15 Surprising Ways Salmon Benefits Your Health May 23, 2017

Your body starts dropping hints when your health starts going south. Headache, weight gain, hair fall, skin problems, etc. are signs that should not be ignored. Instead of chewing tablets like popcorn, I suggest you start eating wild-caught salmon. Because salmon is one of the healthiest foods in the world. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of salmon per week as it is rich in omega-3-fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals that help reduce the risk of several diseases and symptoms (1). So, here are 15 reasons you should eat salmon to improve your health. But first, let’s see take a look at the nutritional content of salmon.

Salmon Nutrition Facts

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Half fillet of salmon contains:

  • Omega-3 fatty acids – 4023 mg
  • Omega-6 fatty acids – 1185 mg
  • Protein – 39.3 g
  • Vitamin A – 89.0 IU
  • Vitamin B6 – 1.2 mg
  • Vitamin B12 – 5.0 mcg
  • Vitamin C – 6.6 mg
  • Folate – 60.5 mcg
  • Niacin – 14.3 mg
  • Thiamin – 0.6 mg
  • Pantothenic acid – 2.6 mg
  • Carbs – 0 g
  • Calcium – 26.7 mg
  • Magnesium – 53.4 mg
  • Selenium – 73.7 mcg
  • Potassium – 683 mg
  • Phosphorus – 449 mg
  • Iron – 0.6 mg
  • Sodium – 109 mg
  • Calories – 367

Here are the ways eating salmon can be beneficial for you.

15 Health Benefits Of Salmon

1. Good For The Heart

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It is clear from the nutrition facts mentioned above that salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have multiple double bonds. EPA and DHA are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that are present in salmon. These help to reduce the serum triglyceride levels by reducing the LDL levels and increasing the degradation of the fatty acids (2). This prevents plaque formation and can protect you from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.

2. Aids Weight Loss

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Salmon is also a great source of protein along with omega-3 fatty acids. Both these nutrients have an effect on the body fat percentage. Proteins are tough to digest and hence can help you feel full for a longer duration, thereby making you eat less. Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation-induced weight gain, suppress appetite, improve circulation, boost metabolism, and reduce fat deposition by increasing fatty acid oxidation. So, you can get a slim and toned body if you consume salmon cooked the right way (3) (4).

3. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is dangerous. It can cause weight gain, joint pain, autoimmune response, gastric ulcers, and stroke. The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon, EPA and DHA, regulate the local hormones. These, in turn, regulate the cellular pathways and gene expression, which help suppress the proinflammatory biomolecules. This helps prevent migraine, arthritis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, inflammation-induced obesity, etc. (5).

4. Boosts Brain Performance

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The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon are important for your brain to function properly. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are neuroprotective in nature. Moreover, EPA and DHA help increase the neurite outgrowth in the brain developmental stages. DHA also helps in neural stem cell differentiation to mature neural cells. The omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to increase cognitive function in older women (6) (7). Hence, it is wise to consume the required amount of salmon to get your dose of omega-3 fatty acids to boost your brain functions.

5. Fights Cancer

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Cancer can be caused due to an imbalance in the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body, leading to toxic build-up, inflammation, and uncontrolled cell proliferation. Adding salmon to your diet can help increase the levels of omega-3 fatty acids, thereby reducing inflammation and toxicity in the body. In fact, many studies have proved that EPA and DHA can be used to treat cancer and prevent breast cancer progression. They can also help prevent chemo-induced muscle loss (8) (9).

6. Prevents ADHD In Children

The omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, play important but different roles in the body. DHA is responsible for pre and postnatal brain development while EPA helps to control mood and behavior. Researchers have found that administering DHA and EPA in certain combinations can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children. This combination was also found to be beneficial for autistic and dyslexic children (10).

7. Excellent Source Of Protein

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Only one-fourth cup of salmon can give you 13 g of protein – the building block of your body. Amino acids join to form proteins and so, it is important that you get the essential amino acids in the required amounts. Salmon is a great source of essential amino acids and lean protein. These will help you build lean muscle mass to get a more toned body, increase muscle power, prevent hair fall, suppress appetite, and improve skin, hair, and nail health (11).

