7 Types of Salmon: How Do They Compare Nutritionally?

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Salmon is one of the healthiest foods from the sea, and it is full of omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial nutrients.

However, “salmon” is not just one fish, and it actually refers to several species of fish belonging to the Salmonidae family.

Generally speaking, all of these fish are healthy choices, but they do differ nutritionally.

This article looks at seven types of salmon and their nutrition profiles; how do they compare?

1) Atlantic Salmon

A Fillet of Farmed Atlantic Salmon.

Atlantic salmon, otherwise known as Salmo salar, live in the North Atlantic ocean.

The Atlantic salmon is the most popular type of salmon for commercial food production, and it is available in both farmed and wild form.

Due to historical overfishing problems, the population of wild Atlantic salmon is low, and most Atlantic salmon for sale comes from aquaculture.

Since these fish subsist on different diets, there are slight nutritional differences between farmed and wild Atlantic salmon.

For instance, wild salmon feed on smaller fish, squid, and plankton.

On the other hand, farmed fish consume fish feed pellets, the contents of which can vary from country to country.

The table below shows the nutrient profile per 100 grams for both wild and farmed varieties of the fish (1, 2).

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories/NutrientWild AtlanticFarmed Atlantic
Calories142 kcal208 kcal
Carbohydrate0 g0 g
Fat6.3 g13.4 g
Saturated Fat1 g3 g
Monounsaturated Fat2.1 g3.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat2.5 g3.9 g
Omega-32018 mg2506 mg
Omega-6172 mg982 mg
Protein19.8 g20.4 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin/MineralWild AtlanticFarmed Atlantic
Vitamin B1253 % DV54% DV
Selenium52 % DV34 % DV
Vitamin B641 % DV32 % DV
Vitamin B339 % DV43 % DV
Vitamin B222 % DV9 % DV
Phosphorus20 % DV24 % DV
Vitamin B517 % DV15 % DV
Vitamin B115 % DV14 % DV
Potassium14 % DV10 % DV
Copper13 % DV2 % DV
Magnesium7 % DV7 % DV
Folate6 % DV6 % DV
Iron4 % DV2 % DV
Zinc4 % DV2 % DV
Calcium1 % DV1 % DV
Manganese1 % DV1 % DV
Vitamin A1 % DV1 % DV

A Note on Vitamin D

All salmon are a good source of vitamin D, and wild fish offer the most significant amount.

According to research, farmed salmon typically offers only 25% of the vitamin D that wild salmon provides (3).

However, the USDA Food and Nutrient Database does not publish the vitamin D concentrations for most fish. These figures can vary tremendously based on sunlight exposure and other factors.

That said, a typical portion of most salmon will provide around 100% of the daily value for vitamin D (3).

2) Chinook (King Salmon)

Smoked Chinook Salmon.

 

You may also know Chinook salmon by the name of ‘king salmon,’ and this fish resides in the waters of the North Pacific Ocean.

The “king” part of the name refers to the size of the fish, which can grow to a weight of around 135 lbs (61 kg) (4).

Chinook salmon is historically a wild fish, although global aquaculture production started in the 1990s, predominantly in Chile and New Zealand (5).

Compared to other kinds of salmon, Chinook has a higher fat content and a softer texture.

Per 100 grams, wild Chinook salmon provides the following nutrients (6);

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories/NutrientWild Chinook
Calories179 kcal
Carbohydrate0 g
Fat10.4 g
Saturated Fat3.1 g
Monounsaturated Fat4.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat2.8 g
Omega-32342 mg
Omega-6122 mg
Protein19.9 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin/Mineral
Selenium52 % DV
Vitamin B342 % DV
Phosphorus29 % DV
Magnesium24 % DV
Vitamin B1222 % DV
Vitamin B620 % DV
Potassium11 % DV
Vitamin A9 % DV
Folate8 % DV
Vitamin B57 % DV
Vitamin C7 % DV
Vitamin B27 % DV
Vitamin E6 % DV
Vitamin B14 % DV
Calcium3 % DV
Zinc3 % DV
Copper2 % DV
Manganese1 % DV
Iron1 % DV

3) Chum Salmon

Two Fillets of Chum Salmon.

