✓ Evidence Based

Salmon: Facts, Nutrition, Benefits & More

Salmon may be considered one of the most nutritious foods there is in the world. Not only is it loaded with tons of different nutrients, but it also tastes good too.

On top of that, salmon is known to have tons of health benefits. Although there are several types of salmon out there and on the market, in general, they have similar amounts of nutrients.

Keep reading to find out all you need to know about salmon.

History and Facts

Although you may think of salmon as one type of fish, technically it is a common name for several varieties of fish from the family Salmonidae, which are native to the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Salmon is considered the most farmed aquatic fish and it is also the most eaten. Salmon being fished by humans is estimated to date back to the Neanderthal period 200,000 years ago, to the beginning of time. All salmon are what are known as anadromous, meaning they are born in fresh-water, will later live in salt water, and then return to freshwater to spawn.

Back in the 1960s, salmon began to be farmed more commonly, specifically in Scotland and Norway, due to the population of salmon decreasing during that time.  This is how the farming salmon industry began.

Summary:Salmon is the common name for several varieties of fish and has been fished by humans since the beginning of time.

Types of salmon

Today, there are about 6 common species of salmon that are used throughout the world. These include the Royal (Chinook) salmon, Red salmon (Sockeye), Silver (Coho), Pink salmon, Keta (Dog) salmon, and the Atlantic (Salmo) salmon. Atlantic salmon is the most popular and consumed of all of them. The nutritional value of these salmon somewhat varies, however, is mostly similar. The taste and appearance of these different types of salmon have several differences.

Fun Fact:Sockeye and chinook salmon live about three to five years and can even live up to eight years.

Nutrition Facts

The nutritional value of salmon can vary depending on the variety of salmon it is.

For example, farmed salmon contains slightly more healthy fats and calories, whereas wild-caught salmon is a bit higher in protein (1, 2).

This article will highlight the nutrition facts of both wild and farmed Atlantic salmon to highlight similarities and differences between the two.


In a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of farmed Atlantic salmon there are the following macronutrients (3):

  • Calories: 177 calories (kcal)
  • Protein: 17.3 grams (g)
  • Fat: 11.4 grams (g)
    • Saturated fat: 2.6 grams (g)
    • Monounsaturated fat: 3.2 grams (g)
    • Polyunsaturated: 3.3 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrate: 0 grams (g)
  • Fiber: 0 grams (g)

In a 3-ounce (85-gram) serving of wild Atlantic salmon there are the following macronutrients (4):

  • Calories: 121 calories (kcal)
  • Protein: 16.8 grams (g)
  • Fat: 5.4 grams (g)
    • Saturated fat: 0.8 grams (g)
    • Monounsaturated fat: 1.78 grams (g)
    • Polyunsaturated:2.16 grams (g)
  • Carbohydrate: 0 grams (g)
  • Fiber: 0 grams (g)

As you can see, the amount of calories and protein is very similar between farmed and wild-caught salmon, with the amount of protein being quite substantial (5, 6). The fat content, however, is quite different. Although farmed salmon contains more polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fat, it is also quite high in saturated fat. Whereas wild-caught salmon are relatively lower in overall fat, especially saturated fat. Saturated fat can have negative effects on health and should be consumed in moderation. They are both great sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which is a type of heart-healthy fat. Consuming adequate amounts of omega-3 fatty acids can decrease inflammation, and support brain and heart health (7).

Summary:Both farmed and wild Atlantic salmon contain similar amounts of protein and calories, however, vary with their fat content. Farmed salmon typically contains higher amounts of saturated fats but both contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

Vitamins and Minerals

In one 3-ounce serving of Atlantic farmed salmon, there are the following vitamins and minerals (8):

  • Calcium: 7.65 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 23 milligrams (mg)
  • Phosphorus: 204 milligrams (mg)
  • Potassium: 309 milligrams (mg)
  • Sodium: 50.2 milligrams (mg)
  • Selenium: 20.4 micrograms (mcg)
  • Folate: 22.1 micrograms (mcg)
  • Choline: 66.7 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin A: 49.3 micrograms (mcg), 164 IU
  • Vitamin E: 3.02 milligrams (mg)
  • Vitamin D (D2 + D3): 375 IU, 9.35 micrograms (mcg)

In one 3-ounce serving of Atlantic wild salmon, there are the following vitamins and minerals (9):

  • Calcium: 10.2 milligrams (mg)
  • Magnesium: 24.6 milligrams (mg)
  • Phosphorus: 170 milligrams (mg)
  • Potassium: 416 milligrams (mg)
  • Sodium: 37.4 milligrams (mg)
  • Selenium: 31 micrograms (mcg)
  • Folate: 21.2 micrograms (mcg)
  • Vitamin A: 10.2 micrograms (mcg), 34 IU

Looking at these types of salmon, both are great sources of many key nutrients, including selenium, phosphorus, and B vitamins (10, 11). Selenium is an important nutrient that is involved in metabolic processes throughout the body like thyroid hormone metabolism, reproductive health, and DNA synthesis (12). They are also both high in B vitamins, which are necessary for producing red blood cells and regulating the health of the central nervous system.