8. Good Source Of Vitamin D

Salmon is also a great source of vitamin D, which helps to strengthen bones, reduce the risk of diabetes type 2, fight cancer, and prevent heart disease. If you are not an early bird and do not go out for walks or jogging, it is quite possible that you are not getting the required amount of vitamin D. Moreover, if you have very sensitive skin, it is better to avoid sun exposure. In such cases, you should consume salmon to help your body produce melanin, the pigment that helps protect the skin from UV rays as well as improve your overall health (12) (13).

9. Improves Macular Health

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The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) done by scientists showed that participants who regularly consumed omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods were at a lower risk of developing macular diseases. Since salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it is considered “the king” when it comes to improving eyesight (14). Your retina contains a good amount of DHA that regulates the activity of the membrane-bound enzymes and photoreceptors. Scientists have found that supplementing rats with DHA helped improve their vision (15).

10. Excellent Source Of Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant and salmon is a great source of selenium. About 3.5 pounds of salmon can provide you with 65% of the RDI of selenium. It helps fight cancer, regulates the production of the thyroid hormones, supports proper functioning of the immune system, counteracts the actions of HIV, helps lower the chances of miscarriage, promotes sperm motility, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, and may also help protect you from cardiovascular diseases (16). Selenium deficiency can decline your cognitive abilities.

11. Great Source Of Astaxanthin

Ever wonder why the flesh of salmon is orangish pink? That’s because salmon contains a good amount of the astaxanthin, which is also the reason why crabs and shrimps are orange. Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid that has powerful antioxidant properties and helps scavenge the harmful oxygen radicals. This, in turn, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammation. Astaxanthin cannot be synthesized by humans, but you can get a good amount of it by consuming salmon (17) (18).

12. Loaded With B Vitamins

Salmon is an excellent source of B vitamins. Here’s the list.

  • Vitamin B12 or Cobalamin – 51% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6 or Pyridoxine – 47% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B1 or Thiamin – 18% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B2 or Riboflavin – 29% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B3 or Niacin – 50% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B5 or Pantothenic acid – 19% of the RDI
  • Vitamin B9 or Folic acid – 9 % of the RDI

These vitamins each play a major role in maintaining optimum health. They help prevent osteoporosis and gastrointestinal problems, reduce the risk of fractures, help boost metabolism, improve brain function, keep the energy levels high, act as cofactors for various biological reactions, promote cellular calcium mobilization and cell differentiation, help in amino acid metabolism, and aid methylation of RNA, DNA, proteins, and phospholipids (19).

13. Prevents Hair Loss

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Salmon is a rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, and iron. These nutrients improve your scalp health, prevent hair fall by providing nourishment to the follicles, promote hair growth, and prevent your hair from looking lackluster (20). So, you must consume salmon to take care of your hair. However, if you cannot have salmon frequently, you can have fish oil supplements to prevent hair fall.

14. Improves Skin Health

As you age, fine lines, dark spots, and freckles start to appear. In fact, many young women have oily or dry skin that makes them prone to acne or flaky skin. Salmon is highly recommended if you want to improve your skin’s health. The omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D will help your cells produce collagen, keratin, and melanin. These will help your skin retain water, thereby reducing the wrinkles and fine lines. Astaxanthin helps to scavenge the bacteria and toxic oxygen radicals and improve skin elasticity, thereby reducing acne and dark spots (21) (22).

15. Helps Improve Mood

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Yes, salmon can also help uplift your mood. The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon help reduce inflammation and provide support to your emotional health. Almost 30% of certain brain cells is made up of DHA, and it is confirmed by scientists that people who suffer from depression have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids as compared to those who did not. You can get 2 g omega-3 fatty acids from a single serving of salmon, which can ward off blues and cheer you up (23).

It is clear from these 15 points that salmon is a must-have in your dinner or lunch. Also, prefer homemade food as it tends to be devoid of artificial color and flavor and is, of course, tastier. Here are a few easy and delicious salmon recipes for you to try.

Delicious Salmon Recipes

1. Roasted Salmon With Broccoli And Sweet Potato

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Total Time – 30 min; Prep Time – 20 min ; Serves – 2

Ingredients
  • 6 oz salmon fillet
  • 1 cup broccoli
  • 1 cup sweet potato wedges
  • ¼ cup chopped onion
  • 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped garlic
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper powder
  • 3-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
How To Prepare
  1. Preheat the oven to 450o F.
  2. Take a baking tray and toss the broccoli, onion, sweet potato, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper on it. Roast for 10-15 minutes.
  3. In the meanwhile, add salt, pepper, and lime juice to the salmon fillet and keep it aside.
  4. Take the baking tray out after 15 minutes and toss the salmon fillet into the baking tray with the veggies. Add the rosemary sprig on top and roast for 10 minutes.
  5. Enjoy a delicious and aromatic roasted salmon for dinner or lunch.

