Integrating more seafood into your diet can be tricky, but it's probably worth the effort every now and then: The American Heart Association recommends eating fish at least twice a week for a reason. Salmon, in particular, is a good dish if you're trying to be conscious of your heart health. Below, you'll find 11 health benefits of salmon, according to registered dietitians.
It’s rich in omega 3 fatty acids
Salmon is a wonderful source of omega 3 fatty acids, Keri Gans, a New York-based RDN, tells Health. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), a division of the National Institutes of Health, research has proven that omega 3s offer a variety of health benefits, including relieving symptoms of dry eye disease, helping manage symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and improving cognitive function.
Salmon is a great source of protein
According to the USDA, 100 grams of salmon provides nearly 20 grams of protein. (FYI: Females 14 and older need 46 grams of protein a day.) Protein is essential in helping your body thrive, and not getting enough can lead to muscle loss.
It can help your body regulate your sleep
Salmon also includes an amino acid called tryptophan, Gans says. Tryptophan is an essential amino acid, according to the US National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus website. This means you have to get it from your diet as your body won't produce it. Tryptophan helps the body make melatonin and serotonin, per MedlinePlus—meaning it plays a part in some pretty important bodily functions, such as mood regulation and the sleep-wake cycle.
It has vitamin A, which supports eye health
If you're low on vitamin A, you should definitely consider adding salmon to your routine. Gans says salmon is rich in vitamin A, which is an immune-boosting nutrient. Per the ODS, vitamin A is important not only for immune function but also reproduction and vision.
The vitamin D in salmon supports your immune system
Salmon is a good source of vitamin D, Gans says. Vitamin D can be obtained via sunlight and foods, according to the ODS, which points out that it helps your body absorb calcium. Gans adds that vitamin D is also an immune-boosting nutrient.
It has vitamin B12, which keeps you from getting tired
Another nutrient salmon contains is vitamin B12, Maxine Smith, a registered dietitian at Cleveland Clinic's Center for Human Nutrition, tells Health. Getting enough B12 is important, the ODS says, because a deficiency can cause weakness, tiredness, constipation, and loss of appetite.
Salmon is a good source of B3 (niacin)
Vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) can be found in salmon as well, Smith says, and its job is to transform the food you eat into the energy your body needs, the ODS states. Also worth noting: Vitamin B3 plays a role in keeping your cells functioning.
It can help regulate your thyroid hormones
Selenium is yet another immune-boosting nutrient found in salmon, Gans says. Foods with selenium provide a number of health benefits, as the nutrient plays a role in thyroid hormone metabolism, reproduction, DNA synthesis, and more, per the ODS.
Salmon has zinc, which you should eat every day
You should be consuming zinc, found in salmon, daily, according to the ODS, which states the essential mineral "is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system" and that it supports immune function.
Salmon is rich in glutamine
Glutamine, too, is found in salmon, Gans says. This amino acid (a building block of protein) assists in energy production, per the ODS.
The iron in salmon helps keep your tissues alive
Smith adds that salmon is a good source of iron, which is crucial for many bodily processes. Iron helps with the transfer of oxygen from your lungs to other tissues, and it also supports muscle metabolism, according to the ODS.
It contains an antioxidant
Lastly, an antioxidant called astaxanthin can also be found in wild-caught salmon. Antioxidants also support cell functioning, and they can protect your body against disease, per the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a branch of the NIH.
Eating salmon is good for the environment
Salmon is a great choice for the environmentally conscious eater, since eating salmon can do more than boost your own health. "Alaska Salmon is both wild and sustainable, good for the environment and good for us," Gans says.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter