Health Benefits Of Salmon

  • 1st Revision: Tan Jit Yih


We constantly hear that salmon is a superfood that is full of antioxidants, omega-3s and vitamins, and whilst that all sounds well and great- what does it all mean? What are all these nutrients and why are they important? What do we gain from including salmon in our diet? This article is going to take a deep dive into this popular fish and decipher all there is to know about this pink power ranger of a superfood!

About salmon

Salmon is a type of oily fatty fish. Varieties include Atlantic and Pacific characterised by their variation in pink colour and consistency. “Farmed fish” means they have been cage-raised, while“wild caught” means the salmon has been caught from its natural environment. All these factors result in varying nutritional value and benefits depending on the type of salmon consumed.1

Health benefits of salmon

Salmon is a widely recognised and popular food for dieting and aiding in weight loss due to being high in good quality protein. A high protein diet has been linked with successful weight loss due to protein being satiating and boosting metabolism.2

Moreover, salmon has also shown to improve bone health. This is due to salmon being high in micronutrients such as vitamin D and phosphorus, which are essential in maintaining bone strength and mineral density. Some research has also shown that inclusion of fatty fish has also led to reduced risk of osteoporosis in certain communities.3

Salmon also contains nutrients such as astaxanthin and vitamin A, and along with omega-3 fatty acids, has shown to support eye health and improve vision.4

Another important health benefit of salmon is its potential to protect against heart disease and improve heart health due to its high levels of omega-3.When the ratio of omega-3 to 6 is off, there is an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Consumption of salmon has shown to improve that ratio by boosting the amount of omega-3 and reducing the amount of omega-6. In addition, salmon has been shown to provide a reduction in triglycerides and overall blood cholesterol.5

Furthermore, eating salmon has also been linked to reducing inflammation in the body. Inflammation has been shown to be the root cause of most chronic conditions, including cancer, autoimmune conditions, diabetes, and heart disease.6 A recent study showed that inclusion of salmon in your diet was associated with a reduction in markers of inflammation such as white blood cell count.7

There is increasing data to show that the addition of salmon in your diet has been associated with improved brain health. Starting as early as pregnancy, inclusion of fatty fish has shown to preserve foetal brain health and function as well as preventing cognitive decline.8  A review based on healthy adults, also demonstrated that incorporating salmon resulted in enhanced cognitive function, structure and memory.9 Hand in hand with brain health, salmon consumption has also been linked to improved mental health. Although more research is currently being undertaken, there have been a handful of studies suggesting the link between omega-3 fatty acids and improvements in depression and mood.10

Nutrients we can get from salmon

Salmon is naturally free from sugar, fibre and carbohydrates. 

In general, the nutritional composition of salmon is predominantly:

63% Lipids 

As discussed throughout the article so far, salmon is rich in polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3 fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid). Omega-3 fatty acids are integral to the functioning of the cell membrane and receptors. These are the building blocks for hormone regulation and reducing inflammation. Thus,  omega-3s have demonstrated its role in the prevention of cardiovascular disease, arthritis, and autoimmune conditions such as lupus and arthritis.11 

37% Protein 

Salmon is a rich source of high-quality protein. It is considered a complete protein as it contains all the essential amino acids we need. Research has shown that 20-30g of protein is recommended per meal - 100g of salmon provides around 25g of protein per serving whilst remaining low in calories.2


As well as providing great sources of protein and fat, salmon also provides a variety of vitamins and minerals.11

Salmon provides a vast variety of B vitamins that are essential in DNA repair which helps aid in reducing inflammation within the body, hormone balance and improved metabolic function.12  

Salmon is also one of the few natural food sources of vitamin D, which is an essential micronutrient for bone health as it helps with increased absorption of calcium.13


Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that is most notable for giving salmon its famous pink colour. It has been shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease by improving blood HDL levels and reducing LDL. Astaxanthin also has the potential to reduce fatty buildup within the arteries and reduce overall risk factors for heart disease. It has the ability to reduce oxidative stress and inflammation within the body by working with omega-3 fatty acids to improve and optimise neurological pathways.14 This mineral has shown to be important for skin health, repair, maintenance of elasticity and protecting against skin damage.15   

