Top 5 health benefits of smoked salmon
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.
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.
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
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.
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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