Summary:Both wild and farmed Atlantic salmon contain similar amounts of nutrients, both high in selenium and B vitamins which are important for several processes throughout the body.

Health Benefits

In addition to the variety of nutrients that salmon contains, salmon also offers many health benefits.

Great Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon is often known for being one of the highest food sources of healthy fatty acids, specifically the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The three main omega-3 fatty acids include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and are considered “essential” (13). This means that they must be obtained through diet because human bodies cannot create them on their own. The daily general recommendation for adults is to have at least two servings of fish (salmon if able) per week to get an adequate amount of EPA and DHA (14).

EPA and DHA have been extensively researched for their impressive health benefits. Consuming an adequate amount of EPA and DHA has been found to decrease inflammation, lower blood pressure, and reduce the risk of cancer.

Summary:Salmon is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, mostly EPA and DHA. Both of these fatty acids have positive health effects like decreasing inflammation and lowering blood pressure and cancer risk.

May Help With Weight Management

Although salmon is high in fat, it is considered a lean protein. This is because it is high in healthy fats like polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids. Because it is a lean protein, it can help with feeling full quicker and longer, which can help prevent overeating. In the long run, this can promote a healthy weight and even weight loss for some. It is an excellent alternative to red meat options.

Some studies have found that those who increased how much fatty fish they ate lost more weight than those who didn’t. Additionally, they were found to have lower levels of inflammation present.

Summary:Because salmon is a great lean protein source, it can help decrease satiety and prevent overeating, which may help with promoting a healthy weight for some.

May Promote Brain Health

Omega 3 fatty acids are essential to support a healthy body and brain. The brain requires healthy fatty acids to maintain memory, cognition, concentration, and more. Since salmon is full of omega-3 fatty acids, it may even have potent health benefits for the brain overall.
One study by the National Institutes of Health shows that certain nutrients like fatty fish help to boost cognition and memory (15). Those pieces, in connection with a healthy diet and lifestyle including exercise, make up a recipe for a healthy brain. Omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients also protect the brain from damage and may even promote repair for some (16).

Summary:Eating fatty fish like salmon has been found to possibly boost cognition, memory, and overall brain health.

Ways to Consume

Salmon can be one of the more challenging foods to figure out how to fit into one’s diet. However, not at all impossible!

Here are some ideas for incorporating more salmon into your diet:

  • Try different cooking methods for preparing salmon like grilling, baking, or pan-frying.
  • Top it on your favorite salad with greens, vegetables, and a tasty dressing.
  • Enjoy it for a traditional breakfast with smoked salmon, cream cheese, and capers on a bagel or slice of whole-grain bread.
  • Use salmon in place of a chicken or tuna salad with mayo and relish.
  • Try it in your favorite salmon dish.
  • Put it in the air fryer for a healthy alternative to a deep-fried entrée.

Fun Fact:Some salmon can jump out of the water as high as 12 feet in the air.

Potential Risks

Though salmon is a nutrient-dense food and can be a great addition to a balanced diet, there are a few risks to consider when it comes to this protein source.

  • May Contain Contaminants: Salmon (both wild and farmed) has been known to sometimes contain contaminants including polychlorinated biphenyls and dioxin (17). These substances have been found to have negative effects on health when consumed in high amounts. It may also have an impact on hormone levels throughout the body. There are rules that the government bodies have in place, however, to regulate this problem.
  • Contains Mercury: Salmon contains some mercury (18). Although the amount of mercury in salmon is much lower than in other types of fish like shark and swordfish, it is something to be aware of. Mercury is known to cause harmful effects on the body and brain when consumed in high amounts (19). It may even cause health problems for some people. For those who are pregnant especially, salmon should be limited to 2-3 servings per week and it should not be consumed raw.

Summary:Salmon is considered part of an overall balanced diet, although it does contain mercury and contaminants which can have negative health effects when it is consumed in excess.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I eat the skin of the salmon?

Yes, salmon skin is completely fine to eat. The skin contains even more minerals and nutrients than are in the salmon itself. It may just taste a bit fishier but many love it that way.

What’s the difference between salmon and trout?

Although they look similar, salmon and trout are quite different. The basic difference between salmon and trout is that trout can spawn multiple times in their lifetime, while salmon spawn only once. Trout is typically less fatty than salmon and the meat is a little bit denser in texture.

How often should I consume salmon?

The general recommendation for consuming fatty fish like salmon is to eat at least two servings per week (20).

Fun Fact:The king salmon (or chinook salmon) can be as long as 5 feet and weigh over 100 pounds!


Salmon is a tasty protein-packed food that contains tons of nutrients.

Additionally, salmon offers several health benefits like heart health, brain health, and can help keep you full and prevent overeating.

The general recommendation for salmon is to eat at least two servings per week.

Salmon can be prepared in a variety of ways that are satisfying to the taste buds. Adding this fatty fish as a regular part of your diet may very well improve your quality of life and your health.