Wellness & Wisdom Blog

The Health Benefits of Salmon

June 25, 2024
Wellness & Wisdom Blog

In Southeast Alaska, we think of the high fishing season as bookended by two events: The herring run marks the start; the salmon run serves as the closer. Let’s take a “closer” look at all the nutritional goodies that the “closer” has to offer. 

Let’s be blunt: Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse. For starters, it’s insanely high in omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). (Use these terms to impress your friends AND your primary care provider.) These essential fats are crucial for keeping your heart and blood vessels healthy because they help reduce inflammation and lower blood pressure, which in turn lowers the overall risk of heart disease. Regular intake of omega-3s also helps your blood vessels stay smooth and flexible, decreasing the build-up of plaque (which can contribute to a heart attack). Additionally, getting a lot of omega-3s lowers triglycerides, a type of fat, in your blood, also cutting down on your risk for heart disease. 

Those omega-3s in salmon also support brain health and mental well-being. The omega-3s aid brain function, and their anti-inflammatory properties can help protect against cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s. Studies have indicated that regular consumption of omega-3-rich foods like salmon can enhance memory, reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve overall mood. This makes salmon beneficial for physical health AND for maintaining a healthy and balanced mental state. 

In addition to containing omega-3s, salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein. Protein is absolutely needed for maintaining muscle mass, especially as you age, and it plays a crucial role in a ton of other bodily functions. For example, your body can’t make enzymes and hormones, your body’s messengers, without protein. Even better, salmon’s protein is easy to digest and contains all the essential amino acids the body needs, making it a complete protein source that your body craves. This is great for athletes, those recovering from injuries or people who work in labor-intense jobs (such as commercial fishing!). 

Salmon is also rich in several vitamins and minerals that support overall health. It is an excellent source of B vitamins, including B12, niacin (B3) and riboflavin (B2), all of which are important for energy production, brain function and DNA repair. Vitamin D, another plentiful nutrient in salmon, keeps your bones healthy, helps fight off infections and improves your overall mood and sense of well-being. Consider this: Nearly everyone in Southeast Alaska has low vitamin D levels due to our limited sunlight. Eating salmon can help correct this deficiency. 

Finally, just in case you need more reasons to eat salmon, check out its antioxidant properties. Antioxidants help fight off all kinds of health conditions, from heart disease to cancer to joint pain to even wrinkles due to aging. Salmon contains astaxanthin, a powerful antioxidant that gives the fish its characteristic pink color. Astaxanthin has been shown to reduce inflammation, protecting our body cells from damage and potentially lowering the risk of cancer and diabetes. Additionally, this antioxidant has been linked to improved skin health by reducing wrinkles and maintaining skin elasticity, contributing to a more youthful appearance. 

So, what’s not to love? Consider taking the next beautiful day off to catch yourself some high-quality nutrition! 

Tara Farley


Tara Farley, a highly skilled Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) at MEMC, is dedicated to improving the lives of her patients through the power of nutrition. She earned her Master of Science in Clinical Nutrition from the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. Tara specializes in metabolic health, weight management, and bariatric surgery, working diligently to assist patients in achieving their health goals. Her passion lies in witnessing patients transform into healthy, fit, and happy individuals, knowing that she played a part in their journey, and celebrating them and their incredibly hard work.

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The views and opinions expressed on the Wellness & Wisdom Blog belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. The Wellness & Wisdom Blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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