Salmon is a “superfood” rich in nutrients that promote heart, brain, and immune system health.
For most people, adding a weekly serving of salmon to the dinner table comes with a host of wellness benefits.
Here’s what to know about incorporating this oily fish into your diet.
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Is Salmon Healthy?
The American Heart Association recommends eating two servings (3 ounces cooked) of fish per week, particularly fatty fish, and the Food and Drug Administration suggests eating 8 ounces of seafood per week.
Salmon, packed with healthy fats, protein, and vitamins, is a great option — especially if you’re looking for a heart-healthy fish.
Eating salmon can help prevent heart disease, age-related memory loss, and inflammation.
But because oily fish like salmon — with oil in soft tissues and near the gut — may contain low levels of environmental pollutants, experts advise people of childbearing age, pregnant and breastfeeding people, and young children to limit the amount they eat with guidance from their health care professional.
Wild-caught salmon may have more nutrients and fewer contaminants than farmed salmon, but either is a nutritious meal option.
Health Benefits of Salmon
1. It’s full of omega-3 fatty acids
Known as “healthy fats,” omega-3 fatty acids are known to prevent heart disease, reduce the risk of sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias in patients with coronary heart disease, and provide more oxygen to the brain for improved cognitive function.
Omega-3s can also help relieve symptoms of dry eye disease and rheumatoid arthritis.
2. It’s packed with protein
Just 3.5 ounces of salmon has 20 grams of protein, which is vital for cell repair and production, muscle health, and fighting infections. It also contains iron, further supporting muscle metabolism.
3. It’s rich in vitamins and selenium
Salmon contains vitamin A, important for immune function, reproduction, and vision; vitamin D, supporting calcium absorption and immune health; and vitamin B12, offering nervous system benefits and energy production.
A 3.5-ounce serving of wild salmon contains more than 100% of a person’s daily value of vitamin B12 and more than half of a person’s daily value of vitamin B6.
Salmon is also particularly high in selenium, a mineral that supports a healthy metabolism, as well as immune and thyroid function.
4. It may reduce inflammation
Due to the omega-3 content, eating oily fish like salmon can help to reduce the effects of inflammation and help manage a variety of chronic diseases.
Omega-3s have anti-inflammatory properties. High levels of inflammation can raise your risk of chronic diseases over time, including cancer, diabetes, and arthritis.
5. It can help with weight management
One 3.5-ounce serving of salmon has roughly 200 calories and 20 grams of protein. It’s also low in saturated fat and cholesterol, making it part of a healthy weight-loss journey by providing key nutrients that keep your energy levels high.
Protein reduces levels of the body’s hunger hormone and boosts the levels of the hormone that makes you feel full. Eating enough protein helps promote muscle growth during exercise, too.
6. It can help regulate sleep
Salmon has an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps the body make melatonin and serotonin for proper mood regulation and sleep-wake cycle.
It’s also necessary for the production and maintenance of the body’s proteins, muscles, enzymes, and neurotransmitters.
Because your body cannot make it on its own, you must get it from your diet.
Healthy Salmon Recipes
Try these simple and filling salmon-centric meals for two.
Pan-seared honey garlic salmon
- 2 salmon fillets, 4 ounces each
- 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/6 cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 garlic clove, minced
- Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, place salmon fillets into the pan, and cook for about six minutes until deep golden brown.
- Flip fillets and cook until fish has cooked through and flakes easily with a fork.
- Whisk soy sauce, honey, and garlic in a bowl and drizzle the mixture over the fillets.
- Serve hot.
Salmon veggie bowl
- 1/2 lb. poached or canned salmon
- 2 carrots
- 1 zucchini
- 2 cooked, diced beetroot
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Spiralize zucchini and carrots into long spaghetti-like strips and pile onto two separate plates.
- Stir beetroot in balsamic vinegar in a small bowl and put over the piles.
- Add salmon chunks to meal, mix, and enjoy!
- 2 skinless salmon fillets, 1/2 lb. total
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon dill weed
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/4 lb. angel hair pasta
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves minced garlic
- Heat oven to 400°F.
- Place fish fillets in shallow oven dish.
- Mix mustard, dill, and lemon juice until blended, and evenly spread mixture on fish.
- Bake for 15 minutes or until fish has cooked through.
- Cook angel hair pasta in saucepan, adding broccoli to the boiling water when pasta is soft.
- Serve pasta with fish, top with fresh garlic.
About UPMC Nutrition Services
Nutrition is vital for maintaining your overall health. UPMC Nutrition Services offers comprehensive diet and nutrition counseling on a variety of topics, including eating disorders, weight management, and heart disease. Our team provides medical nutrition therapy for chronic conditions such as celiac disease, cancer, and diabetes. UPMC’s network of registered dietitians is available to help guide all patients toward a healthier life.