Salmon as food

Salmon sashimi

Salmon is a popular food. Classified as an oily fish,[1] salmon is considered to be healthy due to the fish's high protein, high omega-3 fatty acids, and high vitamin D[2] content. Salmon is also a source of cholesterol, with a range of 23–214 mg/100 g depending on the species.[3] According to reports in the journal Science, however, farmed salmon may contain high levels of dioxins. PCB levels may be up to eight times higher in farmed salmon than in wild salmon,[4] but still far below levels considered dangerous.[5][6] Nonetheless, according to a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the benefits of eating even farmed salmon far outweigh any risks imposed by contaminants.[7]


Raw wild Atlantic salmon
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 142 kcal (590 kJ)
6.34 g
19.84 g
Vitamin A 40 IU
Thiamine (B1)

0.226 mg

Riboflavin (B2)

0.380 mg

Niacin (B3)

7.860 mg

Pantothenic acid (B5)

1.164 mg

Vitamin B6

0.818 mg

Folate (B9)

25 μg


12 mg


0.80 mg


29 mg


200 mg


490 mg


44 mg


0.64 mg

Other constituents
Water 68.50 g

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database
Salmon steak (left) and fillets (right)
in a market
Still Life with Salmon, 1866-1869, by Édouard Manet, shows a white-fleshed salmon

Salmon flesh is generally orange to red, although there are some examples of white-fleshed wild salmon. The natural colour of salmon results from carotenoid pigments, largely astaxanthin but also canthaxanthin, in the flesh.[8] Wild salmon get these carotenoids from eating krill and other tiny shellfish. Because consumers have shown a reluctance to purchase white-fleshed salmon, astaxanthin (E161j), and very minutely canthaxanthin (E161g), are added as artificial colourants to the feed of farmed salmon, because prepared diets do not naturally contain these pigments.

In most cases, the astaxanthin is made chemically; alternatively it is extracted from shrimp flour. Another possibility is the use of dried red yeast or microalgae, which provide the same pigment. However, synthetic mixtures are the least expensive option. Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that stimulates the development of healthy fish nervous systems and enhances the fish's fertility and growth rate. Canthaxanthin may have negative effects on the human eye, accumulating in the retina at high levels of consumption.[8]

Today, the concentration of carotenoids (mainly canthaxanthin and astaxanthin) exceeds 8  mg/kg of flesh, and all fish producers try to reach a level that represents a value of 16 on the "Roche Colour Card", a colour card used to show how pink the fish will appear at specific doses. This scale is specific for measuring the pink colour due to astaxanthin and is not for the orange hue obtained with canthaxanthin. The development of processing and storage operations, which can be detrimental on canthaxanthin flesh concentration, has led to an increased quantity of pigments added to the diet to compensate for the degrading effects of the processing. In wild fish, carotenoid levels of up to 25 mg are present, but levels of canthaxanthin are, in contrast, minor.[8]


The vast majority of Atlantic salmon available on the world market are farmed (almost 99%[9]), whereas the majority of Pacific salmon are wild caught (greater than 80%).

Canned salmon in the U.S. is usually wild Pacific catch, though some farmed salmon is available in canned form. Smoked salmon is another popular preparation method, and can either be hot or cold smoked. Lox can refer either to cold smoked salmon or to salmon cured in a brine solution (also called gravlax). Traditional canned salmon includes some skin (which is harmless) and bone (which adds calcium). Skinless and boneless canned salmon is also available.

Raw salmon flesh may contain Anisakis nematodes, marine parasites that cause Anisakiasis. Before the availability of refrigeration, Japanese did not consume raw salmon. Salmon and salmon roe have only recently come into use in making sashimi (raw fish) and sushi.

Ordinary types of cooked salmon contain 500–1500 mg DHA and 300–1000 mg EPA (two similar species of fatty acids) per 100 grams[10]

Unlike most common farmed fish, bones of salmon are not easy to notice in the mouth because they are usually quite thin and not tough.

