Is Smoked Salmon Healthy

You’ll get half your DV for selenium in a 3-ounce portion of smoked salmon.

Top 5 health benefits of smoked salmon

Smoked salmon, quinoa & dill lunch pot

Is smoked salmon good for you, and what does a healthy portion size look like? We asked registered nutritionist Nicola Shubrook to take a closer look at this flavoursome ingredient.

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What is smoked salmon?

Smoked salmon is produced by curing the salmon flesh with either hot or cold smoke. The method used imparts a unique taste and texture of its own.

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Nutritional benefits of smoked salmon

A 100g serving of smoked (cold) salmon contains:

  • 184 kcals / 769 kJ
  • 22.8g protein
  • 10.1g fat
  • 0.5g carbohydrates
  • 19mcg selenium
  • 8.9mcg vitamin D
  • 3.06mg salt

Smoked salmon canapes

What are the 5 top health benefits of smoked salmon?

1. May support a healthy heart

Oily fish like salmon are rich in a type of polyunsaturated fat called omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids are essential because the body cannot produce them, so we must include them regularly in our diet. The most beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, known as long chain, occur naturally in oily fish in the form of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are thought to contribute to a healthy heart and help maintain skin, joints and hormonal balance. In addition to heart disease, scientists are now investigating the role that fish consumption may have in protecting us against some cancers and conditions like asthma, high blood pressure, macular degeneration and rheumatoid arthritis.

2. May support brain function

We’ve long been told that fish is ‘brain food’, and there’s convincing evidence to support this. Studies suggest regular consumption reduces age-related brain loss and may improve memory – it’s the omega-3 fatty acids that are responsible for this. Studies investigating the role fatty varieties of fish play have seen benefits for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, depression and multiple sclerosis.

3. May be anti-inflammatory

Oily fish plays an important role in dampening the effects of inflammation, which is key to helping manage a number of chronic diseases, including diabetes and cancer. Studies suggest that eating more oily fish like salmon could help lower levels of the markers that indicate inflammation.

4. May be protective

The pink colour of salmon comes from its rich levels of a protective antioxidant called astaxanthin. This compound has been linked to lowering the risk of heart disease by improving cholesterol and working in combination with the omega-3 fatty acids to protect the brain and nervous system.

5. May support healthy ageing

Salmon is a good source of protein, which is important for maintaining bone health, preventing muscle loss and helping the body heal and repair. Its rich astaxanthin content may help maintain skin elasticity, reduce the signs of aging and protect the skin against UV damage.

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Is smoked salmon safe for everyone?

We’re advised to eat two portions of fish per week, with one portion being an oily variety, such as salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and fresh tuna. This is because oily fish is nutrient-dense and supplies beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. However, oily fish like salmon may contain low levels of pollutants, such as dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls. For this reason, certain groups are advised to minimise the amount of oily fish they eat. The following groups are advised to limit their consumption of oily fish to two portions per week:

  • Girls, young women and those planning a pregnancy
  • Smoked fish, including smoked salmon, is considered safe to eat during pregnancy. However, pregnant and breastfeeding women should follow guideline quantities
  • If you have high blood pressure, you should minimise your intake of smoked foods because of the high salt content. One portion of smoked salmon (140g) provides over 4g salt, which is 67 per cent of your recommended maximum daily amount

Read more from the NHS on how much fish is safe to eat.

This page was reviewed on 9 February 2021 by Kerry Torrens.

Nicola Shubrook is a nutritional therapist and works with both private clients and the corporate sector. She is an accredited member of the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy (BANT) and the Complementary & Natural Healthcare Council (CNHC). Find out more at urbanwellness.co.uk.

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All health content on bbcgoodfood.com is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the medical advice of your own doctor or any other healthcare professional. If you have any concerns about your general health, you should contact your local healthcare provider. See our website terms and conditions for more information.

Is Smoked Salmon Healthy?

Bruschetta with smoked salmon, cream cheese, lettuce and chives

Smoked salmon can be a tasty way to get essential nutrients, but not without a few potential side effects.

Image Credit: larik_malasha/iStock/GettyImages

The health benefits of smoked salmon come from all the nutrients, including essential vitamins, minerals, fats and protein in the fish.

Smoking typically involves salting the meat first, which means many smoked salmon products are very high in sodium.

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Tip

Smoked salmon has a number of potential health benefits thanks to the variety of nutrients in this fatty fish. But, it might not be a good idea to eat it regularly, or in high amounts.

What Is Smoked Salmon?

Salmon is a low-mercury fish that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Adults should eat 8 to 10 ounces of low-mercury seafood per week, according to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. This equals three 3-ounce servings of salmon.

