Not only is smoked salmon delicious and convenient, there are a surprising number of health benefits that make this a good go-to food. Take a look at the health benefits we’ve compiled below to see what health-boosting nutrients this popular food has and the best ways to work it into your diet.

Essential Omega-3

According to WebMD, salmon is one of the best sources of essential fatty acids such as Omega-3s. While many people turn to Omega-3 supplements, it’s best to consume it directly from food sources. The health benefits of Omega-3s are far-reaching. They can lower blood fat levels, curb stiffness and pain associated with arthritis, and can even help curb depression. Omega-3s are also a major brain-booster, having long been associated with improved mental clarity, memory, and cognitive development. Omega-3s are also linked to reduced risks of cancer and reduced inflammation, which means they’re helpful for asthma sufferers and can improve the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory medications.

Protein for Mind and Body

You know that protein is essential for a health body and helps ensure your mind is working at its best, but did you know how much protein is packed into smoked salmon? A 3.5-ounce serving of the fish includes at least 22 grams of protein. Since about 20-30 grams of protein are suggested for each meal, this may be up to about a third of your daily protein intake. What’s more, getting enough protein has been linked to weight loss, can help assist the body in healing, and may improve bone health.

Bursting With B Vitamins

Another health benefit of consuming smoked salmon is its high level of B vitamins. Salmon is a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), folic acid (B9), and vitamins B6 and B12. In fact, a single serving of salmon can provide fifty percent of the recommended daily values of B12 and niacin. Why should you be concerned about getting enough B vitamins? These are essential for a number of the body’s functions, from helping the metabolic process to creating and repairing DNA. B vitamins also work to promote and protect brain and heart health.

Packed With Potassium

You probably know that bananas are a great source of potassium. You might be surprised to find out, however, that a serving of smoked salmon actually provides even more potassium than a banana. In fact, according to Healthline, smoked salmon that is made from wild-caught fish may even have up to 18 percent of your daily value of potassium, nearly twice that of your average banana. Potassium is important in helping control blood pressure and may reduce your risk of stroke.

Powerful Thyroid Booster

Another lesser-known nutrient found in smoked salmon is selenium. Selenium is important to the function of a healthy thyroid and salmon is a good source of it. Appropriate selenium intake has been associated with weight loss and a lower risk of diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

An Antioxidant-Rich Food

You’ve probably heard plenty about the importance of antioxidants, but did you know that smoked salmon is a good source of them? It’s true. Salmon is especially rich in a specific antioxidant called astaxanthin. This antioxidant is one of the most powerful, linked to protecting your body’s cells, organs, and tissues. The health benefits of this antioxidant are many, ranging from improved cardiovascular health and a strong immune system to improved endurance and a healthier brain. It’s even been looked at in some studies for its association with better skin.

Health Benefits Outweigh Drawbacks

While it’s clear that smoked salmon offers multiple health benefits for both the body and mind, some people may be concerned by the fact that is is smoked. However, you don’t need to be. According to nutrition experts, the incredible health benefits of smoked salmon outweigh potential drawbacks.

The biggest risk factor when consuming salmon in its smoked form is in terms of sodium content. For this reason, anyone with or at risk of high blood pressure should watch the amounts of sodium they consume and so should simply choose fresh salmon over smoked varieties when possible.

Make Smoked Salmon Part of Your Meal

There are tons of creative ways that you can work smoked salmon into your next meal or snack and cash in on its incredible health benefits. Here are a few:

  • Protein packed spread: Blend smoked salmon with low-fat cream cheese, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce for a healthy alternative to dip your veggies in.
  • Soup or chowder add in: Swap the high fat bacon in your favorite soup and chowder recipes for smoked salmon. You get the same flavor boost but with many more health benefits.
  • Breakfast champion: Skip the sausage and pair your morning eggs with a side of smoked salmon.
  • Sandwiches and wraps: Give your boring wraps and sandwiches a smoky, flavorful twist by using smoked salmon in them, next to fresh veggies and your favorite condiments.