Eating oily fish provides a host of health wins. But is it a good idea to eat salmon every day?
What happens if you eat salmon every day?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) suggests eating 8 ounces of fish per week. Depending on your preferences, some or all of that could be salmon. You can spread it throughout the week however you choose.
The main benefit of regularly eating salmon is that it’ll boost your intake of omega-3 fatty acids. What does that mean? Well, here are the benefits of omega-3s in short:
- might improve heart health
- may reduce blood pressure
- possibly linked to breast, colorectal, and prostate cancer prevention
- may reduce risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
- may reduce the amount of arthritis meds needed to soothe symptoms
For pregnant peeps: The FDA recommends eating 8 to 12 ounces of seafood (from low-mercury sources) per week — and salmon is one of the lower-mercury fish you can consume.
After all, salmon is an awesome source of omega-3 fatty acids. But how much is too much? Is a salmon-heavy diet helpful for weight loss? Does it provide protein? All the questions.
Well, don’t despair. We’ll dish the deets on our fishy friend.
OK, so you’ve been eating salmon every day and now you’re wondering if you’re overdoing it. What’s going to happen if you get too much of this good thing?
Take a deep breath and relax. Even though you don’t need to eat salmon *every* day, making it a regular feature in meals won’t hurt you. In fact, salmon is an excellent source of many nutrients, including:
- omega-3 fatty acids
- vitamin D
- vitamin B12
And it *can* provide a bunch of vitamin D, but this varies depending on whether the salmon is wild or farmed — according to the limited research, wild salmon has the edge on vitamin D content.
There’s more stuff in salmon that helps you than harms you.
Let’s take a look at how much salmon you can nosh on!
How much should you eat every day?
There’s no official recommendation on how much salmon you should eat per day, so you’ll have to go with your soon-to-be-fish-filled gut. If you want to eat it every day, take a look at the weekly recommendation and think about how you could spread it out.
Do you want to go with bigger amounts but eat less frequent servings? Or eat a smattering of salmon every day?
If you’re determined to go with daily salmon consumption, think about it. Small slices of salmon on toast? Sushi? Sashimi? There’s more than one way to get salmon into your diet on a daily basis. Get creative with it.
How much should you eat every week?
The FDA recommends that you eat at least 8 ounces of seafood per week. And again, why not get inventive with it?
After all, you can either divide that up into daily portions or treat yourself to a grilled salmon steak or hearty chunks in a salad. You can make up your own rules!
What are you putting into your body when you chow down on salmon?
It depends on what type of salmon you’re eating. Different types of salmon have different nutritional values. We used the most common type of salmon to appear on U.S. plates (farmed Atlantic salmon) for reference. You can expect to get the nutrients below from 3 ounces of salmon.
For the percentage of your Daily Value (DV), we’ve given the figures for males and females aged 19 to 30 years, but your intake requirement for some nutrients varies depending on your age, pregnancy status, and health needs.
The Dietary Guidelines for Americans are our basis for these values, so feel free to check out the guidelines for your own nutritional situation.
|Amount||Percentage of DV: Females||Percentage of DV: Males|
|Calories||175||varies depending on health goals||varies depending on health goals|
That’s some pretty useful stuff, right?
Different types of salmon: Farmed vs. wild-caught
You’ll generally see two types of salmon in your local supermarket: wild-caught and farmed.
You might notice that farmed salmon is usually a bit bigger and plumper-looking, while wild salmon tends to be smaller and more expensive. So the farmed salmon has to be the better choice, right? Plus, it’s been bred in captivity, so *surely* that’s a more ethical choice than plucking a wild fish from its natural life?
But wait — something seems a little fishy here.
Fish farmers keep salmon in little cages in the sea, and the fish eat an artificial diet that makes them bigger. This means that once they reach your plate, they’re higher in omega-6 fatty acids and lower in omega-3s than wild salmon, although either type of salmon is a nutritious choice.
Wild-caught salmon might cost more, but it may also be higher in certain nutrients. It’s also important to remember that the health risks associated with farmed salmon are still super small — if wild salmon is beyond your budget, it’s better to eat farmed salmon than to cut it out of your diet completely.
Try to buy responsibly sourced salmon too. It’s better for the fish and for you. (More on that later!)
Not quite sold on the idea of regularly eating salmon? Well, prepare to change your mind: These benefits will get even the most ardent fish-hater thinking twice.
(Still, remember that salmon is not a miracle food in isolation — it should be part of a balanced diet that covers all your nutritional bases.)
1. You can eat it as part of a Mediterranean diet
Want to know why people praise the Mediterranean diet so much? It’s because this diet is low in red meat and saturated fat and potentially supports human health (including by helping you reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes).
Salmon can stand in for red meat while boosting your intake of other nutrients.
2. It’s a solid source of protein
We all love protein, right? And no, it’s not just for gym rats — a protein-rich diet can support bone strength, healthy aging, and other awesome things that we generally care about.
And salmon is up to its gills in protein! Research suggests that adults under 65 should eat 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of body weight every day. That comes to 55 to 57 grams for males and 47 to 48 grams for females.
A 3.5-ounce serving of salmon provides 22 to 25 grams of protein. Sweet!
3. It might help you lose weight
Wanna know what else protein-rich foods are great for? Shedding those unwanted pounds!
