Salmon is healthy, colorful, beautiful, and above all else, a mysterious creature that originates in the Northern Atlantic and Pacific oceans. These fish are born in fresh water, and they are easy to cook up if you are lucky enough to catch one fresh! From grilled salmon, baked salmon, and salmon patties, all the way to fresh salmon filets, there is no doubt this fish is worth incorporating into your diet. Salmon can be cooked in the oven, slathered in butter, or even baked to perfection in pepper until it melts in your mouth. For those of you who are lucky enough to love salmon, you will not be disappointed in the massive amount of health benefits incorporated in consuming them regularly.
Salmon Fun Facts
- “Salmon can reach 20 inches to 5 feet in length and 4 to 110 pounds in weight, depending on the species. Cherry salmon is the smallest and Chinook salmon, the largest species of salmon.
- Salmon travel thousands of miles and climb 7.000 feet upstream until they reach spawning areas.
- Color of the body depends on the age and type of habitat. Salmon change the color of their body on their way from the ocean to the freshwater habitats during the mating season.
- Young salmon eat different types of insects, invertebrates, and plankton while adult salmons eat small types of fish, squids, and shrimps.
- Salmon have a lot of natural enemies. They are often targeted by large fish, whales, sea lions, and bears.
- Most salmon will die as a result of exhaustion after spawning. A small percent of surviving salmon will spawn a few more time in their lifetime.
- Salmon rely on their sense of smell, ocean currents, and the moon to find the waters where they were born.”
- “Mature salmon are exceptional jumpers, an ability that serves them well when they have to swim upstream or go up rapids in order to reach rivers and streams. In fact, “salmon” comes from the Latin word “salmo,” which means “to leap.”
- The biggest species of salmon is the Chinook, which can weigh as much as a hundred pounds. Also called King Salmon, the Chinook is the most commercially valuable, not only because of its size, but also for its high fat content.”
The salmon is surrounded by rich culture and mythology throughout many different cultures, and most definitely could win the prize for the most eclectic and colorful fish in the sea. Swimming thousands of miles upstream during spawning season makes this species a fight-for-your-life type, and they are well respected for it.
According to the Spruce,
“The word salmon, any variety of fish of the genera Salmo and Oncorhynchus, comes from the Latin salmo, which later became samoun in Middle English. Many Native American tribes depended heavily upon salmon in their diet.”
It has been said that this name also means “leap.”
It has been said that Early European settlers grew very tired of eating salmon, as they consumed it quite regularly, so there was a rule made that allowed salmon consumption only once per week. In year 1840, the first canning of salmon happened in New England, and then about twenty years later, the canning migrated over to California’s west coast because the east coast was literally fished out! Canning and migration of salmon to the east and west coasts began happening at a lightning fast pace.
There are many Scottish tales, Celtic tales, as well as Irish tales that involve salmon and they revolve around the fact that the word salmon is associated with wisdom. According to Trees for Life, “The Celts associated the salmon with wisdom. In Irish myth the salmon of knowledge swam in the Well of Segais, and ate the magical hazel nuts that fell into the water. There was a prophecy that Finegas would catch and eat it, thereby gaining all knowledge.” Overall, salmon have been an essential food source for northern cultures, as well as an art form. In many of the Native American cultures you will notice that salmon are carved in wood, stone, and even onto ritualistic totem poles.
Possibly one of the most mysterious and intriguing facts about the salmon is their spawning habits. Many have heard of this movement but do not really know how it all takes place. The lifespan of a salmon is short (roughly 3-8 years), and they make great use of the short time they have in the water with how much they travel. The whole idea behind spawning is that they try to get back to the waters they themselves hatched in to lay eggs and reproduce. This can result in travelling thousands of miles upstream to get there. From the age of two all the way to seven, salmon are ready to spawn, with some spawning only once and others multiple times throughout their life.
The female salmon digs a hole in the sand with her tail, and there she will lay thousands of eggs for the male species to fertilize. As the eggs are fertilized and the baby salmon start to grow, they live under the rocks for protection where they accrue most of their nutrients. When they mature a little more, they are not babies anymore, but instead they are “fry” and so then make their way out from under the rocks. It takes about a year, but they grow and mature enough to get out into the rivers to start their descent downstream. This process repeats itself over and over throughout the life of the salmon. Many times the journey is long and hard back upstream, and many die in the process.
Salmon Nutrition Facts
There are a variety of nutritional facts that will absolutely blow your mind in regards to salmon. They are obviously packed with omega-3 and healthy proteins as long as they are not farmed raised and pumped full of antibiotics.
