Cracking Open the Nutritional Potential of Canned Salmon: A Dietitian’s Guide

In the realm of nutritious foods, canned salmon often finds itself in the shadows, overshadowed by its fresh counterpart. However, as a registered dietitian, I’m here to shed light on the remarkable benefits of canned salmon, including the delightful smoked variety. We’ll explore how canned salmon compares to fresh salmon and share some delicious and health-conscious recipes to incorporate it into your diet.

The Nutritional Benefits of Salmon, Even When Canned

Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids:

Canned salmon is a superb source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These essential fats are celebrated for their role in heart health, reducing inflammation, and supporting brain function.

Packed with Protein:

Salmon is a protein powerhouse. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving can provide approximately 23 grams of protein, making it an excellent choice for maintaining muscle mass, promoting satiety, stable blood sugar levels, preventing malnutrition, and even supporting a good mood via neurotransmitter synthesis.

A Source of Calcium and Vitamin D:

Surprise! Canned salmon often includes the bones of the fish (don’t worry, they are completely soft), providing an unexpected source of calcium. Additionally, canned salmon that includes the skin also provides vitamin D, which is essential for bone health and immune function.


Canned salmon is budget-friendly and accessible year-round, offering an affordable way to enjoy the nutritional benefits of salmon.

Your Pantry Powerhouse During Outages and Quarantines:

In times of power outages or quarantine situations, canned salmon emerges as a true dietary ally. Its long shelf life and convenient packaging make it an excellent choice for maintaining a healthy diet when fresh options may be scarce. With canned salmon on hand, you can continue to enjoy the nutritional benefits of this fish even in challenging circumstances, ensuring that your diet remains both nourishing and delicious.

Canned Salmon vs. Fresh Salmon

Since testing my red blood cell omega 3s to see if I am getting enough in my diet, I’ve had a goal of eating fish 3x/week. This is a rather ambitious goal as getting to the store to buy fresh fish is not always easy. In the summer we eat more fish as my husband likes to fish, but it is still inconsistent. We may also try a frozen fish subscription box soon, but one of the main benefits to using canned salmon is its shelf life and convenience. Some of the benefits of canned salmon has over fresh include:

  • Convenience: Canned salmon wins in terms of convenience. It’s ready to use straight from the can, saving you time in meal preparation.
  • Long Shelf Life: Canned salmon has an extended shelf life, making it a pantry staple for those moments when fresh salmon is unavailable.
  • Budget-Friendly: Canned salmon is often more affordable than fresh salmon, making it a cost-effective way to incorporate nutrient-rich fish into your diet.
  • Reduced Waste: Using canned salmon helps reduce food waste since you can use it as needed without concerns about spoilage.

Varieties of Canned Salmon:

  • Pink Salmon: A milder flavor and lower in fat.
  • Red Salmon: Known for its rich, bold flavor and deep red color.
  • Smoked Salmon: Offers a unique, smoky flavor and is perfect for adding to salads or enjoying on crackers.

5 Recipe Ideas to Savor Canned Salmon

1. Salmon Salad: Mix canned salmon with Greek yogurt, diced celery, red onion, and a squeeze of lemon juice for a protein-packed and tangy salmon salad.

2. Salmon Burgers: Create delicious salmon burgers by combining canned salmon with breadcrumbs, an egg, and your choice of seasonings. Grill or pan-fry until golden brown and serve on whole-grain buns with fresh veggies.

3. Smoked Salmon Breakfast: Top whole-grain toast with cream cheese, smoked salmon, capers, and red onion slices for a delightful breakfast or brunch option.

4. Salmon Quinoa Bowl: Combine canned salmon with cooked quinoa, roasted vegetables, and a drizzle of tahini dressing for a nutritious and satisfying grain bowl.

5. Salmon Cakes: Form canned salmon into patties with breadcrumbs, spices, and an egg. Pan-fry until crisp and serve with a side of lemon aioli.

In summary, canned salmon, including the delightful smoked variety, deserves recognition for its nutritional prowess and convenience. As a registered dietitian, I encourage you to embrace canned salmon as a versatile and cost-effective way to enjoy the many benefits of this omega-3-rich fish. Whether you’re making a quick salmon salad or a gourmet salmon burger, canned salmon can be a valuable addition to your pantry and a source of delicious, health-conscious meals.

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Anne Marie Berggren RDN, MS, CDN, CNSC is a Registered Dietitian with a Master's Degree in Nutrition, training in integrative and functional nutrition, nutrition for mental health, obesity and weight management, is a board certified nutrition support clinician, and an adjunct professor for the Stony Brook Graduate Nutrition Program teaching advanced clinical nutrition.

1 thought on “Cracking Open the Nutritional Potential of Canned Salmon: A Dietitian’s Guide”

  1. Thanks, Anne Marie! I made salmon patties for decades using canned salmon. I found this article heartening considering that canned salmon is an affordable source of nutrients.

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