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Home arrow Nutrition arrow Healthy Eating arrow Is Smoked Salmon a Healthy Choice for Your Diet?

Is Smoked Salmon a Healthy Choice for Your Diet?

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Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: May 19, 2023
6 min read 1149 Views 0 Comments
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Smoked salmon is known for its high levels of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. But can it be part of a healthy diet?

is smoked salmon healthy

Smoked salmon is a relatively expensive seafood often paired with a bagel and cream cheese to make a quick snack.

Salmon is either hot or cold-smoked, depending on the temperature in the smoking chamber. Hot smoked salmon is cured in salt, then processed in a hot smoking kiln at higher temperatures. It has a flaky texture and a unique, smoky flavor when fully cooked.

On the other hand, cold-smoked salmon is salt-cured and then smoked at lower temperatures leaving a smooth, silky texture. Although it is the most common type of smoked salmon, cold smoking may not effectively kill potentially harmful bacteria called listeria monocytogenes.

This article reviews the health benefits, nutrition facts, concerns, and whether it is a healthy choice for your diet.

Is Smoked Salmon Healthy?

Yes, smoked salmon is a healthy choice. It is packed with protein and numerous vitamins and minerals. Also, it is an excellent source of healthy fatty acids, such as omega-3, that reduce inflammation and boost eye, brain, and heart health. 

However, it should be consumed in moderation because most smoked salmon contains too much sodium due to the salt used during the cold or hot smoking process.

5 Health Benefits of Smoked Salmon

Hot or cold-smoked salmon has many health benefits. Here are the top 5 benefits of eating smoked salmon.

#1 Fights inflammation 

According to Harvard Health, chronic inflammation causes a high risk of diseases, such as cancer, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, as well as age-related mental decline. 

Smoked salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids, which lowers inflammation in the body. It is associated with a lower risk of rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers, heart disease, and macular degeneration.

Research indicates that people who ate oily fish, such as salmon, every day had lower inflammatory markers when they ate 80g of salmon every day. 

#2 Improves brain function

Oily fish has long been promoted as brain food. Yes, that’s true. There’s evidence to prove fish consumption causes a slower cognitive decline with age. The omega-3 fatty acids also lower the risk of Alzheimer’s and depression

Research suggests that omega 3 and astaxanthin work together to protect the brain and the nervous system from inflammation that causes age-related mental decline.

#3 Promotes healthy aging

The high protein content promotes the development of strong muscles and maintains bone health. It also improves the elasticity of the skin, protects it against damage from UV rays, and reduces the visible sign of aging.

#4 It contains essential nutrients

Smoked salmon is also packed with selenium, potassium, essential B vitamins, vitamin D, vitamin B12, vitamin A, and E, which are vital for health. B vitamins play a key role in energy metabolism and provide the body with energy.

#5 May help to maintain a healthy weight

Smoked salmon is packed with protein, which boosts satiety,  improves metabolism, and aids in weight loss. It is low in calories and helps to reduce your caloric intake making it easy to maintain a healthy weight or lose weight. 

Research suggests that people who ate a high-protein diet had a reduced appetite, ate fewer calories, and had better weight control.

Nutrition Facts of Smoked Salmon

Let’s now look at the nutritional facts of smoked salmon and its contribution to the diet.

Nutritional value (per 100g)

Smoked Salmon
Fish
is smoked salmon keto
Keto Friendly
Key nutritional facts (per 100g):
Net carbs
Total carbs
Fats
4.32g
Protein
18.3g
Calories
117
Glycemic Index
Fiber
Sugars

Source: https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/171985/nutrients 

Low in calories

Smoked salmon is relatively low in calories, with only 117 calories per 100g serving, which is ideal if you’re trying to keep your calorie intake low. With such a low amount of calories, it is nutrient dense and contains more beneficial nutrients than calories per serving.

High in proteins

Smoked salmon is an excellent source of high-quality protein with 18.3g per 100g serving, which makes you full longer and curbs appetite, reduces caloric intake, and helps shed some pounds. It contains all essential amino acids, which are key for muscle growth, hormone production, and more.

Low in saturated fats

Smoked salmon has only 0.93g of saturated fats in one cup serving (100g), which is only 4% of the daily value. Notably, it is rich in unsaturated fatty acids, such as omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for visual acuity, brain function, and heart health.

Zero carbs and sugars

Smoked salmon has zero carbs and sugars. It is an excellent option if you are on a low-carb diet or are trying to lose weight because it also contains protein, which keeps you feeling fuller longer.

