Wellness Nutrition Nutrition Basics Is Salmon Good For You? Health Benefits of Salmon Salmon is good for your heart and provides a variety of nutrients that help keep your body functioning. By Maggie O'Neill Maggie O'Neill Maggie O’Neill is a health writer and reporter based in New York who specializes in covering medical research and emerging wellness trends, with a focus on cancer and addiction. Prior to her time at Health, her work appeared in the Observer, Good Housekeeping, CNN, and Vice. She was a fellow of the Association of Health Care Journalists’ 2020 class on Women’s Health Journalism and 2021 class on Cancer Reporting. In her spare time, she likes meditating, watching TikToks, and playing fetch with her dog, Finnegan. health's editorial guidelines Updated on May 26, 2023 Medically reviewed by Phoowanai Ektheerachaisakul, RDN, CDN, CNSC Medically reviewed by Phoowanai Ektheerachaisakul, RDN, CDN, CNSC Phoowanai Ektheerachaisakul, RDN, CDN, CNSC is a practicing clinical dietitian in the medical intensive care unit with NYC Health + Hospitals at Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn. learn more Share this page on Facebook Share this page on Twitter Share this page on Pinterest Email this page In This Article View All In This Article Aids in Muscle Recovery Is Sustainable May Protect Against Chronic Illnesses Supports Heart Health Nutrition Risks Tips for Consuming Salmon A Quick Review Salmon is a type of fatty fish that packs several nutrients that are good for you. The American Heart Association (AHA) advises eating fish, such as salmon, twice weekly because of its protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A standard serving size of fish is three ounces cooked or about 3/4 cups of flaked fish. Consuming fish like salmon has other benefits from nutrients, including copper, potassium, selenium, vitamin B12, and vitamin D to aid and maintain body functions. Eating fish and seafood over other animal products can be a sustainable choice to lower your carbon footprint. How sustainable your salmon is varies based on whether it is wild-caught or farmed-raised and other methods used that affect the environment. Read on to learn about salmon's benefits and possible risks and how to pick and prepare the fish. Adobe Stock Aids in Muscle Recovery Salmon is a good source of protein, with about 16 grams in one three-ounce serving. Protein aids cell production and repair and promotes muscle health. Not getting enough protein can lead to muscle loss. Incorporating salmon and other fish in your diet can help meet your protein needs better and build muscle. A study published in 2020 found that the protein content in salmon may help stimulate muscle protein synthesis after exercise. The researchers asked 10 active adults to perform resistance exercise, then consume salmon or crystalline amino acids and fish oil with 20 grams of protein. Is Sustainable Eating salmon can do more than boost your health. Salmon is a great choice if you want to be environmentally conscious. "Alaska Salmon is both wild and sustainable, good for the environment and good for us," Keri Gans, RDN, a registered dietitian nutrition based in New York, told Health. If farmed, salmon is more sustainable than other animal sources of protein. The process of farming salmon leaves a smaller carbon footprint by utilizing less land and resources. How To Make More Sustainable Food Choices May Protect Against Chronic Illnesses Astaxanthin is a carotenoid, or pigment—known as an active form of vitamin A—found in wild-caught salmon. Research has found that astaxanthin is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anticancer agent. Antioxidants may protect against cell damage that contributes to chronic illnesses, such as: Alzheimer’s disease Certain cancers Diabetes Eye diseases Heart diseases Parkinson’s disease Supports Heart Health The AHA advises eating omega-3 fatty acids as part of a heart-healthy diet. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3, which support heart health. Research has found that replacing saturated fats from animal sources with omega-6 fatty acids in fish helps reduce total blood cholesterol. Omega-3s in fish may help reduce mortality in people with coronary heart disease. Sometimes, healthcare providers advise supplementing with omega-3s to treat hypertriglyceridemia, or high triglycerides. Research has found that the omega-3s found in salmon: Decrease atherosclerosis, or buildup of fatty substances in the arteriesImprove the ability of the arteries to swell and boost the volume of blood they can transportIncrease HDL ("good") cholesterolLessen inflammationProtect against blockages of the coronary arteryReduce the risk of arrhythmias, or irregular heart rhythm Nutrition of Salmon One three-ounce serving of wild Atlantic salmon contains the following nutrients: Calories: 121Fat: 5.4gSaturated fat: 0.8gUnsaturated fat: 3.9gSodium: 37.4mgCarbohydrates: 0gFiber: 0gAdded sugars: 0gProtein: 16.8g 4 Heart-Healthy Salmon Recipes to Make Now Other essential vitamins and minerals in salmon include: Iron: Salmon is a good source of iron, which is crucial for many bodily processes. Iron helps transfer oxygen from your lungs to other tissues and supports muscle metabolism. Selenium: This element helps your body make antioxidants that prevent cell damage. Vitamin A: Salmon is rich in vitamin A, which supports healthy teeth, skin, eyesight, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. The fat in salmon can help with the absorption of vitamin A. Vitamin B3: Also known as niacin, vitamin B3 helps transform food into energy your body needs. Vitamin B3 aids in digestion and skin and nerve functions. Vitamin B12: Getting enough vitamin B12 helps prevent anemia, loss of appetite, nerve problems, and weakness. Vitamin D: Your body gets vitamin D from sunlight and foods like salmon. