11 Health Benefits of Salmon and Nutrition Facts

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It would not be an overstatement to say that salmon is the best protein source available to humans, based on the nutritional science. Whilst some meat products have been associated with negative digestive and cancer-related effects, and many vegetable sources are not high-quality protein sources, fatty fish – and salmon in particular – is almost-perfect in both of these regards.

In this article, we will be discussing why we believe that Salmon is the best food for humans to eat, including a breakdown of the nutrients it contains and the health benefits that salmon has on a balanced diet.

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition facts

Per 100g cooked (raw)

Energy: 142 calories
Protein: 19.84g
Fat: 6.34g
Carbohydrates: nil

Vitamins:
A: 4% RDA
B1: 20% RDA
B2: 32% RDA
B3: 52% RDA
B5: 23% RDA
B6: 63% RDA
B9: 6%
B12: nil

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Calcium: 1% RDA
Iron: 6% RDA
Magnesium: 8% RDA
Phosphorous: 29% RDA
Potassium: 10% RDA
Zinc: 7% RDA

 

Salmon Health Benefits – Fatty fish and Omega-3

Salmon Health Benefits

Salmon is incredibly high in the essential Omega-3 fatty acids (primarily the long-chain EPA and DHA forms). Omega-3 has been very popular in recent years because our body cannot create it by itself, as with many other fats, and thus it is necessary that we consume a good amount of Omega-3 fats through the diet.

1. Omega 3 reduces inflammation

These compounds are involved in the reduction of inflammation by improving the ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 fatty acids, where a high ratio reduces inflammation and a low ratio promotes it [1]. Not only is salmon a great source of Omega-3 fats, but there are a very small number of other, effective sources for these in most people’s diets. Salmon is great for this because it is a fatty fish, whereas other animal and plant sources are not particularly good for this – for example, we can only convert around 10-15% of short-chain fish oil found in plant sources (ALA) to the longer forms that are so beneficial [2].

2. Omega 3 fats significantly improve blood lipid profile

The high-concentrations of Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon are also beneficial in the health of the blood, by improving the profile of blood lipids (fat cells that naturally exist in the bloodstream). Consumption of extra fish oils have been shown to lower the levels of triglyceride in the blood, as well as LDL or “bad” cholesterol [3, 4]. These are mostly relevant for those who already have a poor blood lipid profile, but these individuals will find huge benefits in increasing the amount of salmon in their diet (between 15 and 30% reduction in triglycerides) and have reduced risk of heart and blood problems.

3. Combats high blood pressure

High Blood Pressure

As well as improving the lipid profile of the blood, Omega-3s are also able to reduce the symptoms of hypertension – or high blood pressure – in those who are already suffering [5]. High blood pressure is an early indicator of serious health conditions such as stroke, heart attack and heart disease (the most common cause of death). There may also be some small affects in those who are already healthy, but these have not yet been shown to be statistically significant.

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4. Makes large improvements on fatty liver disease

The inclusion of extra DHA in the diet is also associated with an improvement in the lipid profile in the liver. Liver fat is a negative condition in itself, associated with liver failure and the reduction of proper liver function [6]. There are also reports of increased effect on other forms of fat deposit such as belly fat, but these are generally explained by the improvements in dietary lipid profile [7] and caloric restrictions.

5. Improve the symptoms of cognitive-behavioral disorders

Omega-3 fats are also incredibly important for the maintenance of proper brain health. This is unsurprising when we note that brain is 60% fat. Fish oils (EPA and DHA) have been shown to have incredibly positive effects on a number of mental health complications: the symptoms of depression [8], bipolar syndrome [9] and clinical anxiety [10] have all been shown to be reduced by supplementary intake of the oils that are found in huge quantities in Salmon. There are also early reports that increased fish oil intake may have positive effects for those suffering from ADHD [11] – whilst the evidence is not conclusive, there are effectively no negatives to eating Salmon so we may consider it a great addition to more traditional treatments.

6. Combats the risks and symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease

Long-chain Omega-3 fatty acids also have a protective effect on the brain during the ageing process – whilst the effect is relatively modest compared to clinical interventions, a diet high in DHA has been shown to reduce the symptoms and risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease [12]. Eating more salmon strikes us as a very safe, easy method for improving long-term mental health.

7. Improve the immune system – Omega-3

Those who are fond of intense or prolonged exercise should supplement fish oil, not only for the various benefits listed above, but also for the improved immune function that is associated with it. Omega-3 has been shown to improve immune function through a number of pathways, but primarily post-exercise [13]. Normally, exercise results in a short period of time where the body’s hormonal and immune functions are suppressed, but the consumption of extra fish oils reduce this affect and keep us healthy during and after exercise.

8. Reduces stress and improves general wellness and mood

Another result of intense exercise is the short-term release of Cortisol. This hormone has some positive and some negative effects, depending on how much we create and for how long it is circulating in the body. Often referred to as the stress hormone, it is essential for health bodily processes but excessive, prolonged exposure can suppress the immune system and is intimately tied to chronic stress and depression. Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have some positive effect on the regulation and reduction of cortisol production and circulation [14].

