Can you eat pink salmon?

In this article, I will answer the question: “Can you eat pink salmon?” And I will list the benefits of this dish and give you amazing recipe ideas.

Can you eat pink salmon?

Yes, you can eat pink salmon. Their light flesh is mildly flavored and has a great texture.

Despite the fact that pink salmon has a lower commercial value than other salmon due to its lower oil content, commercially harvested pink salmon is now canned, fileted and flash frozen, formed into nuggets, and processed into entire pre-packaged meals that are marketed all over the world.

What are the characteristics of pink salmon?

In the North Pacific Ocean, the pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) is the most abundant salmon. This fish species can be found along the North American shores from Alaska to Puget Sound (Washington State). The pink salmon has the shortest life span of any Pacific salmon species, maturing and completing the whole life cycle in about two years. Studies reveal two important global climate factors that affect pink salmon stock abundance. The first is the influence of precipitation and air temperature on the spawning grounds, especially in winter and early spring. The second is the influence of atmospheric circulation patterns on surface water along feeding and migration routes (1).

Because of its small size, the Pink salmon – also named “The Humpback Salmon”- stands out among the other Pacific salmon species, but it also has other distinguishing characteristics. They have a large dark oval spot on their back and tail. Pink salmons that are younger will be mostly silver, with no darker regions (2).

They have silvery, luminous flesh when they are in saltwater. Their hue changes to a yellow-white on the belly and a pale gray on the back when they spawn in streams. On the back, pink salmon has a blue-green or steel blue color.

Because the males acquire a sharp hump on their backside, pink salmon are known as “humpback” salmon. Females will have a brighter white bellow, but then change to a dark olive green color with patches or reddish bars that will be either dark gold or lavender.

What are the benefits of pink salmon?

A 124-gram pink salmon filet cooked at dry heat contains around 190 calories, 61% of the daily amount of protein, 10% of the daily value of fat, 18% of the daily value of saturated fat, 5% of the daily value of sodium, and 23% of the daily value of cholesterol. There is no fiber or carbs in pink salmon.

  1. Proteins:

Protein accounts for 64% of the calories in pink salmon. Protein is broken down into amino acids via metabolism. These amino acids are essential for fetal and childhood growth and development, as well as cell synthesis, repair, and maintenance. According to the USDA, salmon is high in both essential and conditional amino acids. Salmon calcitonin, a 32-amino acid peptide with blood calcium lowering functions has been used for medical purposes for more than 30 years. Calcitonin preserves bone quality and has been used in the treatment of metabolic bone diseases as osteoporosis and Paget’s disease and has also shown potentials for the treatment of osteoarthritis and to reduce postmenopausal osteoporosis (3).

  1. Fats:

There are 6.6 grams of fat in a 124-gram pink salmon filet, but 49 percent of the fat is heart-healthy mono- and polyunsaturated fats. These fats aid in cholesterol reduction and the prevention of coronary artery disease and Type 2 diabetes.

According to previous studies, cooked humpback salmon appeared to be a good source of omega 3 polyunsaturated fats namely EPA and DHA.

Long-chain (n-3) fatty acids, or PUFAs, have long been recognized as important components of the human diet. These acids, notably EPA and DHA, appeared to be essential in ontogenesis, specifically cerebral development, cardiovascular system function, and immune system function.There is convincing evidence that EPA and DHA and their precursor, -linolenic acid, play important roles in preventing arrhythmia following myocardial infarction and sudden death and preventing Alzheimer’s disease. This evidence comes from epidemiologic studies, prospective cohort studies, and randomized clinical trials. Other studies suggest that (n-3) fatty acids may slow the progression of chronic inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, autoimmune diseases, and diabetes (3).

Regular consumption of foods high in EPA and DHA helps to prevent and treat depression, cardiovascular disease, and a variety of other illnesses.

  1. Selenium:

Selenium is a dietary mineral that the body requires in modest quantities but is nonetheless necessary. Selenium binds to proteins to form selenoproteins, antioxidant enzymes that protect cells from free radical damage. Selenoproteins lower the risk of heart disease and cancer, regulate thyroid function, and strengthen the immune system. Low levels of selenium have been associated with myocardial infarcts and increased death rate from cardiovascular disease. Beside this, low levels of selenium have been correlated with increased risk of cancer and renal disease (3). According to the National Institutes of Health, they may also help with arthritis pain. Pink salmon contains 85 percent of the recommended dietary intake for selenium in a 124-gram serving.

  1. Vitamins:
  • Pink salmon is also a good source of vitamin B12 that is necessary for the development of red blood cells, neurological function, and DNA synthesis.
  • On the other hand, a serving of pink salmon contains 107 percent of the recommended daily allowance of vitamin D. Deficiency of vitamin D leads among others to rickets, osteomalacia, a low bone mineral density and thereby to osteoporosis (3)

Vitamin D improves calcium absorption as well as maintaining the body’s calcium and phosphorus balance, which is essential for bone health. It regulates cell growth, brain function, and immune function, and it may help prevent osteoporosis, some cancers, Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and multiple sclerosis (3).