Smoked salmon is often prepared by hot smoking or cold smoking. Smoking is a method of preserving fish that involves salting the fish, either by soaking in a brining solution, rubbing with salt or injecting with a salt solution, according to the University of Minnesota.

Once salted, the fish is smoked by adding it to a chamber with burning wood, either at a high or low temperature.

Hot smoking involves higher heat and results in flaky, cooked fish. In contrast, cold smoking is done at lower temperatures and has a texture similar to raw fish.

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Smoked salmon’s nutritional profile (including its sodium content) can vary based on the smoking technique that was used to cure it.

Smoked Salmon Nutrition

One serving of smoked salmon is 3 ounces. Three ounces of smoked salmon contains:

  • Calories: 100
  • Total fat: 3.7 g
    • Saturated fat: 0.8 g

    Vitamins, Minerals and Other Micronutrients

    • 115% Daily Value (DV) for vitamin B12
    • 73% DV for vitamin D
    • 50% DV for selenium
    • 25% DV for vitamin B3
    • 22% DV for copper
    • 15% DV for vitamin B5
    • 14% DV for vitamin B6
    • 11% DV for phosphorus
    • 8% DV for vitamin E
    • 7% DV for vitamin B2

    Smoked salmon also contains small amounts (between 1 and 4 percent) of many other essential nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin B1, calcium, potassium, iron, manganese and zinc.

    Smoked Salmon Health Benefits

    Despite being processed with salt and smoke, smoked salmon does have several health benefits thanks to a variety of nutrients.

    1. Omega-3s

    Omega-3 fatty acids in fish are heart-healthy. Eating fish and omega-3s was positively associated with total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B, which is consistent with heart disease prevention, in a February 2020 study in the ‌Journal of the American Heart Association.

    Omega-3s from fish are linked to a better mood. A small group of 23 adults with depression received either an omega-3 supplement or a placebo daily for 3 weeks, and 67 percent of those who took the omega-3s no longer met the criteria for depression in a September 2015 study in ‌Psychiatric Research.

    2. Vitamin B12

    Vitamin B12 is found in different amounts in animal products as well as in fortified foods and supplements.

    This water-soluble vitamin is responsible for healthy blood and nerve cells. Not getting enough vitamin B12 could lead to megaloblastic anemia, a condition that causes low energy, weakness and confusion, per John Hopkins Medicine.

    You’ll get 115 percent of your DV for vitamin B12 in 3 ounces of smoked salmon.

    3. Vitamin D

    Even though we are able to make our own vitamin D through sun exposure, up to 50 percent of the world’s population doesn’t get enough vitamin D, per an October 2014 article in ‌The Journal of Steroid Biochemistry and Molecular Biology‌.

    A 3-ounce serving of salmon provides 73 percent DV of vitamin D.

    Vitamin D is widely known for its role in bone health. It also supports brain, immune and muscle health with its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective benefits, per the Mayo Clinic.

    4. Selenium

    Selenium is a trace mineral essential to reproduction, thyroid health, DNA synthesis and protection from oxidative stress and infection, according to the National Institutes of Health. Salmon and other fatty fish are great sources of selenium.

    You’ll get half your DV for selenium in a 3-ounce portion of smoked salmon.

    Smoked Salmon Risks

    Despite these nutritional benefits, you may want to limit how much-smoked salmon you eat, or opt for fresh fish more often.

    It’s High in Sodium

    The sodium content of smoked salmon can be extremely variable. A 3-ounce serving of smoked salmon could have as little as 25 percent (571 milligrams) or as much as 74 percent (1,700 milligrams) DV for sodium, according to the USDA.

    The American Heart Association recommends getting no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, but ideally, people should get as little as 1,500 milligrams of sodium. Eating too much sodium can increase your risk for heart disease and high blood pressure.

    If you’ve purchased a high-sodium smoked salmon, consider eating it in smaller portions to reduce your daily sodium intake. For instance, a 1-ounce serving of smoked salmon with avocado and whole-grain crackers can still be a healthy snack.

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Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for his studies of ageing, genetics and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics NAS of Ukraine. His scientific researches are printed by the most reputable international magazines. Some of his works are: Differences in the gut Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratio across age groups in healthy Ukrainian population [BiomedCentral.com]; Mating status affects Drosophila lifespan, metabolism and antioxidant system [Science Direct]; Anise Hyssop Agastache foeniculum Increases Lifespan, Stress Resistance, and Metabolism by Affecting Free Radical Processes in Drosophila [Frontiersin].
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