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11 Health Benefits of Eating Salmon

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11 Health Benefits of Eating Salmon

By Franziska Spritzler

Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet.

This popular fatty fish is loaded with nutrients and may reduce risk factors for several diseases. It's also tasty, versatile and widely available.

Here are 11 amazing health benefits of salmon.

1. Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon is one of the best sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.

A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) portion of farmed salmon has 2.3 grams of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, while the same portion of wild salmon contains 2.6 grams (1, 2).

Unlike most other fats, omega-3 fats are considered "essential," meaning you must get them from your diet since your body can't create them.

Although there is no recommended daily intake (RDI) of omega-3 fatty acids, many health organizations recommend that healthy adults get a minimum of 250–500 mg of combined EPA and DHA per day (3).

EPA and DHA have been credited with several health benefits, such as decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, reducing the risk of cancer and improving the function of the cells that line your arteries (4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

A 2012 analysis of 16 controlled studies found that taking 0.45–4.5 grams of omega-3 fatty acids per day led to significant improvements in arterial function (8).

What's more, studies have shown that getting these omega-3 fats from fish increases levels in your body just as effectively as supplementing with fish oil capsules (9, 10).

As for how much fish to eat, consuming at least two servings of salmon per week can help meet your omega-3 fatty acid needs.

Bottom Line: Salmon is rich in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce inflammation, lower blood pressure and decrease risk factors for disease.

2. Great Source of Protein

Salmon is rich in high-quality protein.

Like omega-3 fats, protein is an essential nutrient that must be consumed through your diet.

Protein plays a number of important roles in the body, including helping your body heal after injury, protecting bone health and maintaining muscle mass during weight loss and the aging process (11, 12, 13, 14, 15).

Recent research has found that for optimal health, each meal should provide at least 20–30 grams of high-quality protein (16).

A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon contains 22–25 grams of protein (1, 2).

Bottom Line: Your body requires protein to heal, protect bone health and prevent muscle loss, among other things. Salmon provides 22–25 grams of protein per 3.5-ounce serving.

3. High in B Vitamins

Salmon is an excellent source of B vitamins.

Below is the B vitamin content in 3.5 ounces (100 grams) of wild salmon (2):

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamin): 18 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): 29 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin): 50 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): 19 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B6: 47 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B9 (folic acid): 7 percent of the RDI
  • Vitamin B12: 51 percent of the RDI

These vitamins are involved in several important processes in your body, including turning the food you eat into energy, creating and repairing DNA and reducing the inflammation that can lead to heart disease (17).

Studies have shown that all of the B vitamins work together to maintain optimal functioning of your brain and nervous system. Unfortunately, even people in developed countries may become deficient in one or more of these vitamins (18).

Bottom Line: Salmon is an excellent source of several B vitamins, which are needed for energy production, controlling inflammation and protecting heart and brain health.

4. Good Source of Potassium

Salmon is quite high in potassium.

This is especially true of wild salmon, which provides 18 percent of the RDI per 3.5 ounces, versus 11 percent for farmed (1, 2).

In fact, salmon contains more potassium than an equivalent amount of banana, which provides 10 percent of the RDI (19).

Potassium helps control your blood pressure. It also reduces your risk of stroke (20, 21, 22).

A large analysis of 31 studies found that supplementing with potassium significantly reduced blood pressure, especially when added to a high-sodium diet (22).

One of the ways in which potassium lowers blood pressure is by preventing excess water retention.

One study found that restricting potassium led to an increase in water retention and blood pressure in healthy people with normal blood pressure (23).

Bottom Line: 100 grams of salmon provide 11–18 percent of the RDI of potassium, which helps control blood pressure and prevent excess fluid retention.

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