Smoked salmon benefits your health because it's rich in a variety of nutrients, including essential vitamins, minerals, fats and protein. However, smoking fish typically involves salting it too. This means that certain smoked salmon products may be very rich in sodium.
Smoked salmon's health benefits are abundant, thanks to the variety of nutrients in this fish. However, you shouldn't consume it in excess, because certain smoked fish products may contain a substantial amount of sodium.
What Is Smoked Salmon?
Salmon is a very healthy fish. According to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, you should consume about 12 ounces of low-mercury seafood like salmon each week. This is equivalent to four 3-ounce (85 grams) servings of salmon.
Read more: The 9 Safest Seafood Options
Smoked salmon is often prepared by hot smoking or cold smoking. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, smoking is a curing technique that involves a combination of smoking and salting.
Hot smoking involves heat and results in a flaky, cooked fish. In contrast, cold smoking is done at lower temperatures and results in a product more similar to raw fish.
Don't confuse cold smoked salmon with products like lox or gravlax, though. Most lox and gravlax are cured through salting — not salting and smoking. While some delis and restaurants refer to this type of salmon as cold smoked, that terminology is technically incorrect.
The exact nutrition of your smoked salmon can vary based on the smoking technique that was used to cure it. The sodium content of your salmon is particularly likely to differ.
Smoked Salmon Nutrition Facts
Salmon is particularly healthy because it's rich in essential fats, known as omega fatty acids. According to the USDA, 3 ounces of smoked salmon has 3.7 grams of fat, 15.5 grams of protein and 99 calories. There are no carbohydrates in smoked salmon. Each 3-ounce serving of smoked salmon also has the following vitamins and minerals:
- 22 percent of the daily value (DV) for copper
- 11 percent of the DV for phosphorus
- 50 percent of the DV for selenium
- 7 percent of the DV for vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- 25 percent of the DV for vitamin B3 (niacin)
- 15 percent of the DV for vitamin B5
- 14 percent of the DV for vitamin B6
- 115 percent of the DV for vitamin B12
- 73 percent of the DV for vitamin D
- 8 percent of the DV for vitamin E
Smoked salmon also contains small amounts (between 1 and 4 percent) of many other essential nutrients, including vitamin A, vitamin B1, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc.
Smoked Salmon's Benefits and Disadvantages
Smoked salmon is extremely nutritious. Smoked salmon's benefits primarily come from its omega-3 fatty acids, selenium, vitamin B12 and vitamin D content.
The omega fatty acids in smoked salmon are particularly beneficial because certain omega-3 fatty acids can only be obtained from marine products. The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health says these healthy fats can help lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels and reduce inflammation.
Despite these nutritional benefits, you may want to limit your smoked salmon intake. According to the USDA, the sodium content of smoked salmon can be extremely variable. A 3-ounce serving of smoked salmon might have as little as 24 percent (571 milligrams) or as much as 71 percent (1,700 milligrams) of the DV for sodium.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. Ideally, people should consume as little as 1,500 milligrams of sodium. Excessive sodium consumption can increase your risk for cardiovascular, renal and gastrointestinal problems, including stomach cancer, kidney disease and high blood pressure.
The sodium in smoked salmon doesn't mean that it's unhealthy. However, try to avoid high-sodium smoked salmon when possible.
If you've purchased a high-sodium smoked salmon, consider eating it in smaller portions to reduce your daily sodium intake. For instance, a 1-ounce serving of smoked salmon with avocado can still make a healthy snack.
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: "Fish: Friend or Foe?"
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: "Standard for Smoked Fish, Smoke-Flavoured Fish and Smoke-Dried Fish: CXS 311-2013"
- USDA: "Smoked Salmon"
- USDA: "Nutrition Comparison of Cold Smoked Salmon vs Fish Salmon Chinook Smoked (Lox) Regular vs Smoked Salmon"
- American Heart Association: "How Much Sodium Should I Eat per Day?"
- American Heart Association: "Effects of Excess Sodium Infographic"