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Why is poached salmon good?

Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. Poaching salmon is a healthy way to prepare this delicious fish while retaining maximum nutrients. There are many benefits to eating poached salmon regularly.

Nutritional Benefits

Salmon is packed with important nutrients that provide major health benefits. Here is an overview of the impressive nutrition you get from a 6-ounce serving of poached salmon:

Nutrient Amount in 6oz Poached Salmon Percent Daily Value
Calories 326 16%
Fat 16g 25%
Saturated Fat 2g 10%
Cholesterol 109mg 36%
Sodium 118mg 5%
Carbohydrates 0g 0%
Fiber 0g 0%
Sugars 0g 0%
Protein 39g 78%
Vitamin A 10% 10%
Vitamin C 10% 10%
Calcium 6% 6%
Iron 8% 8%
Potassium 28% 28%

As you can see, salmon contains high-quality protein and is an excellent source of important nutrients like niacin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, omega-3 fatty acids and potassium. The American Heart Association recommends eating fatty fish like salmon at least twice a week for heart health.

High in Omega-3s

Salmon is one of the best natural sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids like EPA and DHA. Consuming adequate omega-3s from foods like salmon has been linked to many benefits:

  • Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
  • Lower blood triglycerides
  • Improved brain health and cognition
  • Better eye health
  • Help controlling blood sugar levels
  • Decreased inflammation
  • Slower mental decline
  • Reduced symptoms of depression
  • Protection against autoimmune disease

Omega-3s are exceptionally important for health, which makes salmon an optimal choice. Just one serving of salmon can meet and exceed the recommended daily intake for omega-3s.

High-Quality Protein

Salmon contains around 39 grams of protein per 6-ounce serving. The protein in salmon provides all the essential amino acids your body needs. Adequate protein intake is important for:

  • Building and repairing muscle
  • Strong bones
  • Boosting metabolism
  • Curbing hunger and appetite
  • Aiding weight management
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Optimizing body composition
  • Injury recovery
  • Healthy aging

Protein is vital at all stages of life, especially as you get older and start losing muscle mass. Eating salmon and other high-quality protein sources helps prevent this age-related muscle loss.

Vitamins and Minerals

In addition to protein and omega-3s, salmon contains an array of important micronutrients:

B Vitamins

Salmon is a natural source of B vitamins, including:

  • Niacin: Supports energy production and nerve function. Deficiency is linked to fatigue and mental disorders.
  • Vitamin B12: Essential for blood cell formation, DNA synthesis, neurological function and energy metabolism. Low levels are associated with anemia, fatigue, nerve problems and memory loss.
  • Vitamin B6: Plays a role in over 100 enzyme reactions in the body. Needed for normal brain development and function.

B vitamins are water-soluble nutrients that must be obtained through your diet. Eating salmon regularly can help you meet your daily needs for B vitamins.

Vitamin D

Salmon is one of the few natural sources of vitamin D, which is lacking in many people’s diets. Vitamin D has roles in bone health, immune function, mood regulation, neuromuscular function and reducing inflammation.

It’s estimated that around 42% of the US population is vitamin D deficient. Salmon helps fill this nutrient gap, with around 426 IU of vitamin D in a 6-ounce serving.


Salmon provides around 50% of the RDI for selenium in a 6-ounce serving. Selenium is an essential mineral that has antioxidant properties and is important for thyroid and immune system function.


Salmon is a good source of potassium, which supports blood pressure, fluid balance, nerve signaling and muscle contraction.

Other Minerals

A serving of salmon also contains small amounts of minerals like iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium.

Poaching Salmon Maximizes Nutrition

Poaching is one of the healthiest ways to prepare salmon. It involves gently cooking the salmon in liquid at a low temperature, around 160–180°F (70–82°C).

Here are some reasons why poaching optimizes the nutrition in salmon:

  • Allows the salmon to retain moisture, keeping it tender.
  • Results in minimal nutrient loss compared to high-heat cooking methods.
  • Requires little or no added fat, keeping calories in check.
  • Easy clean up with no need for added oils.
  • Serves as a simple, light preparation that allows salmon’s delicious flavor to shine.

While grilled, fried or roasted salmon taste great, poaching maximizes the retention of healthy fats, vitamins and minerals.

Choosing Wild-Caught Salmon

To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, opt for wild-caught salmon over farmed whenever possible. Here’s why:

  • Higher in omega-3 fatty acids: The omega-3 content of farmed salmon depends on what it is fed. If the feed contains plant sources instead of smaller fish high in omega-3s, the nutritional quality declines.
  • Fewer contaminants: Farmed salmon may contain higher amounts of contaminants like PCBs, mercury, dioxins and other toxins, depending on farming conditions.
  • No artificial coloring: Some farmed salmon are fed synthetic astaxanthin to achieve a pink color. Wild salmon get their color from eating krill and other natural food sources.
  • Environmentally sustainable: Some salmon farms use poor aquaculture practices that spread disease and pollution.

That said, farmed salmon is still better than no salmon. Look for sustainably farmed salmon if wild is unavailable or unaffordable.

Poaching Cooking Instructions

Follow this simple step-by-step guide for perfectly poached salmon fillets at home:


  • 4 (6-ounce) skinless salmon fillets
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 5 black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • Fresh dill or parsley for garnish (optional)


  1. Place broth, water, vinegar, bay leaves, peppercorns and salt in a large skillet. Bring to a gentle simmer.
  2. Gently place fillets in the skillet in a single layer. Make sure they are fully submerged.
  3. Cover and cook at a bare simmer for 7–10 minutes, depending on thickness. Do not let the broth boil.
  4. Salmon is done when it flakes easily with a fork. Do not overcook.
  5. Transfer fillets to a plate. Discard poaching liquid.
  6. Optional: Top fillets with lemon slices and fresh herbs.

For added flavor, try poaching liquid options like low-sodium vegetable juice, white wine or citrus juice. Salmon can also be poached in heavy cream for a rich preparation.

Healthy Serving Suggestions

Poached salmon is very versatile and pairs nicely with many healthy side dishes and sauces, including:

  • Sautéed or roasted veggies like asparagus, broccoli or brussels sprouts
  • Quinoa or brown rice
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Spinach, kale or salad greens
  • Dilled yogurt sauce
  • Lemon caper sauce
  • Pesto
  • Salsa
  • Your favorite stir fry veggies

For a satisfying meal under 500 calories, enjoy poached salmon with sautéed kale and quinoa.

Simple Poached Salmon Recipes

Here are a few flavorful recipe ideas to enjoy poached salmon:

1. Lemon Dill Salmon

  • Salmon fillets poached in chicken broth with lemon slices
  • Topped with a tangy yogurt dill sauce
  • Served with brown rice and asparagus

2. Cajun Blackened Salmon

  • Salmon coated in Cajun seasoning then poached
  • Served over Cajun spiced black beans and rice
  • Topped with sliced avocado

3. Mediterranean Salmon Salad

  • Poached salmon flaked over spinach and romaine
  • With tomatoes, cucumbers, olives, feta and red onions
  • Tossed in a lemon vinaigrette

The Bottom Line

Poached salmon is a nutritious, protein-packed dish that offers major health benefits. It’s loaded with high-quality protein, anti-inflammatory omega-3s, B vitamins, potassium and other important nutrients.

Gently cooking salmon by poaching retains more nutrients than high-heat cooking methods. For maximum health benefits, select wild salmon over farmed.

Incorporate poached salmon into your weekly meal rotation and enjoy with seasonal veggies and whole grains for a satisfying, nutritious dish that takes under 30 minutes to make.