2. Honey Glazed Salmon

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Total Time – 30 min; Prep Time – 20 min ; Serves – 2

Ingredients
  • 6 oz salmon fillet
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons garlic paste
  • ½ teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 cup roughly chopped lettuce
  • ¼ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper powder
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
How To Prepare
  1. Add honey, lime juice, one teaspoon salt, one teaspoon pepper, cumin powder, and garlic paste to a bowl and mix well.
  2. Rub this mixture onto the salmon fillet and keep it aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat a frying pan and add the extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Add the onions and fry till they become translucent.
  5. Add the red bell pepper and a pinch of salt and pepper. Saute for 2 minutes.
  6. Transfer the sauteed onion and bell pepper to a container.
  7. In the same oil, fry the marinated salmon, 2-3 minutes on each side.
  8. Toss the chopped lettuce and celery on a serving plate. Sprinkle a little salt, pepper, and a little bit of lime juice.
  9. Add the sauteed veggies and then carefully place the hot and delicious salmon fillet.
  10. Finally, top it with fresh and green coriander leaves.

3. Delicious Salmon Salad

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Total Time – 20 min; Prep Time – 15 min ; Serves – 2

Ingredients
  • 6 oz steamed salmon
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 7-8 asparagus tips
  • ½ cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 cup zucchini ribbons
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lime juice
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • A handful of coriander leaves
How To Prepare
  1. Heat water in a saucepan till it starts boiling.
  2. Add salt and then add zucchini, asparagus tips, and baby spinach.
  3. Blanch for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Take the veggies out and immediately put them in ice water to stop the cooking.
  5. In the meanwhile, add yogurt, lime juice, olive oil, salt, pepper, and coriander leaves in a bowl and mix well.
  6. Use a fork to shred the steamed salmon.
  7. Chop the blanched asparagus and toss them into a salad bowl.
  8. Add blanched spinach and zucchini.
  9. Toss in the shredded salmon and fresh tomatoes. Mix well.
  10. Add the yogurt dressing and toss to mix.
  11. Add a few more coriander leaves to garnish.

These three recipes are delicious, quick, and nutritious. You can easily find the ingredients in the local supermarket and can pack them for your lunch at office or school. But can you store salmon for a longer duration? If yes, what’s the best way? Find out in the next section.

How To Select And Store Salmon

Choose fresh, frozen, canned, smoked or dried wild-caught Alaskan salmon. If you want to buy fresh salmon, buy it whole or opt for salmon fillet from the local fisherman or fish market. If you do not find fresh or frozen wild-caught salmon, choose canned salmon. If you do not have a fish market nearby, you should always buy wild-caught salmon from a reputed store.

You can also check whether the salmon is in the right condition by smelling it through the wrapping paper. Try to buy salmon with the skin as it will help preserve the flesh and also add flavor to the dish. Always store salmon in the refrigerator. If possible, put the salmon fillet on a baking tray and throw in some ice to keep the salmon fresh. To store it for a week, wrap the salmon in clean film and keep it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.

So, you see, it’s not that tough to select the best salmon and store it for at least a week. But you should keep the following points in mind before you buy salmon.

Salmon Safety

Due to an exponential rise in water pollution, most salmon are toxic. They contain heavy metals like mercury, persistent organic pollutants (POP), and pesticides. In fact, farmed salmon are most dangerous as they contain higher levels of these toxins. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon has the lowest levels of these toxins and is safe to consume. You should avoid consuming smoked salmon, especially if you are pregnant, as they are found to contain the highest levels of pollutants.

To conclude, salmon is delicious and has a myriad of health benefits. Just be careful while you buy and store it right to make it last longer. So, start consuming salmon and enjoy a disease-free life. Good luck!

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Charushila is an ISSA Certified Specialist in Fitness & Nutrition and a full-time contributor to Diet & Weight Loss at Stylecraze. She believes that food has healing powers and eating good food is the best way to lose weight. A binge eater-turned-fitness enthusiast, Charushila likes to share her knowledge and experience with the world. When she is not working, she loves to cook healthy food, watch movies, travel, workout, and read Bengali literature.