Nutrients: Macros and Micros of Salmon

Salmon Fillet

Macronutrients and Micronutrients are essential considerations for the nutritional value of a food and the health effects that we can expect from it. Macronutrients affect a variety of metabolic functions such as muscle-development, fat metabolism and the maintenance of the body’s hormones. A discussion of nutrition facts and health benefits would not be complete without a discussion of these.

Micronutrients are necessary for the maintenance of proper health and are often ignored by those who are focusing on their diet for the sake of body composition or athletic performance. Vitamins and minerals perform a wide variety of functions in the body, dealing with energy transfer, muscle development, immune function and cardiovascular health.

9. Salmon is an excellent food for fat loss

Salmon is an excellent food for both losing weight and building muscle. The calorie content of Salmon by itself is relatively low at approximately 142 calories per 100g [15] but this is mostly constituted by Protein (20g per 100) and the high-quality fats mentioned above (6.5g per 100). This means that it is an excellent protein source, with a complete amino acid profile and high bioavailability.

10. High in B vitamins, which improve enzyme processes in the body

Aside from an awesome macronutrient profile, Salmon is also fantastic due to its high vitamin B profile, with at least 30% of the daily recommendation for vitamins B2, B3 and B6 – vitamins that are generally associated with the production of enzymes and co-enzymes, making them essential for muscle development, cardiovascular health and bone health.

11. Contains novel and effective anti-oxidants, preventing chronic disease

Peptides are short chains of amino acids (proteins are long-chain amino acids) that have a variety of roles in the body based on their individual structure. The peptides found in salmon appear to have extra benefits associated with them: a recent study showed that they have novel antioxidant properties [16]. Antioxidants protect us from oxidative damage and “free radicals” which cause cell damage and may cause the development of cancers and other complications [17].

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References

[1] Simopoulos, A.P. (2002): ‘The importance of the ratio of Omega-6/Omega-3 essential fatty acids’. Biomedicine and pharmacotherapy, 56(8), pp.365-379
[2] Thomas, B.J. (2002): ‘Efficiency of conversion of alpha-linolenic acid into long chain n-3 fatty acids in man’. Current opinion in clinical nutrition and metabolic care, 5(2), pp.127-132
[3] Fakhrzadeh et al (2010): ‘The effects of low dose n-3 fatty acids on serum lipid profiles and insulin resistance of the elderly: a randomized controlled clinical trial’. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research, 80(2), pp.107-116
[4] Ciubotaru et al (2003): ‘dietary fish oil decreases C-reactive protein, interleukin-6 and triacylglycerol to HDL-cholesterol ratio in postmenopausal women on HRT’. Journal of nutritional biochemistry, 14(9), pp.513-521
[5] Campbell et al (2013): ‘A systematic review of fish-oil supplements for the prevention and treatment of hypertension’. European journal of preventative cardiology, 20(1), pp.107-120
[6] Pacifico et al (2015): ‘A double-blind, placebo-controllled randomized trial to evaluate the efficacy of docosahexaenoic acid supplementation on hepatic fat and associated cardiovascular risk factors in overweight children with nonalcoholic fatty liver syndrome’. Nutrition, metabolism and cardiovascular disease, 25(8), pp.734-741
[7] Mattson et al (1985): ‘Comparison of effects of dietary saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids on plasma lipids and lipoproteins in man’. Journal of Lipid research, 26, pp.194-202
[8] Sublette et al (2011): ‘Meta-analysis of the effects of eicosapentaenoic acid in clinical trials in depression’. Journal of clinical psychiatry, 72(12), pp.1577-1584
[9] Kiecolt-Glaser et al (2011): ‘Omega-3 supplementation lowers inflammation and anxiety in medical students: a randomized controlled trial’. Brain, behaviour and immunity, 25(8), pp.1725-1734
[10] Stoll et al (1999): ‘Omega 3 fatty acids in bipolar disorder: a preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled trial’. Archives of general psychiatry, 56(5), pp.407-412
[11] Bloch and Qawasami (2011): ‘Omega-3 fatty acid supplementation for the treatment of children with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder symptomatology: systematic review and meta-analysis’. Journal of the American academy of child and adolescent psychiatry¸ 50(10), pp.991-1000
[12] Arguello et al (2010): ‘Beneficial effects of docosahexaenoic acid on cognition in age-related cognitive decline’. Alzheimers and dementia, 6(6), 456-464
[13] Gray et al (2012): ‘Fish oil supplementation augments post-exercise immune function in young males’. Brain, behaviour and immunity, 26(8), pp.1265-1272
[14] Michaeli et al (2007): ‘Effects of fish oil on the neuro-endocrine reponses to an endotoxin challenge in healthy individuals’. Clinical nutrition, 26(1), pp.70-77
[15] USDA database [URL = https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/4558]
[16] Girgih et al (2013): ‘Antioxidant properties of Salmon protein hydrolysate and peptide fraction isolated by reverse-phase HPLC’. Food research international, 52(1), pp.315-322
[17] Ames, B.N. (1989): ‘Endogenous oxidative DNA damage, aging, and cancer’. Free radical research communications, 7, pp.121-128

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