Salmon is a fatty, nutrient-rich fish that's low in mercury. This means that this extremely popular fish is a particularly healthy food choice. According to the American Heart Association, you should eat at least two 3.5-ounce servings of fish per week, and one of them should come from a fatty fish, like salmon.
The general guideline is to eat two 3.5-ounces of fish a week. Salmon certainly makes a healthy choice, and you can enjoy it for both the recommended servings.
Read more: The 14 Best Foods for Your Heart
Regular Consumption of Fish
According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans and the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health, most people should eat 8 ounces of fish each week. The American Heart Association recommends at least two 3.5 ounce servings per week. This isn't a strict amount — people can regularly consume between 6 and 12 ounces of seafood each week. The specific amount depends on the types of seafood you're consuming — you need to be careful not to consume too much mercury.
Different types of seafood products contain varying amounts of mercury. Fortunately, salmon and other popularly consumed fish (like light tuna, pollock and catfish) are some of the healthiest types to consume as they have such low mercury content. However, out of the most popularly consumed fish in the United States, salmon has the most healthy fats.
On average, Americans don't consume too much fish, even though you should eat fish or some type of seafood as a part of a balanced diet. Most Americans eat just 2.7 ounces per week (well under the recommended amount), which is roughly the size of a single serving of salmon.
However, fish is a healthy source of protein and has unique nutrients not found in many other animal products. Regardless of how much fish you're choosing to consume, selecting fish like salmon will help you increase your levels of healthy omega fatty acids and various essential vitamins and minerals.
Nutrients in Salmon
Salmon is filled with different nutrients. A 3-ounce serving of salmon contains 35 percent of your recommended daily value of protein and is filled with healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Salmon also contains a variety of beneficial vitamins and minerals. In each 3-ounce serving of Atlantic salmon, you can find:
- 12 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B1 (thiamin)
- 8 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
- 37 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B3 (niacin)
- 13 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)
- 27 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B6
- 6 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B9 (folate)
- 46 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin B12
- 6 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin C
- 15 percent of your recommended daily amount of vitamin E
- 6 percent of your recommended daily amount of magnesium
- 20 percent of your recommended daily amount of phosphorus
- 9 percent of your recommended daily amount of potassium
- 29 percent of your recommended daily amount of selenium
Certain types of salmon, like wild-caught Baltic salmon, are also a good source of vitamin D3. You should be aware that the nutrients in fish can change, depending on whether they're wild or farmed. As one of the most popularly consumed fish around the world, many different species of salmon are commonly available from both farmed and wild sources.
Benefits of Fish Consumption
Eating salmon regularly is extremely good for your health. Obviously, salmon is a highly nutritious food and a healthy source of protein. However, the benefits of fish like salmon are primarily linked to their healthy omega-3 fats. Consumption of fatty fish like salmon can help to:
- Improve your sleep and, consequently, affect how alert you are throughout the day
- Reduce your risk of heart disease
- Reduce your risk of developing latent autoimmune diabetes
- Reduce your risk of developing eye problems, like age-related macular degeneration
- Reduce neuropsychological problems, like depression and bipolar disorders
- Reduce your triglyceride levels
Although there are undoubtedly benefits associated with eating fish, it's important to remember to consume fish in moderation. There is, however, some debate about what constitutes a serving size. While the National Institutes of Health typically refers to a serving as 3 ounces, the American Heart Association calls a serving 3.5 ounces, and the FDA says a serving can range from 2 to 4 ounces. Understanding how much salmon you should actually consume in order to reap its benefits can be confusing.
In general, the benefits of fish like salmon can be seen after consuming just 8 ounces per week. This is the equivalent of two or two and a half portions of salmon each week. Consuming up to 12 ounces per week is recommended for most adults, though this refers to your total seafood consumption (which should ideally come from various different sources). If you chose to consume all of this recommended amount as salmon, that would be the equivalent of about three or four portions. Consuming much more than this could be bad for your health.
Downsides to Eating Fish
Salmon is a delicious food that's becoming increasingly easy to obtain worldwide. Whether you're eating sushi, blackened salmon or salmon fishcakes, it can be surprisingly easy to eat salmon regularly. Given the health benefits associated with fatty fish like salmon, you might even be tempted to consume this fish on a daily basis.
According to an interview on Today with Eric Rimm, director of cardiovascular epidemiology and professor of epidemiology and nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, most people eat fish daily without issue. However, while eating salmon every day over a short period of time could be healthy, excessive consumption of fish — even those that are low in mercury — could result in mercury buildup in your body.
Too much mercury can result in mercury poisoning, which can lead to neurological defects. Whether these problems are temporary or permanent will depend on your age — which is why children and pregnant women should eat less than the standard recommended amount of fish and even avoid consuming certain fish altogether.
While the average adult could be OK eating salmon every day, pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should limit their consumption of fish to 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week. They should also avoid certain high-mercury fish altogether and limit their amounts of fish like tuna. Since salmon is low in mercury, these 8 to 12 ounces could come from this fish without causing any health issues.
Read more: The 9 Safest Seafood Options
- Today: Eating Fish 2-3 Times a Week Is Recommended: What About Every Day?
- NIH: Omega-3 Fatty Acids Fact Sheet for Health Professionals
- FDA: Eating Fish: What Pregnant Women and Parents Should Know
- American Heart Association: Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids
- Mayo Clinic: Triglycerides: Why Do They Matter?
- Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: Omega-3 Fatty Acids and Depression: Scientific Evidence and Biological Mechanisms
- Archives of Ophthalmology: Dietary ω-3 Fatty Acid and Fish Intake and Incident Age-Related Macular Degeneration in Women
- Nutrition and Diabetes: Fatty Fish Consumption and Risk of Latent Autoimmune Diabetes in Adults
- American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Fish Consumption and Risk of Major Chronic Disease in Men
- Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine: Fish Consumption, Sleep, Daily Functioning, and Heart Rate Variability
- Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health: Is It Okay to Eat Fish Every Day?
- Journal of Nutrition: Quantitative Analysis of the Benefits and Risks of Consuming Farmed and Wild Salmon.
- Nutrition: Vitamin D: Can Fish Food-Based Solutions Be Used for Reduction of Vitamin D Deficiency In Poland?
- SELF Nutrition Data: Raw, Farmed, Atlantic Salmon
- Reader's Digest: If You Eat This Much Fish in a Week, Your Health Could Be in Danger
- A Framework for Assessing Effects of the Food System: Dietary Recommendations for Fish Consumption
- Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health: The Nutrition Source: Fish: Friend or Foe?