Salmon dishes

Name Image Origin Description
Gravlax Nordic Raw salmon cured in salt, sugar, and dill. Usually served as an appetiser, sliced thinly and accompanied by hovmästarsås (also known as gravlaxsås), a dill and mustard sauce, either on bread of some kind, or with boiled potatoes.
Lohikeitto Nordic A creamy salmon soup consisting of salmon fillets, boiled potatoes and leeks,[11][12] served hot with some dill.
Lomi salmon Polynesian A side dish consisting of fresh tomato and salmon salad. It was introduced to Hawaiians by early western sailors.[13] It is typically prepared by mixing raw salted, diced salmon with tomatoes, sweet gentle Maui onions (or sometimes green onion), and occasionally flakes of hot red chili pepper, or crushed ice. It is always served cold. Other variations include salmon, diced tomato, diced cucumber, and chopped sweet onion.
Lox Jewish A fillet that has been cured. In its most popular form, it is thinly slicedless than 5 millimetres (0.2 in) in thicknessand, typically (in North America), served on a bagel, often with cream cheese, onion, tomato, cucumber and capers. Lox in small pieces is also often added and cooked into scrambled eggs, sometimes with chopped onion.
Rui-be Japan Salmon that is frozen outdoors, sliced like sashimi, and served with soy sauce and water peppers.[14]
Salmon burger A type of fishcake made mostly from salmon in the style of a hamburger. It is challenging to make and cook as the salmon requires a binder to make it stick together and is easy to overcook which makes it too dry.[15] Salmon burgers are especially common in Alaska where they are routinely offered as an alternative to beef hamburgers.[16]
Salmon tartare Appetiser prepared with fresh raw salmon and seasonings, commonly spread on a cracker or artisan style bread
Smoked salmon A preparation of salmon, typically a fillet that has been cured and then hot or cold smoked. Due to its moderately high price, smoked salmon is considered a delicacy. Although the term lox is sometimes applied to smoked salmon, they are different products.[17][18]
Salmon sashimi Japan Sliced raw salmon served with garnishes. Usually eaten by dipping in soy sauce and wasabi.
Salmon sushi Japan Sliced raw salmon rolled with rice and sometimes nori (seaweed) as makizushi or placed on top of rice as nigiri sushi, served with garnishes. Usually eaten by dipping in soy sauce and wasabi.
Kippered salmon Hupa, Karuk, Yurok Salmon smoked using fruitwood until cooked on the outside but raw on the inside, then canned and pressure cooked. Can be seasoned with red pepper and other seasonings.

Labelling of genetically modified salmon

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration does not require labelling of genetically engineered salmon. However, in December 2015, members of the Alaska congressional delegation were able to insert language in a major spending bill that temporarily banned the sale of modified salmon until the FDA promulgated labeling guidelines.[19]

See also


  1. "What's an oily fish?". Food Standards Agency. 24 June 2004.
  2. "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D". National Institutes of Health. Archived from the original on 13 December 2007. Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  3. "Cholesterol: Cholesterol Content in Seafoods (Tuna, Salmon, Shrimp)". Retrieved 13 December 2007.
  4. "Global Assessment of Organic Contaminants in Farmed Salmon". Science (journal). 9 January 2004.
  5. "Farmed vs. wild salmon -- which is better?". CTV News. Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  6. "Risk-Based Consumption Advice for Farmed Atlantic and Wild Pacific Salmon Contaminated with Dioxins and Dioxin-like Compounds". doi:10.1289/ehp.7626.
  7. "JAMA - Abstract: Fish Intake, Contaminants, and Human Health: Evaluating the Risks and the Benefits, October 18, 2006, Mozaffarian and Rimm 296 (15): 1885". 18 October 2006. doi:10.1001/jama.296.15.1885. Retrieved 18 March 2010.
  8. 1 2 3 "Opinion of the Scientific Committee on Animal Nutrition on the use of canthaxanthin in feedingstuffs for salmon and trout, laying hens, and other poultry" (PDF). European Commission— Health & Consumer Protection Directorate. pp. 6–7. Retrieved 13 November 2006.
  9. Montaigne, Fen. "Everybody Loves Atlantic Salmon: Here's the Catch...". National Geographic. Retrieved 17 November 2006.
  10. (USDA)
  11. Beatrice A. Ojakangas, (1992), «Scandinavian feasts: celebrating traditions throughout the year», Minnesota Pres, pp:220
  12. Alan Davidson, (1979), «North Atlantic Seafood: A Comprehensive Guide with Recipes», Ten Speed Press, pp:360
  13. "Polynesian Cultural Center: Hawaiian Luau Food". Retrieved 19 July 2009.
  14. Chris Rowthorn (1 October 2009). Japan. Lonely Planet. pp. 582–. ISBN 978-1-74179-042-9. Retrieved 26 May 2012.
  15. Mark Bittman (10 June 1998). "The Minimalist; Burger With No Need of Ketchup". The New York Times.
  16. Jim DuFresne; Greg Benchwick; Catherine Bodry (2009), Alaska, ISBN 978-1-74104-762-2
  17. "Acme Smoked Fish Corp. reprint of E. Kinetz. (22 September, 2002). So Pink, So New York. The New York Times.". Retrieved 9 December 2007.
  18. Kinetz, Erika (22 September 2002). "So Pink, So New York". The New York Times. Retrieved 9 December 2007.
  19. Bohrer, Becky (17 December 2015). "Legislation Includes 'Frankenfish' Labeling Provisions". ABC News. Retrieved 21 December 2015.

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