We love salmon. Our mouths water even at the sound of it. At the drop of the word our minds conjure the image of a juicy pink slab sizzling on the grill, freshly seasoned and garnished with lemon rosemary. The sun is shining, and the backyard is teeming with the scent of tender, fall-off-the-fork salmon atop a bed of rice. I’m not drooling, you’re drooling.
But putting taste aside, salmon offers loads of other benefits that are equally as enticing. As an oily fish, salmon is bursting with omega-3 fatty acids as well as vitamin D. Both of which are extremely important in the maintenance of healthy minds and bodies. When these benefits are combined with its full range of amino acids and super high protein content, salmon can only be described as a bona fide superfood.
Therefore, salmon is both delicious and healthy. But we already knew that. But there is loads more to learn about this superfood, and the myriad benefits that salmon nutrition can offer. So read on to uncover the many secrets of salmon and the incredible ways it can improve your life.
Quick Facts on Everybody’s Favorite Fish
Salmon is no one species. In fact, the word “salmon” is an umbrella term to describe a wide range of species within the Salmonidae family. Other members of the family include trout, grayling, and whitefish.
They reside in the waters of both the North Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, making them a unique bi-coastal catch. Plus, they have more recently been introduced to the North American Great Lakes, as well as the freshwater lakes of Patagonia.
Historically, the Indigenous of the American Northwest relied on salmon as an everyday staple of their diet. Some even used it as their main food source.
Nearly all Atlantic salmon sold throughout the world as raised in farms. By contrast, the vast majority of Pacific salmon are caught in the wild. As we will soon discuss, these two varieties have a few nutritional differences that may be worth taking into consideration at the checkout counter.
Celtic and Irish mythology held the salmon in great esteem, often attributing to them qualities such as vulnerability and wisdom. In fact, Irish legend put forward the idea that the Salmon of Knowledge would grant its boundless wisdom to all those who ate it.
We think that maybe the Irish were on to something. Because it is no myth—salmon really does contain a slew of nutritional benefits that improve cognitive function and brain health. It makes perfect sense, then, why the fish has long been associated with knowledge and wisdom.
Salmon: A Fish With No Equal
Tilapia, cod, halibut—these are all popular fish that are eaten at dinner tables and restaurants around the world every day. However, there is simply no substitute for the benefits of salmon nutrition. Although white fish such as tilapia have their own health benefits, salmon has all of these and more.
Here’s a comprehensive breakdown of salmon nutrition and why it deserves to be a mainstay in any health-conscious diet.
Salmon Nutrition Facts
Salmon contains lots of EPA and DHA, both of which are long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. For every 100-gram portion of wild salmon, there are 2.6 grams of DHA and EPA combined. Since our bodies cannot produce omega-3s, it is necessary to get them through our diets. They have been shown to decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, improve arterial health, and reduce the risk of cancers.
Regarding protein, salmon is king. For every 3.5-ounce serving of salmon, you get a whopping 25 grams of high-quality protein. This amounts to nearly half the recommended daily intake of protein for the average sedentary adult. Since protein is necessary for healing after injury and exercise, and for maintaining muscle size, it is crucial to seek out premium protein sources like salmon.
Salmon is loaded with micronutrients that are difficult to get otherwise. Specifically, salmon contains a high amount of B vitamins and potassium. To be exact, salmon is high in 7 different B vitamins, with just one serving satisfying half your daily recommended intake of B3, also known as niacin, and B12. For potassium, one serving contains a solid 18% of your recommended intake.
Salmon and Mercury Content
We have all heard it before. Many health evangelists claim that fish like tuna and salmon are loaded with mercury, a potentially dangerous chemical element. While it is true that mercury is found in most fish, it is perfectly safe to consume it in small doses. So, the question then becomes: how much mercury is too much?
Luckily for us, salmon does not contain high amounts of mercury. To be precise, the US Environmental Protection Agency classifies wild-caught Alaskan and Pacific Coast salmon as containing “very low” amounts of mercury. On the other hand, wild-caught Atlantic salmon has a “low” rating.
While farmed salmon does have higher amounts of contaminants like mercury, it is still not high enough to be considered hazardous for human consumption. It is advised that only those who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid farmed salmon.
Even then, the high selenium content found in salmon has strong protective effects against the consumption of mercury. In fact, one serving of wild salmon gets you over half your daily intake of selenium. Selenium is a mineral known to protect bone and thyroid health, and it even can even lessen the risk of cancers.
The bottom line is that the health benefits of salmon nutrition vastly outweigh any marginal risk associated with ingesting traces of heavy metals. So rest easy and eat as much salmon as your heart desires, because salmon is perfectly safe to eat on a regular basis.
Given all that we know about salmon nutrition facts, the only risk involved with salmon is the damage it might do to your wallet.
Canned, Fresh, or Frozen?
There are several varieties of salmon available on the market. You can buy it fresh salmon, canned salmon, or frozen salmon. Despite being available in many form factors, there is no evidence that any one kind is less healthy than any other.
In fact, canned salmon nutrition closely resembles that of both fresh and frozen varieties. All three variants are equal in terms of protein, mercury, and omega-3 content. The only significant difference is taste, as some consider fresh salmon to be superior to the others in this respect. However, those on a tight budget may benefit from the greater affordability of canned salmon.
There are several cooking methods of salmon
- Pan Frying
Grilling is the perfect way to cook a succulent filet fast and efficiently. Pan frying, on the other hand, is ideal for when grilling is not in season. Alternatively, baking and steaming also get the job done while not requiring nearly as much maintenance during the cooking process.
It is worth noting that no one cooking method better preserves salmon’s nutritional profile. So you can grill, fry, or steam all you want without worrying about losing any of the healthy fats or proteins found in the fish.
North Atlantic vs. Pacific Salmon
Wild caught salmon nutrition is not the same as its factory-farmed counterpart. Since Atlantic salmon is predominantly factory farmed, it is at a higher risk of containing pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT). These potentially harmful chemicals are found in trace amounts of salmon feed, although they have been slowly phased out over the years.
To be on the safe side, we advise opting for salmon whose label states that it is “wild” or “line-caught”. This ensures that no unwanted contaminants wind up in your fish.
Our Recommended Salmon Dishes
Finally, the part you’ve been waiting for. Now that you have the knowledge down, let’s put it into practice. So fire up the grill, or preheat the oven, because here are a couple of our favorite salmon recipes.
Mouth-Watering Grilled Salmon
- 1 ½ pounds salmon fillets
- A hint of lemon pepper
- A hint of garlic powder
- A dash of sea salt
- ⅓ cup low-sodium sea salt
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ cup coconut oil
Sprinkle lemon pepper, garlic powder, and sea salt on your salmon fillets. Using a mixing bowl, combine the soy sauce, coconut sugar, water, and coconut oil until the coconut sugar dissolves. Place the fillets in a large sealable bag with the sauce and turn to coat. Refrigerate for two hours before grilling on medium heat for 7 minutes per side.
Nice and Easy Baked Salmon
- 1 ½ pounds salmon fillet
- ½ cup grass-fed butter, salted and melted
- 4 tbsp lemon juice
- 8 crushed garlic cloves
- 2 tbsp chopped dill
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Lay the salmon fillet in the center of a lined baking sheet. In a measuring cup, mix the grass-fed butter, lemon juice, chopped dill, and garlic cloves. Whisk well. Pour mixture over top of salmon before folding the ends of the tray lining to cover the salmon entirely. Bake for 20 minutes or until tender throughout.