  • Pink salmon also contains niacin. A serving contains 74% of the RDA of niacin. Niacin is a water-soluble vitamin that aids in the conversion of food into energy in the body. It also has an impact on the health of the skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system.

What are the risks related to eating raw pink salmon?

Salmon were found to be infected with larvae (Anisakidae larvae) that can move from the body cavity to the edible muscles if fish are not gutted right away after fishing. Humans can become hosts of this larva by eating raw or undercooked fish. Ingesting live larvae can induce digestive problems and allergic reactions known as anisakidosis (4).

Furthermore, allergic reactions can occur when exposed to allergens from dead larvae through food, air, or skin contact. As a result, the presence of Anisakidae larvae in pink salmon could be dangerous to people’s health.

Before entering the market in European Union countries, fishery products, including pink salmon, should be inspected for parasites, particularly Anisakidae larvae. Visual inspection is the official method for parasite identification (Regulation 2074/2005/EC). The pressing procedure, followed by an analysis of deep-frozen filets under UV light, is the most prevalent screening approach in the fish industry. In laboratories, the artificial digestion procedure is also used to extract larvae from fish filets destined for the market. Depending on the amount of larvae identified, fish found positive for Anisakidae larvae should be eliminated.

In addition, contaminants in farmed Atlantic and wild Pacific salmon raise important questions about the competing health benefits and risks of salmon consumption. Wild salmon have significantly lower contaminant concentrations than farmed salmon from any region; however, fatty acid concentrations in farmed salmon are significantly higher than those in wild salmon. As a result, risk associated with exposure to non-carcinogenic contaminants in farmed and wild salmon may, in some cases, be outweighed by the fatty acid–associated health benefits of consuming these fish. Further, the relatively lower contaminant concentrations in Chilean and North American farmed fish (compared with farmed fish from other regions) appear to balance the benefit-risk ratios for these fish compared with their wild counterparts (5).

How can you make sure your salmon is safe?

  1. Cook it (to an internal temperature of at least 145°F).
  2. Put it in the freezer (at -4°F or below for several days or -31°F or below for 15 hours).

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, “it’s always recommended to fully cook fish to limit the risk of foodborne disease.” “However, if you’d rather eat raw fish, one general rule is to eat fish that has been previously frozen.”

Freezing kills parasites, but it may not kill all potentially hazardous pathogens, according to the FDA. “That’s why cooking your fish is the safest option.”

How to eat pink salmon?

Pinks are a delicate fish that taste best when grilled with the skin side down to preserve the subtle flavors. When cured, steamed, or poached, pinks show off their greatest features.

On the other hand, canned salmon can be a convenient and cost-effective option that eliminates the need for cooking while maintaining the same delectable flavors and nutritional benefits as fresh salmon.

Canned salmon is the healthier protein choice, whether you’re creating a fast salad for lunch or flavorful tacos for night.

Here are some smart ways to eat canned salmon:

  • Combine canned salmon with a small amount of low-fat mayonnaise. Finely sliced onion can also be added.
  • Cover a whole-wheat tortilla wrap with salmon salad and chopped lettuce.
  • Make a toasted salmon sandwich with whole-grain bread, lettuce, and tomato slices.
  • A salmon wrap with grated carrot and spinach is a tasty option.

Whether grilled, steamed, poached or canned, pink salmon can be eaten in a variety of ways. By incorporating it into your meals, you may enjoy its delicate flavor while also getting all the benefits of its nutritional richness.

Other FAQs about Salmon that you may be interested in.

How long can salmon last in the fridge?

Can you freeze baked salmon?

Can you eat spawning salmon?

Can you get sick from eating undercooked salmon?


In this paper, I answered the question “Can you eat pink salmon?” and I listed the benefits of this fish on your health, as well as the potential risks related to its consumption. I finally gave you some tips to include it in your meals.

Feel free to contact me for any further information related to this subject.


  1. Radchenko, Vladimir I., Olga S. Temnykh, and Viktor V. Lapko. Trends in abundance and biological characteristics of pink salmon (Oncorhynchus gorbuscha) in the North Pacific Ocean. North Pacif Anadr Fish Comm Bull, 2007, 4, 7-21. 
  2. Anchorage Area Fishing Opportunities. Alaska Government. 2013. 
  3. Khalili Tilami, Sarvenaz, and Sabine Sampels. Nutritional value of fish: lipids, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Rev Fish Sci Aquacul, 2018, 26, 243-253.    
  4. Setyobudi, Eko, et al. Occurrence and identification of Anisakis spp.(Nematoda: Anisakidae) isolated from chum salmon (Oncorhynchus keta) in Korea. Parasit Res, 2011,108, 585-592.
  5. Foran, Jeffery A., et al. Quantitative analysis of the benefits and risks of consuming farmed and wild salmon. J nutr, 2005, 135, 2639-2643.