Whether it’s chopped up in a poke bowl or grilled to perfection alongside some fresh asparagus, salmon can be a delicious and healthy fish to enjoy any time of year. If you’re a lover of salmon, or any fish for that matter, chances are you’ve heard a lot of talk about possible salmon benefits related to your health. But, is there scientific evidence to back up these conversations?
Before we get into the research-based benefits of eating salmon, let’s quickly discuss the two main types you’ll see when you’re in the grocery store: farm-raised and wild-caught. While wild-caught is sourced from rivers and the ocean, farm-raised means the salmon was bred on a fish farm, which the United Nations predicts will provide about two-thirds of the world’s sold fish by 2030. Farm-raised is often cheaper, but both types of salmon are very similar when it comes to their nutritional value and both can benefit your health in a number of ways.
Read on to learn the health benefits of salmon. Then, for more healthy eating tips, make sure to check out The 12 Healthiest Fish You Should Be Eating—and 3 To Avoid.
1. You’ll get a boost of high-quality protein.
The good news for salmon lovers is that a 3-ounce serving of wild salmon has about 21 grams of complete protein. Wild-caught and farmed are both high in protein, but wild-caught (21.6 grams) has a bit more than farmed (17.3 grams).
Another great salmon benefit is that this flavorful fish is extremely high in a trace mineral called selenium, carrying about 70% of your daily recommended value per serving. But what does this mineral do? Among other benefits related to your heart and cognitive health, selenium is necessary for a healthy thyroid.
2. The selenium in salmon may support thyroid health.
According to the National Institute of Health, the thyroid is the organ in your body that holds the highest concentrated levels of selenium, and a report published in Molecules states that selenium is necessary for the function of your thyroid. Not only that, but a review published in Nature Reviews says that those who are deficient in this mineral may increase their risk of hyperthyroidism —a condition caused by an excess of thyroid hormones.
Have you ever felt extremely tired and lethargic, only to have someone recommend a B12 supplement to you? This is because vitamin B12 is an essential nutrient in maintaining a healthy system of nerve and blood cells in our body.
3. You’ll get plenty of vitamin B12.
When we are deficient in B12, we may experience weakness, weight loss, and even depression. And according to the National Institute of Health, we need B12 to help prevent megaloblastic anemia, a blood problem that can lead to lethargy and exhaustion.
Because our body can’t store its own B12, we have to get this vitamin from food or supplements. The good news is that salmon is overflowing with vitamin B12. To put it in perspective, the daily recommended intake of B12 is 2.4 micrograms, and there are around 2.38 micrograms of B12 in a 3-ounce fillet.
Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely beneficial for maintaining a healthy heart. You can find plant-based omega-3s (ALA) in foods like flaxseeds, chia seeds, and certain nuts, but fish are the best sources of the most bioactive forms of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA! Salmon is one of the richest sources with around 2,260 milligrams of omega-3s per 3.5 oz. filet.
According to Circulation, omega-3 fatty acids help our heart by lowering our triglyceride levels (fat that is carried in our blood) and increasing our body’s “good” cholesterol levels, which decreases our risk of heart disease.
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Chronic inflammation in our body can lead to a number of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and chronic pain. Thankfully, the omega-3 fatty acids found in salmon and other fatty fish have been linked to reducing inflammation.