As a salmon lover, I’m always looking for new and tasty ways to enjoy this nutritious fish. Salmon is one of my favorite foods because it’s not only delicious, but also packed with healthy fats, protein, vitamins and minerals.
In this article, I’ll discuss recommended salmon serving sizes depending on your age, gender and activity level. I’ll also cover the incredible health benefits you can gain from eating salmon regularly. You’ll learn whether salmon contains dangerous levels of mercury, what the healthiest types of salmon are, and how to incorporate canned, smoked and raw salmon into your diet.
Let’s dive in!
Recommended Serving Size for Cooked Salmon
The recommended serving size for cooked salmon depends on your individual dietary needs. Here are some general guidelines from major health organizations:
- For adults, the American Heart Association recommends 3 to 4 ounces of fatty fish like salmon per week. This provides around 500mg of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids.
- Health Canada recommends 2 servings (150g) of oily fish per week as part of a healthy diet. A serving of cooked salmon is around 75-100g.
- For children aged 2-8 years, a child-sized palm is a good salmon serving size. Age 9-13 an adult palm-sized piece is adequate.
- Athletes or very active individuals may benefit from consuming up to 8oz salmon per day as the omega-3s aid exercise recovery.
- Pregnant women should limit intake to 2 servings per week due to mercury concerns. Avoid raw salmon due to risk of parasites.
- Older adults should eat 2 to 3 servings of oily fish like salmon per week for brain, eye and heart health.
As you can see, the recommended salmon serving per person varies. In general, 3 to 4 ounces of cooked salmon, 2 to 3 times per week is ideal for most adults. Adjust based on your age, gender and activity level.
Why Is Salmon So Nutritious?
Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Here are some of the biggest health benefits:
- High in Omega-3 fatty acids – Salmon is rich in the omega-3s EPA and DHA which are strongly anti-inflammatory and support heart, brain and eye health.
- Excellent Source of Protein – A 3 ounce serving of salmon contains 17g of high quality protein to support muscle growth and maintenance.
- Rich in B Vitamins – Salmon is an especially great source of vitamins B12 and B6 which support red blood cell production and nerve function.
- Packed with Potassium – Salmon provides about 10% of your RDI for potassium which regulates fluid balance and blood pressure.
- High in Selenium – Salmon is an abundant source of selenium, an antioxidant mineral that strengthens the immune system.
- Low Mercury – Compared to other fish, salmon tends to be low in mercury, making it safer for regular consumption.
No matter which cooking method you choose, incorporating salmon into your weekly meal plan is a great way to meet your nutrition needs.
Now let’s look at the different types of salmon and how to pick the healthiest option.
What Is The Healthiest Type Of Salmon?
There are a few different varieties of salmon to choose from at the grocery store. What are the differences and which is healthiest?
Wild salmon tends to be higher in omega-3s and lower in contaminants than farmed salmon. There are 5 main types of wild Pacific salmon:
- Sockeye salmon – Deepest red color and highest omega-3 content. Firmer texture.
- Coho salmon – Silver skin and flesh. Delicate flavor. Medium omega-3 content.
- King salmon – Buttery flavor. High in omega-3s but pricier.
- Pink salmon – Light pink flesh. More affordable. Lower fat content.
- Chum salmon – Lighter flesh. Stronger flavor. Lowest fat of all salmon types.
In terms of nutrition, sockeye salmon reigns supreme thanks to its incredibly high omega-3 content. But all wild salmon is an excellent choice.
Farmed salmon tends to be fattier and slightly lower in omega-3s. However it’s still a healthy option that’s affordable and widely available year-round. Atlantic farmed salmon is the most common variety.
No matter which salmon you choose, focus on wild-caught or sustainably raised. This ensures you get plenty of omega-3 fats and limits contaminant exposure.
Canned Salmon Nutrition
Canned salmon is an affordable and convenient way to reap the benefits of this superstar fish. Here’s a closer look at the nutrition you’ll gain from canned varieties like pink and sockeye salmon:
- High in Protein – A 3oz can contains about 22g protein to support muscle growth and appetite control.