Chum salmon goes by several alternate names such as ‘dog salmon’, ‘keta’, and ‘silverbrite,’ and it is native to the Pacific ocean.

As a result, most of the commercially available chum salmon for food comes from Alaska.

Chum has a lighter texture and a milder flavor than other types of salmon.

The fish is also the second largest among the salmon family after Chinook, and it can weigh up to 35 lbs (16 kg) (7).

Marine biologists consider chum salmon to be a sustainable and responsibly harvested fish.

The nutritional values for Chum per 100 grams are shown below. As shown, it is much lower in fat than other species of salmon (8).

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories/NutrientWild Chum
Calories120 kcal
Carbohydrate0 g
Fat3.8 g
Saturated Fat0.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat1.5 g
Polyunsaturated Fat0.9 g
Omega-3740 mg
Omega-660 mg
Protein20.1 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin/Mineral
Selenium52 % DV
Vitamin B1250 % DV
Vitamin B335 % DV
Phosphorus28 % DV
Vitamin B620 % DV
Potassium12 % DV
Vitamin B211 % DV
Vitamin B57 % DV
Magnesium5 % DV
Vitamin E5 % DV
Vitamin B15 % DV
Iron3 % DV
Copper3 % DV
Zinc3 % DV
Vitamin A2 % DV
Folate1 % DV
Calcium1 % DV
Manganese1 % DV
Iron1 % DV

4) Coho Salmon

Illustration of a Coho Salmon Fish.

Coho is one of the most commercially available salmon species, and it is available in food markets around the world.

Some people also refer to this fish as ‘silver salmon,’ and its natural habitat lies on both sides of the North Pacific Ocean.

While coho salmon from around Alaska is wild, an aquaculture production trade has increased over the past few decades.

Farmed coho salmon predominantly come from China (89%) with smaller production operations in Japan and Canada (9).

Coho is a medium-fatty salmon, and per 100 grams it offers the following nutrition profile (10, 11);

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories/NutrientWild CohoFarmed Coho
Calories146 kcal160 kcal
Carbohydrate0 g0 g
Fat5.9 g7.7 g
Saturated Fat1.3 g1.8 g
Monounsaturated Fat2.1 g3.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat2.0 g1.9 g
Omega-31474 mg1281 mg
Omega-6206 mg349 mg
Protein21.6 g21.3 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin/MineralWild CohoFarmed Coho
Vitamin B1270 % DV44% DV
Selenium52 % DV18 % DV
Vitamin B336 % DV34 % DV
Vitamin B627 % DV33 % DV
Phosphorus26 % DV29 % DV
Potassium12 % DV13 % DV
Vitamin B18 % DV6 % DV
Vitamin B28 % DV6 % DV
Vitamin B58 % DV11 % DV
Magnesium8 % DV8 % DV
Calcium4 % DV1 % DV
Vitamin E3 % DV
Iron3 % DV2 % DV
Zinc3 % DV3 % DV
Copper3 % DV2 % DV
Vitamin A2 % DV4 % DV
Vitamin C2 % DV2 % DV
Folate2 % DV3 % DV
Manganese1 % DV1 % DV

5) Pink Salmon (Humpback)

Pink Salmon Fillets In a Cast Iron Pan.

Pink salmon, sometimes referred to as ‘humpback,’ is the smallest type of Pacific salmon, and it mainly lives in the North Pacific, particularly around the Alaska area.

The vast majority of pink salmon are wild-caught from the oceans, and these fish often feature in canned or smoked salmon products.

Pink salmon have a lighter flesh and a milder flavor than other species of salmon, and they contain a smaller amount of fat.

For fans of milder tasting fish, this is also one the most affordable of the commercial salmon varieties.