According to Seafood Health Facts,
“The term “salmon” refers to a variety of species that are all “anadromous” fish, which means they are born in freshwater rivers and streams, migrate to the ocean to mature and spend much of their adult life, and then return to the streams and rivers in which they were born to spawn (reproduce) and then die.”
It is important to keep the fish in their native habitat for the best quality and nutrients.
Salmon is also packed full of vitamin A, C, B6, B12, folate, thiamin, and riboflavin. Minerals include: copper, zinc, iron, potassium, phosphorus, sodium, and magnesium. There is also an abundance of different proteins and amino acids like alanine, arginine, glycine, histidine, proline, and tyrosine, as well as many different healthy fats. Fats make up over 40% of salmon, but it is the good fat not the bad fat that clogs your arteries! As you can see, this fish is well worth the purchase, time, and is best when it is cooked to perfection, or used in a salmon bake!
Salmon Health Benefits
So what are the health benefits that come when you eat salmon of any variety? There is quite an abundance. The first is the healthy fats you are getting when you eat salmon, and those fats do great things for you brain health and your eyes. When you consume omega-3 fatty acids, you are decreasing harmful inflammation in the body, lowering your blood sugar, and reducing your risk of cancer overall. On top of the healthy fats, salmon is loaded with high levels of protein which help your body keep hunger at bay, as well as fight and heal from injury. When you eat ample levels of protein, it also ensures you are able to maintain healthy muscle mass.
Other benefits come from the high content of B vitamins, which gives you a boost in energy and immune function. B vitamins also can stimulate your brain function and keep your nervous system functioning at top levels. There are too many benefits to list them all, but other important functional benefits when consuming salmon is high potassium levels and selenium. Selenium protects your overall bone health, blood health, and can protect you against thyroid disease.
There are an abundance of different salmon to notice, and they are all shapes, sizes, and colors. Some make their way up currents to spawn, while others simply do not. I want to focus on the six different salmon that make their way around North America. While catching these fish does not usually come free, it is much cheaper than buying them at the grocery store! Plus, you get the challenge of reeling in a fighting salmon on your line, which can be exhilarating at least for a few minutes, until your arms get tired.
“This species is in decline in the United States and is listed on the Endangered Species List. The average size of the pink salmon is 8-12 pounds.”
“This animal is the state fish of Alaska and is also known as the King Salmon. It is the largest of the salmon species and can get up to 125 pounds. Chinook salmon can live a maximum of 7 years.”
“This fish is found in Alaska down to the northwest tip of the United States. It occupies the broadest range of any other salmon. The average size of a Chum is 10-15 pounds.”
“The Coho salmon, also known as Silvers, is one of the most sought after species and can be found in Alaska and down the west coast. The average size of a Coho is 6-12 pounds.”
“Also known as “Humpies,” the pink salmon is the most abundant, yet smallest in size of the species. The average size of a Pink salmon is 3-5 pounds.”
“Also known as “Reds,” this is the most colorful of the species and can survive being in lakes and other freshwater. They sometimes even spawn in rivers and lakes. The average size of a Sockeye is 5-8 pounds.”
The main uses for salmon happen in the kitchen, as many people just use them for consumption and not for having as a pet. You can make a variety of delicious and healthy dishes with salmon as long as you know how to cook it. Whether you are going for a regular salmon recipe or a baked salmon recipe, it will not disappoint! Below I will give you a great recipe that will make your mouth water!
Garlic Butter Salmon In Foil Recipe
- 1 ¼ pound salmon
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tablespoons melted butter
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon oregano
- ¼ crushed red pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, for garnishing
- “Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with foil. The piece of foil should be big enough to fold over and seal the fish.
- In a small bowl, add lemon juice, garlic, and melted butter. Whisk everything together.
- Place salmon onto prepared baking sheet.
- Pour the butter mixture over the salmon.
- Season with salt, pepper, oregano, and red pepper flakes.
- Fold the sides of the foil over the salmon. Make sure it is well sealed so the sauce does not leak.
- Place into oven and bake until cooked for about 20-25 minutes. (Baking time may vary slightly due to thickness of fish and your oven.)
- Open the foil and broil the fish for 2-3 minutes. Please, be careful not to burn the fish.
- Remove from the oven and garnish it with parsley.
- Serve it with veggies, salad, rice, or quinoa.
- Baking time may vary slightly due to thickness of fish and your oven. Check the salmon every 5 mins after the cooking time.
- The salmon can also be wrapped in parchment paper.”