- Lower Mercury – Canning process helps remove potential mercury and other contaminants.
- Source of Vitamin D – Canned salmon contains about 45% your daily needs for bone-strengthening vitamin D.
- Rich in B12 – A 3oz can has over 160% your RDI for vitamin B12 for red blood cell and nerve health.
- omega-3 Fatty Acids – While lower than fresh, canned salmon still provides heart-healthy omega-3 fats.
For a quick and easy salmon meal, try mixing a can of salmon with avocado, lettuce and tomato for a salmon salad. Or use canned salmon in pasta, tacos, sandwiches and casseroles.
A 3-4oz can makes the perfect single serving.
Smoked Salmon Nutrition Facts
Smoked salmon offers a delicious and nutritious alternative to fresh fish. Here’s an overview of its health benefits:
- High in Protein – A 3oz serving contains about 20g protein for satiety and muscle repair.
- Source of B Vitamins – Helps you meet your needs for metabolism-supporting B vitamins.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids – Contains anti-inflammatory omega-3s EPA and DHA, though less than fresh salmon.
- Rich in Minerals – Provides phosphorus, magnesium and potassium for bone, muscle and heart health.
- Loaded with Antioxidants – Smoking process creates antioxidant compounds that reduce cellular damage.
However, smoked salmon is very high in sodium content. A 3oz serving can contain over 1000mg sodium, nearly half your daily limit!
Those limiting sodium intake, like individuals with high blood pressure, should stick to a 1-2oz portion per week. Increase portion size if you are very active and lose a lot of sodium through sweat.
Overall smoked salmon is very healthy in moderation. Enjoy it on top of salads, scrambled eggs, avocado toast or rice bowls for a flavor and nutrition boost.
Is Raw Salmon Safe to Eat?
Raw salmon dishes like sashimi and crudo have grown in popularity for their delicate flavor and texture. However, is eating raw salmon safe?
Here are some tips for minimizing risk when eating raw salmon:
- Choose sushi-grade or sashimi-grade salmon which has been flash frozen to kill any parasites.
- Avoid raw salmon if you are pregnant, elderly or have a weakened immune system due to greater risk of foodborne illness.
- Only consume raw salmon from a trusted restaurant with strict food handling practices. Avoid doubtful venues.
- Follow the FDA recommendation to freeze salmon for 7 days at -4°F (-20°C) before consuming raw. This kills any parasites present.
- Opt for wild-caught Alaskan salmon which tends to have fewer contaminants than farmed varieties.
- Consume raw salmon in moderation, no more than 1-2 times per week.
With proper handling and sourcing, raw salmon is generally safe for most people to consume occasionally. Use caution and check with your doctor if you are in a higher risk group.
Is Eating Salmon Skin Healthy?
Previously salmon skin was typically discarded but its growing popularity has many people wondering – can you eat salmon skin and is it healthy?
Here are some key nutrition facts about salmon skin:
- Very High in Omega-3s – Salmon skin has the highest omega-3 content of any part of the fish.
- Great Source of Protein and B Vitamins – Contains about 6g protein and 35% DV for vitamin B12 per ounce of skin.
- Rich in Antioxidants – Contains carotenoid antioxidants that protect cells from damage by free radicals.
- Excellent Vitamin D Source – Provides about 90 IU vitamin D per ounce for immune and bone health.
- High Calories – Be mindful of portion size as salmon skin is twice the calories of salmon flesh.
Overall salmon skin can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Try to limit to 1-2 ounces per serving, pan-searing it until crispy for a nutrition and texture boost to your meal.
9 Science-Backed Health Benefits of Salmon
Beyond being rich in protein and omega-3s, eating salmon regularly provides a wide range of health benefits well-supported by scientific research.
Here are 9 evidence-based ways salmon can improve your wellbeing:
- Supports Heart Health – Eating salmon lowers triglycerides, raises good HDL cholesterol and improves artery function to reduce heart disease risk.