Per 100 grams it offers (12);

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories/NutrientWild Pink Salmon
Calories116 kcal
Carbohydrate0 g
Fat3.5 g
Saturated Fat0.6 g
Monounsaturated Fat0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat1.4 g
Omega-31135 mg
Omega-650 mg
Protein19.9 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin/Mineral
Selenium64 % DV
Vitamin B1250 % DV
Vitamin B335 % DV
Phosphorus23 % DV
Vitamin B111 % DV
Vitamin B610 % DV
Potassium9 % DV
Vitamin B57 % DV
Magnesium6 % DV
Iron4 % DV
Copper4 % DV
Zinc4 % DV
Vitamin B24 % DV
Vitamin E3 % DV
Vitamin A2 % DV
Folate1 % DV
Calcium1 % DV
Manganese1 % DV

6) Sockeye Salmon

Two Wild Sockeye Salmon Fillets.

Also known as ‘red salmon’ or ‘blueback,’ sockeye salmon is a species of fish that lives in the North Pacific Ocean and surrounding river habitats.

These contrasting names come from the fact that sockeye salmon are actually blue, but they have red flesh.

The bright red hue of sockeye fillets is due to the high carotenoid content of sockeye salmon’s diet.

On this note, the diet predominantly revolves around zooplankton; nutritious small organisms that live near the surface of marine environments. This zooplankton provides significant amounts of carotenoids and B12.

With a medium fat content, sockeye salmon is considered to be one of the best-tasting (and healthiest) types of salmon.

Here are the full nutritional values per 100 grams (13);

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories/NutrientSockeye Salmon
Calories153 kcal
Carbohydrate0 g
Fat7.3 g
Saturated Fat1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat2.2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat1.4 g
Omega-31130 mg
Omega-680 mg
Protein21.9 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin/Mineral
Vitamin B12130 % DV
Selenium43 % DV
Vitamin B340 % DV
Phosphorus24 % DV
Vitamin B117 % DV
Vitamin B217 % DV
Vitamin B614 % DV
Vitamin B511 % DV
Potassium10 % DV
Magnesium7 % DV
Vitamin E6 % DV
Vitamin A4 % DV
Folate3 % DV
Iron3 % DV
Copper3 % DV
Zinc3 % DV
Calcium1 % DV
Manganese1 % DV

For a full guide to the health benefits of sockeye salmon, see this article.

7) Steelhead

Pan-Fried Steelhead Fish Fillets.

Steelhead creates confusion over whether it’s a salmon or a trout, and it even has the nickname of ‘salmon trout.’

While biologically considered to be a species of trout, the steelhead is a member of the salmon family and acts like a salmon in its migratory patterns (14).

Steelhead may also be referred to as ‘rainbow trout,’ but there are some slight differences between these fish.

Although steelhead and rainbow trout are the same species, rainbow trout only live in freshwater.

On the other hand, steelhead fish migrate to and from the ocean.

Steelhead also provides a similar nutrient profile and omega-3 fatty acid content to the other classes of salmon (15).

Calories and Macronutrients

Calories/NutrientSteelhead
Calories119 kcal
Carbohydrate0 g
Fat3.5 g
Saturated Fat0.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat1.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat1.2 g
Omega-3812 mg
Omega-6239 mg
Protein20.5 g

Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamin/Mineral
Vitamin B1270 % DV
Vitamin B327 % DV
Phosphorus27 % DV
Vitamin B620 % DV
Selenium18 % DV
Potassium14 % DV
Vitamin B59 % DV
Vitamin B18 % DV
Magnesium8 % DV
Manganese8 % DV
Calcium7 % DV
Zinc7 % DV
Vitamin B26 % DV
Copper5 % DV
Vitamin C4 % DV
Iron4 % DV
Folate3 % DV

Final Thoughts

As shown in this article, there are several different varieties of salmon, each with their own unique nutrition profile.

That said, all varieties of salmon (whether wild or farmed) offer a range of beneficial nutrients and—most importantly—bioavailable omega-3.

Therefore, you can’t go wrong with whatever option you choose; salmon is one of the healthiest foods we can eat.

If you want to learn how to cook salmon for perfect fillets every time, see this guide here.

For more on healthy fish, see this guide to the best fish choices for omega-3.

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