A 2014 research review noted that high protein foods like salmon make you feel full after you eat them. This might mean you’ll eat fewer calories overall, which could contribute to weight loss.
4. They provide a *bunch* of vitamins
A 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon provides significant amounts of the following vitamins and minerals:
|Amount||Percentage of DV: Females||Percentage of DV: Males|
|Vitamin B12||2.38 mcg||99.1%||99.1%|
|Vitamin D||447 IU||74.5%||74.5%|
|Vitamin B6||0.55 mcg||42.3%||42.3%|
|Vitamin A||58.6 IU||8.3%||6.5%|
As you can see, a 3-ounce serving of salmon can provide a hearty chunk of your daily requirement for vitamins B12, B6, and D, and a not-insignificant helping of thiamine, riboflavin, and potassium.
So what’s the catch?
You might have heard that salmon contains mercury — and that’s completely true. But salmon is pretty low on the list of fish containing the most mercury.
You’re not really at any risk of mercury poisoning by simply eating fish. The health benefits of salmon far outweigh the minimal risk of harm from its limited mercury content.
Can you eat salmon every day during pregnancy?
Not *every* day. But it’s safe to eat salmon for nearly half of the week!
If you’re pregnant, it’s best to limit your seafood intake to 8 to 12 ounces per week, even though omega-3 fatty acids are pretty awesome for the development of a new human.
All fish have *some* mercury content, and too much mercury might harm your little one as they prepare to enter the world. So go for lower-mercury seafood — yes, salmon included.
The good news is that salmon appears on the FDA’s “Best Choices” list for pregnancy-safe fish, meaning it’s lower in mercury than many other species.
Stick to the 8-ounces-a-week guideline and you’ll be able to keep up your salmon intake without worrying about harmful side effects.
Not keen on salmon or just fancy something different? Here are some alternatives.
This is a great choice for people who want to watch those calories. It’s high in protein and low in calories and fat. Plus, depending on the canning process, many canned varieties of tuna (such as those canned in water) don’t lose these benefits. So it’s mega-storable.
But lower fat levels mean fewer omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna also provides less vitamin D than salmon. Weigh up what suits your dietary needs best.
We compared tuna and salmon here.
You might be tempted to go for another oily fish as a cheaper alternative to salmon, and you can’t go wrong with mackerel.
You’ll be getting that dose of omega-3 acids and vitamin D (though less than in salmon). But be warned — it’s best to avoid king mackerel, which contains more mercury than other types of tuna and isn’t *quite* as safe to eat regularly.
You’re sold on salmon. Hurrah!
But how can you incorporate it into your diet? If you’re not too worried about sticking to the guideline amounts (although they are guidelines for a reason) and you just want that tasty salmon in you, here are seven ways to get your mouth watering:
- Honey garlic salmon. As Mediterranean diet as it comes! Adding sweetness to your salmon creates a great contrast of flavors.
- Baked salmon in foil. Want to try out foil cooking, sealing in all the flavor and healthy oils? This is the perfect recipe for giving it a go (and enjoying the results).
- Rosemary-roasted salmon. If you can look at this recipe without immediately wanting to try it, you’re doing better than us. Light, flavorful, and healthy to boot.
- Tuscan salmon. Live la dolce vita with a taste of Tuscany. This creamy dish will have you flashing back to that week you spent in Florence — and it still manages to be a nutritious choice!
- Teriyaki salmon. How about a taste of Asia instead? This is perfect with rice for a simple yet tasty meal.
- Bourbon-glazed salmon. Booze? Salmon? Say no more!
- Lemon garlic salmon. Another fantastic Mediterreanean-inspired choice. Close your eyes and you’ll almost be able to smell the sea breeze from the Bay of Naples. Healthy *and* tasty!
Choosing ethically sourced salmon
Seen “Seaspiracy”? If so, you know that overfishing and trawling are a massive problem for our world, disrupting both fish populations and the fragile ocean floors, as well as harming other species such as turtles and sharks that get caught up in the nets and discarded as bycatch.
It’s not remotely good for our fishy friends. And it’s also not good for humans — it has a huge impact on the 3 billion people worldwide who nosh on fish as their main source of food.
Not good for them, not good for us. But what can you do about it?
Well, you can use the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch tool. Pop in your preferred fish and get all the deets on salmon that’s been sustainably fished or farmed.
You can look out for labels on your salmon and make sure you’re buying a sustainably sourced fish for your dish. Where possible, buy from local, small-scale fishermen and fishmongers to avoid the more environmentally damaging effects of industrial trawler fishing.
The FDA recommends eating 8 ounces of salmon per week. So you *can* eat it every day but in smaller servings. If you’re pregnant, the FDA recommends eating 8 to 12 ounces of seafood per week from sources that have lower mercury levels — including salmon!
Although you might have heard that salmon contains mercury, the potential health benefits of eating this delish fish far outweigh the risks.
As long as you stick to the guidelines where possible, regular salmon consumption will give you a boost in omega-3 fatty acids — a vital nutrient that your body doesn’t produce naturally — plus other health bonuses.
Salmon also contains a bunch of vitamins and minerals and is tasty and versatile. You can stick to the daily guidelines and eat a small amount each day while still making things interesting. Sushi, anyone?
Salmon has a low enough mercury level that you’re very unlikely to encounter any risk to your health if you eat it. Get yourself some ethically sourced salmon, tickle your taste buds with some classy dishes, and reap those health rewards.