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, which builds strong bones. Vitamin D plays a key role in your nerve, muscle, and immune systems. Zinc: This essential mineral helps support immune function, cell growth, and wound healing. Risks of Salmon Generally, salmon is safe to consume. Some people with fish allergies may need to steer clear of salmon. You may only be allergic to certain types of fish, so take note if you develop symptoms after consuming salmon. Symptoms of fish allergies include: Anaphylaxis, or a reaction in which it is hard to breathe, and the body goes into shockAsthmaGastrointestinal symptoms (e.g., nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea)HeadacheHives or a skin rashSneezingStuffy or runny nose It is not uncommon for people to develop fish allergies during adulthood. Nearly 40% of people allergic to fish did not develop symptoms until adulthood. Sometimes, toxins can contaminate fish if they spend a lot of time at the bottom of the water. For example, a vast majority of fish have traces of mercury. Mercury can make people sick if consumed in large doses. Salmon has one of the lowest mercury levels. Experts claim that the benefits of salmon outweigh the risk of mercury poisoning. Tips for Consuming Salmon There are several types of salmon, including five species of Pacific salmon found in water near North America. Species of Pacific salmon include: ChinookChumCohoPinkSockeye Chinook is the largest Pacific salmon, weighing as much as 126 pounds and measuring up to 58 inches long. In contrast, pink is the smallest Pacific salmon, averaging three to five pounds and measuring up to 12 inches long. Atlantic is another type of salmon, which averages eight to 12 pounds and grows up to 30 inches long. The Best Salmon To Eat You can buy salmon fresh or frozen. There are also smoked and canned varieties of the fish. Keep some of the following in mind while purchasing fresh salmon: Salmon has a mild fresh smell rather than a fishy, ammonia-like one.The fish has clear, shiny eyes.The fish has a firm flesh that springs back if you press it. Frozen salmon may not have some traits, but the fish should smell fresh. You can tell salmon is unsafe to eat if any fishy, sour smells become pungent after cooking. Make sure that you prevent cross-contamination while handling raw fish. For example, wash your hands with soap and water and sanitize cutting boards, utensils, dishes, and countertops after touching raw fish. You can eat salmon cooked or raw, although cooking the fish reduces the risk of food poisoning. Only consume raw salmon that was previously frozen. A Quick Review Salmon is a sustainable choice that packs protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon helps support heart health by reducing total cholesterol and blood pressure, two risk factors for heart disease. There are many types of salmon. When purchasing fresh salmon, ensure the fish has a mild scent and firm flesh. You can eat salmon cooked or raw, but cooking the fish reduces the risk of food poisoning. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit 25 Sources Health.com uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. American Heart Association. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids. Department of Agriculture. Fish, salmon, Atlantic, wild, raw. Global Salmon Initiative. Facts on responsible salmon farming. Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch. Consider climate. Paulussen K, Salvador A, McKenna C, et al. Effects of salmon ingestion on post-exercise muscle protein synthesis: Exploration of whole protein foods versus isolated nutrients. Curr Dev Nutr. 2020;4(Suppl 2):650. doi:10.1093/cdn/nzaa049_043 Ambati RR, Phang SM, Ravi S, et al. Astaxanthin: Sources, extraction, stability, biological activities and its commercial applications--a review. Mar Drugs. 2014;12(1):128-152. doi:10.3390/md12010128 Fakhri S, Abbaszadeh F, Dargahi L, et al. Astaxanthin: A mechanistic review on its biological activities and health benefits. Pharmacol Res. 2018;136:1-20. doi:10.1016/j.phrs.2018.08.012 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Antioxidants: In depth. Sacks FM, Lichtenstein AH, Wu JHY, et al. Dietary fats and cardiovascular disease: A presidential advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2017;136(3):e1-e23. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000510 Rimm EB, Appel LJ, Chiuve SE, et al. Seafood long-chain n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and cardiovascular disease: A science advisory from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2018;138(1):e35-e47. doi:10.1161/CIR.0000000000000574 American Heart Association. Prescription omega-3 medications work for high triglycerides, advisory says. Chaddha A, Eagle KA. Cardiology patient Page. Omega-3 fatty acids and heart health. Circulation. 2015;132(22):e350-e352. doi:10.1161/CIRCULATIONAHA.114.015176 MedlinePlus. Iron in diet. MedlinePlus. Selenium. MedlinePlus. Vitamin A. MedlinePlus. Niacin. MedlinePlus. Vitamin B12. MedlinePlus. Vitamin D. MedlinePlus. Zinc in diet. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. Fish. Environmental Protection Agency. Fish and shellfish advisories and safe eating guidelines. Global Salmon Initiative. Farmed salmon: Low in mercury, high in health benefits. Department of the Interior. How many species of salmon are there and how large can they get?. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Atlantic salmon (protected). Food and Drug Administration. Selecting and serving fresh and frozen seafood safely.