- Salmon is a lean and healthy protein for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Rich in omega-3s and low in saturated fats, salmon can help to reduce the risk of heart disease and inflammation.
- Regular consumption of salmon may help to reduce the risk of common diabetes complications, including heart attack and stroke.
Salmon is often labeled a “superfood” because of its nutritional profile. Though there is no official definition or regulation of the term “superfood” by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), salmon is one example of a food coined under that umbrella term that can offer a myriad of health benefits for many people, including those with type 2 diabetes.
Salmon is a type of fish that is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and high in protein, vitamin B12, and selenium. It can help people with type 2 diabetes reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke, among other benefits. In this article, you’ll learn more about how eating salmon can benefit your health if you have type 2 diabetes and ways to incorporate it into your diet in a nutritious and sustainable way.
Nourish offers personalized nutrition counseling to help you customize your diet to meet your diabetes needs. If you’re ready to take the next step in your health, consider booking a virtual appointment with a Registered Dietitian.
Is Salmon Good for Diabetes?
According to the American Diabetes Association (ADA), salmon and other kinds of fish that are high in healthy fats (sometimes referred to as “fatty fish,” although they are still considered to be lean proteins by most experts) are good for people with type 2 diabetes because they help lower the risk of heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, stroke, and inflammation.
Types of Salmon
In total, there are seven species of salmon that live in the Pacific, five of which can be found in North America:
- Chinook (King) salmon.
- Coho salmon.
- Chum salmon.
- Sockeye salmon.
- Pink salmon (the most abundant type of salmon in the Pacific Ocean).
Two additional species of Pacific salmon can be found in Asia:
- Masu salmon.
- Amago salmon.
One additional species of salmon is called Atlantic salmon, named for the ocean in which it lives. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Atlantic salmon make up 90% of the farmed salmon market.
If you’re new to eating salmon, trying different varieties can help you determine which type you like best. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the nutritional properties can vary slightly among the varieties as well as depending on whether the fish you buy is wild-caught or farm-raised. Considering purchasing wild-caught salmon can also support more sustainable food practices.
Though the nutritional properties of salmon can vary depending on which type you’re eating and how it was caught or raised, below are the general nutritional facts of salmon according to the United States Department of Agriculture per seven ounces of fish (This is roughly the size of a deck and a half of cards):
- 281 calories.
- 39.2g of protein.
- 12.6g of fat.
- 1.94g of saturated fat.
- 0g of carbohydrates.
- 0g of fiber.
- 23.8mg of calcium.
- 57.4mg of magnesium.
- 970mg of potassium.
- 87.1mg of sodium.
- 5.03g of fatty acids.
- 109mg of cholesterol.
- 6.3µg of vitamin B12.
- 72.3µg of selenium.
Benefits of Eating Salmon with Diabetes
There are several health benefits of eating salmon for people with diabetes. Below, we delve into some of the specific benefits provided by eating this fish.
High in Omega-3s
Salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, sometimes called omega-3 fats or omega-3s. These fats help to lower the risk of heart failure, heart disease, heart attack, and stroke, which are possible complications of diabetes. In fact, according to the third edition of Diabetes in America published in 2018, adults with diabetes are twice as likely to experience heart attack and stroke as adults without diabetes.
Low in Saturated Fats
Compared to other animal proteins like beef or pork, salmon is low in saturated fat. Saturated fats can raise blood cholesterol and the risk of heart disease, which are common concerns for people with diabetes.
High in Protein
According to the USDA, seven ounces of salmon contains 39.2g of protein. Getting an adequate amount of protein per day is important for all adults, including those with type 2 diabetes. The current recommendation according to the National Academies of Medicine recommends that adults should eat at least 0.8g of protein for each kilogram of weight each day (for an adult who weighs 140 pounds, their daily protein goal amounts to roughly 50g of protein per day). This recommendation applies to adults with and without diabetes.
High in Vitamin B12
Seven ounces of salmon also contains roughly 6.3µg of vitamin B12. People who take Metformin, a medication used to manage type 2 diabetes, can develop a vitamin B12 deficiency. If you’ve been diagnosed with a vitamin B12 deficiency, taking a vitamin B12 supplement or increasing your intake of foods rich in vitamin B12 can be beneficial to your health.
High in Selenium
Salmon is also a good source of selenium. Some research suggests that selenium may help to improve blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
Helps Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol
Research on whether fish like salmon can help lower blood pressure is sparse. However, some evidence suggests that eating the omega-3 rich fish may also help to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels in young adults.
According to the ADA, the omega-3s in salmon can also help reduce the risk of inflammation in people with diabetes. People with diabetes can develop inflammation, which can lead to complications of the disease.
How to Incorporate Salmon into Your Diet
The ADA recommends incorporating salmon or other types of fish high in omega-3 fats into your diet twice a week if you have diabetes.
If you’re new to eating salmon, experimenting with different preparations—as well as different varieties—can be an enjoyable way to meet this recommendation.
Tips for Preparing and Eating Salmon
There are several different ways to eat salmon that can help to keep the eating experience satisfying over time. But when you have diabetes, it’s important to think about food preparation when planning your meals. For example, using cooking oils that are lower in saturated fat, like olive oil, can be more beneficial to your health than alternatives that are higher in saturated fat, like butter. However, due to salmon’s natural fat content, there are some preparations that require very little-to-no added fats, like roasting.
Here are some popular ways to cook salmon:
- Raw, as is used in Japanese dishes like sashimi and nigiri (consider using fresh, wild-caught salmon for these preparations).
When cooking salmon at home, be sure to rinse the fish and check for any pin bones (small bones that can be found inside the flesh of the fish). Some fishmongers or supermarket staff will remove the pin bones for you when asked.
If you’re interested in adding salmon into your diet, Nourish can connect you with a Registered Dietitian specialized in diabetes management and meal planning. If you need help optimizing your diet, consider booking a virtual appointment today.
Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, and selenium that’s also low in saturated fat. Eating salmon twice per week can help to reduce your risk of heart disease, heart attack, stroke, and inflammation. For people with type 2 diabetes, this can be an especially important health benefit.
Managing Diabetes with an RD
Understanding which foods may help or harm your health when you have diabetes can seem overwhelming. Working with a diabetes dietitian can help you to incorporate salmon and other foods that may be beneficial to your health into your diet with ease.
Book an appointment with Nourish and see a registered dietitian through your insurance.
Frequently Asked Questions
See a Registered Dietitian with Nourish
- Covered by insurance
- Virtual sessions
- Personalized care