Selenium, similar to phosphorus, is also found in salmon. It assists in improved bone health, andhas been shown to decrease levels of thyroid antibodies in people with autoimmune thyroid disease.16,17

Potassium is found most abundantly in wild varieties of salmon, maintaining fluid control and blood pressure which reduces the risk of stroke, as well as aiding in water retention.18

Ways to include salmon in our diet

There are many ways to include this incredibly diverse and delicious fish into your diet. Fortunately, in the world we live in today, salmon is widely available and affordable. When it comes to eating salmon, there are a plethora of ways it can be enjoyed. Having it cooked, grilled, or steamed are most popular,  as well as being smothered in a variety of delicious sauces and spices. You could also enjoy it raw in sushi and as sashimi in your favourite Japanese restaurant. Smoked salmon is also a popular way to include it in your diet, particularly at breakfast and brunch, normally accompanied by avocado or lashings of hollandaise sauce. Canned salmon can also be used in the same way as any of the other canned fishes like tuna and sardines, in sandwiches, salads or to make fish cakes- the possibilities are endless!

How much is enough?

Side effects and how much to consume

The data surrounding how much to consume varies slightly, with the consensus resting at one to two servings per week being sufficient. 

Studies have shown that implementing fatty fish such as salmon one to two times a week issufficient in meeting your omega-3 needs as well as reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and improving inflammation.7

So far we’ve talked about all the benefits of salmon but are there any side effects? 

Salmon as with all fish is not safe for consumption due to high levels of mercury. 

Mercury is a naturally occurring metal and its organic form of methylmercury is highly toxic and can lead to several health issues if consumed in a large amount. A study showed that high levels of heavy metals including mercury was linked to increased risks of brain disorders such as anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Additionally, mercury has also been linked to decreased motor functions in the brain as well as memory loss.19

Depending on the type of fish you consume there are varying levels of risks. Farmed fish have increased levels of antibiotics added to them contributing to the current antibiotic resistance issues which has shown to have long term effects.20

There have also been reports of certain types of salmon containing contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) which are known as endocrine disruptors, and have been linked heavily with the alteration of hormone levels and causing disruption in metabolic health. These contaminants have also been shown to have a negative impact on other aspects of health when consumed in high amounts, such as increased risk in developing cancer.21


In conclusion, salmon is an excellent high-quality protein source packed with a variety of essential micronutrients such as vitamin A, B and D, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids. It has been proven to have many health benefits particularly for weight loss, heart, bone health and more. It can be implemented as part of a healthy lifestyle through weekly consumption of one to two times. All the benefits of salmon highly outweigh any risks and overall, it is an excellent food source to start including in your weeknight dinners! 


