Salmon, a fatty fish promoted for its high omega-3 fatty acid content, can be purchased fresh or frozen. Although many people believe that fresh salmon is better for you, there is no scientific evidence that freezing fish changes its nutritional status and some argue that frozen tastes even fresher, especially when frozen at the peak of freshness. Salmon comes in several different varieties based on species. The nutrient content between species can vary, making one type of salmon healthier than another. The following nutritional information is based on Atlantic farm-raised salmon, one of the most popular species consumed in the United States, to demonstrate just how healthy fresh or frozen salmon fillets are.
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Dietary protein provides the human body with essential amino acids – those substances the body needs to build the thousands of other proteins needed to support biological reactions and build muscle cells. Animal proteins such as meat and fish provide complete protein, which means it contains all of the amino acids the body needs. Although protein is important, you must also pay attention to the other dietary components, like fat, packaged with the protein. Red meat is an excellent source of complete protein, with 38 g of protein in a 6 oz. serving. Along with that protein, though, you will consume 44 g of fat, 16 g of which is saturated fat -- nearly the entire daily amount of saturated fat recommended. The same serving size of salmon provides 34 g of protein with only 18 g of fat, of which only 4 g consist of saturated fat. The high protein content along with low saturated fat content makes frozen salmon fillets a healthy choice.
The majority of fat in frozen salmon fillets consists of unsaturated fats – considered healthy by the American Heart Association because they help lower blood cholesterol levels. Salmon contains 3.8 g of monounsaturated fatty acids and 3.8 g of polyunsaturated fatty acids in each 3 oz. serving. Salmon also serves as a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential fatty acids vital to brain function. These fatty acids also help reduce inflammation, which can help reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as heart disease.
Salmon provides many essential vitamins – organic compounds needed to support life functions. A 3 oz. serving contains 2.38 micrograms of vitamin B-12, which supports the formation of healthy red blood cells. That represents nearly the entire daily recommended intake, listed by the National Institute of Medicine as 2.4 micrograms per day. Frozen salmon also serves as a good source of other B vitamins, including niacin, pantothenic acid, folate and vitamin B-6. Salmon also provides vitamin A and a small amount of vitamin C.
The body uses the essential minerals calcium and phosphorus to build strong bones and teeth. Salmon contains 13 mg of calcium and 214 mg of phosphorus in a 3 oz. serving. Salmon also serves as a good source of magnesium, potassium and selenium. The mineral content along with the vitamins, protein and omega-3 fatty acids made frozen salmon fillets a healthy addition to your diet.
- Harvard School of Public Health: Protein – The Bottom Line
- National Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board: Dietary Reference Intakes; 2004
- American Heart Association: Know Your Fats; March 2011
- USDA Beltsville Human Nutrition Research Center: Nutrient Content and Variability in Newly Obtained Salmon Data; Exler and Pehrsson
- USDA National Nutrient Database: Atlantic Salmon, farm-raised, cooked; 2010