scotland. Wild Alaskan salmon is also available.
Salmon flesh is typically pink but their color can range from red to orange. The chinook and sockeye varieties are fattier than pink and chum, favorites for steaks and fillets, while coho falls somewhere in the middle. Pink salmon is primarily used for canned food. Chinook salmon are the largest and sockeye the smallest salmon. Due to the various species parameters, cuts and fillet sizes are variable.
Wild-caught salmon is often considered one of the healthiest fish available. In fact, take a look at the sockeye salmon 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 salmon 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.
One three-ounce serving (about 85 grams) of cooked wild-caught salmon contains approximately:
- 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.
Benefits of Salmon Nutrition
1. Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon is one of the best sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of farmed salmon has 2.3 grams of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, while the same portion of wild salmon contains 2.6 grams.
Unlike most other fats, omega-3 fats are considered "essential," meaning you must get them from your diet since your body can't create them. Although there is no recommended daily intake (RDI) of omega-3 fatty acids, many health organizations recommend that healthy adults get a minimum of 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day. EPA and DHA have been credited with several health benefits, such as decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of cancer and improving the function of the cells that line your arteries.
A 2012 analysis of 16 controlled studies found that taking 0.45–4.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day led to significant improvements in arterial function. What's more, studies have shown that getting these omega-3 fats from fish increases levels in your body just as effectively as supplementing with fish oil capsules. As for how much fish to eat, consuming at least two servings of salmon per week can help meet your omega-3 fatty acid needs.
2. Great Source of Protein
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. 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. 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 (2):
- Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 18% of the RDI
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 29% of the RDI
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): 50% of the RDI
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 19% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 47% of the RDI
- Vitamin B9 (folic acid): 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
4. Cardiovascular Benefits
Intake of fish rich in omega-3 fat (including salmon) is associated with decreased risk of numerous cardiovascular problems, including: heart attack, stroke, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides in the blood. Intake of omega-3-containing fish is also associated with improved metabolic markers for cardiovascular disease. Some cardiovascular benefits from omega-3 fat in fish like salmon start with only one omega-3 fish meal per week. Most of the benefits, however, start to show up in research studies with somewhat higher fish intake, along the lines of 2-3 times per week. In most studies, one serving of fish is approximately 6 ounces. Studies of fish intake and cardiovascular risk sometimes measure benefits against total grams of omega-3 fats obtained in the daily diet. In many of these studies, a daily minimum of 2 grams of omega-3s is required for measurable cardiovascular protection. (Remember that this 2-gram amount is the amount contained in approximately 4 ounces of cooked salmon.)
5. Joint Protection
One fascinating area of omega-3 and omega-3 fish research has involved the joints. Research on fish intake and joint protection has shown that EPA from fish like salmon can be converted by the body into three types of closely-related compounds that work to prevent unwanted inflammation. One group of compounds are the series 3 prostaglandins. A second type are the series 3 thromboxanes. A third and more recently discovered type are the resolvins. All of these omega-3 fat derivatives are able to help prevent excessive and unwanted inflammation. What's especially interesting about salmon, however, is that it combines these anti-inflammatory benefits that are related to omega-3 content with anti-inflammatory benefits that are related not to fat but to protein. Recent studies demonstrate the presence of small bioactive protein molecules (called bioactive peptides) in salmon that may provide special support for joint cartilage (as well as other types of tissue). One particular bioactive peptide called calcitonin has been of special interest in these studies, because a human form of calcitonin is made in the human body by the thyroid gland, and we know that it is a key hormone for helping regulate and stabilize the balance of collagen and minerals in the bone and surrounding tissue. Salmon peptides, including calcitonin, may join forces with salmon's omega-3 molecules to provide unique anti-inflammatory benefits for the joints
6. Protects the Brain and Nerves
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 antidepressant, relaxes the brain, and helps in treating Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.
7. Prevents ADHD in Children
Just like in adults, salmon offers the same brain benefits to children. Studies show that the omega-3 fatty acids can improve academic performance while preventing ADHD symptoms.
8. Skin Care
Owing to high concentrations of omega-3 fatty acids, salmon can reduce inflammation, reduce pore clogging, and erase fine lines and wrinkles. The carotenoid astaxanthin has antioxidant that can reverse the free radical damage, which causes aging. The same antioxidant is also very effective in cases of atopic dermatitis.
9. Enhances Eyesight
Eating salmon could help relieve dry eye syndrome and age-related macular degeneration symptoms, the No. 1 cause of irreversible blindness in the United States and European Union. Omega-3s are also thought to improve the drainage of intraocular fluid from the eyes and decrease the risk of glaucoma and high eye pressure. The omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon are also essential for eye development in infants.
10. May Fight Cancer Development
Any discussion about the health benefits of omega-3-rich salmon would not be complete without mentioning the evidenced-based effects this superfood can have on cancer. Of the 2,500+ peer-reviewed scientific papers discussing omega-3 fatty acids and cancer, one point is clear: Omega-3 fatty acids can have a profound effect on not only preventing cancer, but helping fight tumor growth and development.
If you have a fish allergy, you should avoid salmon and any other types of seafood.