Salmon is packed with essential nutrients -- especially protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. Grilling salmon is one of the most heart-healthy ways to prepare it. However, pregnant and nursing women and young children should avoid consuming more than 12 ounces of grilled salmon weekly, due to potential contaminants present in salmon and other fish living in polluted waters.
Although grilled salmon is full of nutrients, it’s actually fairly low in calories. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, a 3-ounce portion -- about the size of a checkbook -- of salmon cooked using dry heat contains about 155 calories. That's about 8 percent of daily calories on a typical 2,000-calorie diet.
Eating grilled salmon puts you well on your way to fulfilling your daily protein needs. A 3-ounce portion of grilled salmon contains about 22 grams of dietary protein, notes the USDA. Since salmon is a high-quality, complete protein, it provides you with all the essential amino acids your body requires daily. The Institute of Medicine reports that the protein recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, is 71 grams daily for pregnant and nursing women, 46 grams for other adult women and 56 grams of protein per day for men.
Carbs and Fat
Grilled salmon is a carb-free food but abounds with heart-healthy, unsaturated fatty acids. Three ounces of salmon cooked using dry heat contains about 7 grams of dietary fat, according to the USDA. Of these 7 grams, 5 are mono- and polyunsaturated fats, including omega-3 fatty acids -- which help reduce inflammation and heart disease risks, according to a 2012 review in the “British Journal of Nutrition.”
Vitamins and Minerals
Micronutrients abundant in grilled salmon include potassium, phosphorus, vitamin B-12 and niacin. A 3-ounce portion of grilled salmon contains about 8.6 milligrams of niacin, according to the USDA. The niacin RDA is 14 grams for women and 16 grams daily for men, notes the Institute of Medicine. Also present in salmon -- in smaller amounts -- are vitamin A, folate, magnesium, zinc and iron. Although salmon only provides about 1 gram of dietary iron, the heme iron found in fish, poultry and red meat is more readily absorbed by your body than most plant-based, iron-rich foods, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Release 26: Basic Report: 15209, Fish, Salmon, Atlantic, Wild, Cooked, Dry Heat
- University of Washington: Weight Management
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients
- British Journal of Nutrition: Omega-3 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Supplementation on Inflammatory Biomarkers: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials
- Institute of Medicine: Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs): Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Vitamins
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Iron