Salmon has a well-deserved reputation as a healthy food. It’s also one that I, as a nutritionist, can really get behind because there are actual health benefits to go along with all the hype – salmon really is a superfood!
Farmed vs. Wild
Before we get into the benefits, it’s worth thinking about what kind of salmon you’re putting on your plate.
If you have the option to choose between farmed salmon and wild, choose wild. There is much controversy surrounding the environmental impact of fish farming, and studies show that farmed salmon is higher in contaminants than wild salmon , which can negate some of the health benefits of consuming it.
Here are six reasons why salmon really is a superfood:
1. Healthy Fats
When it comes to fat, omega-3s are the king of the castle. The darlings of nutritionists everywhere, omega-3 fatty acids are really good for you. Pretty much everyone agrees on this, which is rare. These polyunsaturated fats support cardiovascular health and brain function, help reduce serum triglycerides, and support overall cognitive health.*
Salmon is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3s. Other cold water fish such as sardines and herring roe make the list too, but it’s no surprise that salmon, with its meaty texture and mild flavour, is wildly popular in comparison.
Fish is an especially wonderful way to get your omega-3s because it provides the long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, eicosapentaenoic and docosahexaenoic acid (EPA and DHA), that are found exclusively in seafood and marine algae. Plant sources consist of the short-chain omega-3 alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). While your body can synthesize EPA and DHA from ALA, it’s a lot more efficient to get those long-chain omegas straight from the source. For example, one 4 oz portion of cooked salmon, can provide approximately 2000 mg of omega-3s.
2. Sleep Support*
That sleepy feeling post-turkey dinner? You can get that just as easily from salmon.
L-tryptophan is an amino acid that the body needs to make melatonin, the key hormone that’s to thank (or blame, depending on what you had planned for the evening) for a good night’s rest. A 4 oz serving of salmon contains approximately 250–400 mg of L-tryptophan.
3. B Vitamins
B vitamins are essential for energy metabolism as well as proper tissue formation, and salmon is full of them – especially B2, B3, B6, and B12.* If you’re avoiding meat but still enjoying fish, salmon is a great way to ensure you’re still getting your vitamin B12. A 4 oz piece of salmon contains 5.7 mcg of B12, or 238% of the recommended daily intake.
Salmon offers major minerals such as phosphorus, which is responsible for maintaining healthy bones and teeth.* It’s also a great way to get trace minerals, such as the antioxidant mineral selenium. A 4 oz serving of salmon provides 365 mg of phosphorus, or 29% of the recommended daily intake.
Sure, this seems like a no-brainer – of course, salmon is a source of protein! But not all sources of protein are created equal.
Salmon also offers a full complement of the essential amino acids your body needs to be healthy, as well a few bonuses: for example, calcitonin is a protein that promotes healthy bones and joints.* 
Astaxanthin is a natural antioxidant found in salmon and other seafood – it’s a deep red, fat-soluble pigment that helps give Sockeye salmon its vibrant hue. It’s also one of the world’s most powerful carotenoids, with an ability to quench free radicals that are 6,000 times stronger than vitamin C and 550 times that of vitamin E. A 3 oz serving of Sockeye contains 3.2 mg.
Adding 2–3 servings of salmon a week is an excellent way to get all the nutrients above, and more. If fish isn’t for you, or you’d like to further increase your intake of marine-sourced nutrients, look into supplements featuring the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA as well as astaxanthin.
Salmon is best enjoyed when it is moist and tender, so avoid overcooking it. Serve it hot, or chill it and save for lunchtime salads. Keep an eye out for other foods with exceptional nutritional benefits on the Webber Naturals blog!
- Hites RA, Foran JA, Carpenter DO, et al. 2004; 303:5655.
- Sondergaard BC, Madse SH, Segovia-Silvestre T, et al. BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2010; 11:62.
- Zhang ZW, Xu X., Liu T, et al. Oxid Med Cell Longev. Published online 2015 Nov 16.