- Benefits Weight Control – The protein and omega-3 fatty acids in salmon increase satiety, boost metabolism and reduce inflammation for easier weight management.
- Protects Vision – The carotenoids and omega-3s in salmon support eye development and prevent age-related vision loss.
- Enhances Brain Function – Salmon helps elevate mood, boost memory and treat cognitive decline thanks to its omega-3 DHA content.
- Anti-Cancer Properties – Studies show salmon consumption reduces risk of several cancers including colorectal, breast and prostate.
- Improves Skin and Hair – Salmon’s omega-3 fatty acids help reduce acne, defend against skin cancer and contribute to shiny, healthy hair.
- Lowers Blood Pressure – Eating salmon is linked to reduced blood pressure levels to cut your risk of stroke and heart disease.
- Benefits Bones and Joints – The vitamin D in salmon optimizes calcium absorption for bone mineralization and preventing osteoporosis.
- Reduces Inflammation – Salmon’s rich omega-3 content has powerful anti-inflammatory effects to improve autoimmune conditions.
Salmon truly is one of the healthiest superfoods you can add to your regular diet. Enjoying it 2-3 times per week can provide huge benefits!
Tasty and Healthy Ways to Eat Salmon
Here are some of my favorite delicious, nutritious recipes for preparing salmon:
For Fresh Salmon
- Lemon Garlic Salmon – Pan sear salmon filets with olive oil, lemon juice and minced garlic for a quick and easy weeknight meal.
- Salmon Burgers – Combine canned salmon with breadcrumbs, eggs, chopped veggies and seasonings to make hearty, nutrient-packed salmon patties. Serve in a whole wheat bun with all the fixings.
- Teriyaki Glazed Salmon – Marinate salmon in a sweet and salty homemade teriyaki sauce then broil until the glaze caramelizes. Serve with spinach salad or brown rice.
For Smoked Salmon
- Smoked salmon and avocado toast – Top whole grain or seedy bread with creamy mashed avocado, smoked salmon, lemon juice and everything bagel seasoning.
- Smoked Salmon Bagel – Enjoy lox-style by layering smoked salmon, capers, red onion, tomato and cream cheese on an everything bagel.
- Smoked Salmon Frittata – Make this easy one-pan meal by baking eggs with spinach, feta cheese and smoked salmon for a protein and veggie packed breakfast.
For Canned Salmon
- Salmon Poke Bowl – Flake canned or leftover salmon over sushi rice with avocado, mango, seaweed salad, cucumber and pickled ginger. Drizzle with chili and sesame oil.
- Salmon Salad Sandwich – Mix canned salmon with light mayo, lemon juice, celery, parsley and pepper. Enjoy as a salad or sandwich filling.
- Mediterranean Salmon & Farro – Sauté canned salmon with onion and garlic, chili flakes, tomatoes and spinach. Toss with cooked farro and feta cheese.
For Raw Salmon
- Carpaccio – Thinly slice sushi grade salmon and arrange over arugula. Drizzle with lemon and olive oil. Garnish with capers, shaved parmesan and cracked black pepper.
- Salmon Tartare – Finely chop or dice wild salmon into bite-size pieces. Mix with lemon, shallots, mustard and olive oil. Serve with crostini.
- Sesame Salmon Sashimi – Enjoy raw sushi grade salmon dipped in tamari and sesame seeds. Serve with pickled ginger, wasabi and steamed edamame.
I hope this article provided you with a helpful overview on how much salmon per person you should eat based on your age and activity level. Consuming salmon 2-3 times per week is ideal for getting all the amazing health and nutrition benefits of this superfood fatty fish.
Whether you choose wild caught, farmed, canned, smoked or raw, salmon is one of the tastiest and healthiest protein sources you can add to your diet. With its abundance of protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats, and micronutrients, eating salmon regularly can boost your heart, brain, skin, joints and metabolic health.
So next time you’re grocery shopping or deciding what’s for dinner, consider picking up a fresh salmon filet or canned variety to enjoy all that salmon nutrition for yourself! Let me know if you have a favorite tasty salmon recipe I should try.