  1. Pacific Salmon and Wildlife - Ecological Contexts, Relationships, and Implications for Management 2nd Edition | Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife [Internet]. [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from:
  2. Willoughby D, Hewlings S, Kalman D. Body Composition Changes in Weight Loss: Strategies and Supplementation for Maintaining Lean Body Mass, a Brief Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 10(12):1876. Available from:
  3. Shams-White MM, Chung M, Du M, Fu Z, Insogna KL, Karlsen MC, et al. Dietary protein and bone health: a systematic review and meta-analysis from the National Osteoporosis Foundation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2017; 105(6):1528–43. 
  4. Giannaccare G, Pellegrini M, Senni C, Bernabei F, Scorcia V, Cicero AFG. Clinical Applications of Astaxanthin in the Treatment of Ocular Diseases: Emerging Insights. Mar Drugs [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 18(5):239. Available from:
  5. Mariamenatu AH, Abdu EM. Overconsumption of Omega-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (PUFAs) versus Deficiency of Omega-3 PUFAs in Modern-Day Diets: The Disturbing Factor for Their “Balanced Antagonistic Metabolic Functions” in the Human Body. J Lipids [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 2021:8848161. Available from:
  6. Pahwa R, Goyal A, Jialal I. Chronic Inflammation. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from:
  7. Tani S, Kawauchi K, Atsumi W, Matsuo R, Ashida T, Imatake K, et al. Association among daily fish intake, white blood cell count, and healthy lifestyle behaviors in an apparently healthy Japanese population: implication for the anti-atherosclerotic effect of fish consumption. Heart Vessels. 2021; 36(7):924–33. 
  8. Middleton P, Gomersall JC, Gould JF, Shepherd E, Olsen SF, Makrides M. Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2018; 11(11):CD003402. 
  9. Kokubun K, Nemoto K, Yamakawa Y. Fish Intake May Affect Brain Structure and Improve Cognitive Ability in Healthy People. Front Aging Neurosci. 2020; 12:76. 
  10. Su K-P, Tseng P-T, Lin P-Y, Okubo R, Chen T-Y, Chen Y-W, et al. Association of Use of Omega-3 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids With Changes in Severity of Anxiety Symptoms. JAMA Netw Open [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 1(5):e182327. Available from:
  11. Kousoulaki K, Østbye T-KK, Krasnov A, Torgersen JS, Mørkøre T, Sweetman J. Metabolism, health and fillet nutritional quality in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) fed diets containing n-3-rich microalgae. J Nutr Sci [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 4:e24. Available from: .
  12. Kennedy DO. B Vitamins and the Brain: Mechanisms, Dose and Efficacy—A Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 8(2):68. Available from:
  13. Chauhan K, Shahrokhi M, Huecker MR. Vitamin D. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 [cited 2023 Mar 2]. Available from:
  14. Donoso A, González-Durán J, Muñoz AA, González PA, Agurto-Muñoz C. Therapeutic uses of natural astaxanthin: An evidence-based review focused on human clinical trials. Pharmacol Res. 2021; 166:105479. 
  15. Davinelli S, Nielsen ME, Scapagnini G. Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 10(4):522. Available from:
  16. Beukhof CM, Medici M, Beld AW van den, Hollenbach B, Hoeg A, Visser WE, et al. Selenium Status Is Positively Associated with Bone Mineral Density in Healthy Aging European Men. PLoS One [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 11(4):e0152748. Available from:
  17. Ventura M, Melo M, Carrilho F. Selenium and Thyroid Disease: From Pathophysiology to Treatment. Int J Endocrinol [Internet]. 2017 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 2017:1297658. Available from:
  18. Ellison DH, Terker AS. Why Your Mother Was Right: How Potassium Intake Reduces Blood Pressure. Trans Am Clin Climatol Assoc [Internet]. 2015 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 126:46–55. Available from:
  19. Karimi R, Fitzgerald TP, Fisher NS. A Quantitative Synthesis of Mercury in Commercial Seafood and Implications for Exposure in the United States. Environ Health Perspect [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 120(11):1512–9. Available from:
  20. Miranda CD, Godoy FA, Lee MR. Current Status of the Use of Antibiotics and the Antimicrobial Resistance in the Chilean Salmon Farms. Frontiers in Microbiology [Internet]. 2018 [cited 2023 Mar 2]; 9. Available from:
  21. Jensen I-J, Eilertsen K-E, Otnæs CHA, Mæhre HK, Elvevoll EO. An Update on the Content of Fatty Acids, Dioxins, PCBs and Heavy Metals in Farmed, Escaped and Wild Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) in Norway. Foods. 2020; 9(12):1901. 
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Sarah Nadiri

Masters in Cancer, MSc University College London, London

Sarah is a registered biomedical scientist with a specialty in cancer research studies. She has five years experience working in various research facilities such as the Cancer Institute and The Francis Crick Institute. Additionally she has experience working in clinics, in various hospital labs around London and various intermediary care roles within the NHS. She joined Klarity in February and is currently contributing as a medical writer.

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