Rich in minerals and vitamins

Smoked salmon is rich in B vitamins, niacin, thiamin, and riboflavin, and vitamins A, B12, and D. It also contains a good amount of selenium, iron, potassium, and phosphorus, which are essential for good health. 

High in sodium

Unfortunately, smoked salmon contains too much sodium compared to fresh salmon. One serving (100g) contains 2,000mg of sodium, which is 87% of the recommended daily intake by the FDA.  According to the World Health Organization, you should limit your sodium intake to less than 2g per day. 

Lox vs. Smoked Salmon

Most people often mistake lox and smoked salmon. This table shares the notable comparisons.

ProductLoxSmoked salmon
What it isRaw salmon cured in saltRaw salmon put in brining solution but also processed by hot or cold smoking
ProsRich in heart-healthy fatsHigh in proteinContains heart-healthy fatsRich in protein
Cons Salted foods may increase the risk of stomach cancer

Not suitable for pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems due to the risk of listeriosis

High in sodium
May increase the risk of stomach cancer when a higher temperature is used

Cold-smoked salmon processed in low temperatures may contain harmful bacteria

High in sodium

Healthy Smoked Salmon Recipe

Scrambled eggs are undoubtedly a top breakfast option for most people. Add in smoked salmon and cream cheese for an extra boost of protein and healthy fats.

Ingredients

  • 6 eggs
  • A pinch of ground pepper to taste
  • 1.5 ounces cream cheese, diced in ½ inch cubes and chilled
  • 3 slices hot smoked salmon,  extra for garnishing
  • 6 blades of chives, snipped
  •  1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Cut the salmon into small pieces.
  2.  Whisk cream cheese and eggs together in a mixing bowl.
  3.  Add olive oil to a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat.
  4. Pour the egg mixture and scramble the eggs with a wooden spoon. Add half of the chives and sprinkle pepper. Stir in the chopped smoked salmon when the eggs are just cooked.
  5. Remove from the pan before the scrambled eggs are fully cooked.
  6.  Serve warm and garnish with the remaining chives and salmon.

To achieve success in your healthy living journey, you need a variety of healthy recipes that provide the right nutrition for your body. Using nutrition apps will provide thousands of recipes, calorie trackers, workout routines, and personalized meal plans. Check out the best 11 nutrition apps to keep you accountable and motivated in your weight loss journey.

FAQs

Is smoked salmon fattening?

Smoked salmon is low in saturated fat and contains 4.32g of total fat per serving (100g), which is about 10% of the recommended intake based on a 2,000-calorie diet. Because it is also high in protein, it can help you feel fuller for longer and can be part of a healthy diet when eaten in moderation.

Is smoked salmon good for weight loss?

Smoked salmon is low in calories and packed with protein and healthy fats. The high protein content makes it an excellent choice for people trying to build muscle or lose weight because it curbs cravings and reduces the total calorie intake.

Is smoked salmon high in sodium?

Smoked salmon is high in sodium, containing 2,000mg of sodium per 100g of fish. People with high blood pressure should avoid smoked foods and instead choose fresh, unsalted ingredients.

A Word From a Nutritionist

Just like other fatty fish, salmon tops the list of healthy foods you should eat about twice a week. It is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and contains heart-healthy monounsaturated fats that lower the risk of age-related cognitive decline. But the process of cooking can change the nutritional content of fatty fish.

Smoked fish is often cured in salt before smoking, increasing its sodium content. We would advise people with high blood pressure to limit their consumption as much as possible or to look for healthier alternatives, such as fresh salmon.

Also, it is important to mention that cold-smoked salmon is not ideal for pregnant women, children, and people with weakened immune systems or sensitive stomachs.

Make sure to read food labels and choose brands with lower sodium content. Once opened, the pack should be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks and frozen for up to 3 months.

Conclusion

Smoked salmon is salt-cured fish with a unique flavor and flaky texture. It is an excellent source of protein and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, which fight inflammation and improve brain, heart, and overall health.

So is smoked salmon healthy?

The benefits of smoked salmon are undeniable. The popular smoked fish is a healthy, balanced option that is both filling and nutritious. However, due to its high sodium content and cooking method, cold-smoked salmon is not ideal for pregnant women or people with hypertension.

Enjoy smoked salmon in moderation with bagels or in a salad or pasta dish.

Beatrice Wairimu, RD
Beatrice is a registered dietician with vast experience in health and wellness. She specializes in writing for the health and fitness industry. When she is not writing, Beatrice coaches women on healthy eating, exercise, and mental wellness. Her goal is to educate people on healthy living through writing, health promotion, and coaching.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: May 19, 2023
6 min read 1149 Views 0 Comments
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