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Ask Dr. Gourmet

What is the difference between pink and red canned salmon?

What is the difference between pink canned salmon and red canned salmon? Is one better for you than the other?

Dr. Gourmet Says...

Canned Salmon

Pink and red canned salmon come from two different species of salmon.

Pink salmon is also known as the humpback salmon. Red salmon, on the other hand, is a common nickname for sockeye salmon. Both are Pacific salmon and are generally caught in the wild; they are not farmed as most of the Atlantic salmon on the market is today.

There is some difference between red and pink salmon, with the main difference being the amount of fat. For example, canned pink salmon contains 152 calories in a 4 ounce serving and has 5 grams of fat. Red (sockeye) has about 8 grams of fat and comes in at 186 calories for the same 4 ounce serving.

There's no doubt that eating salmon is good for you with its high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids. Study after study has shown the benefit of such fatty fish in preventing heart disease and other illness. Both of these canned salmon varieties are good for you, and I would not say that one is necessarily better for you than the other.

The great thing about canned salmon is that you can use it in almost any recipe where you would use canned tuna. In some cases you might even substitute it in a salad recipe that calls for chicken. Here are a few examples:

Use salmon instead of tuna:
Tuna Pesto Macaroni Salad
Tuna and Chickpea Salad
Ensalada Rusa
Chipotle Tuna Salad
Curried Tuna Salad
Valencian Tuna and Onion Salad

Use salmon instead of chicken:
Smoked Paprika Chicken and Penne Salad
Chicken and Rice Salad
Chicken Salad

Use salmon instead of egg:
Egg Salad with Roasted Onion
Egg Salad with Avocado

Thanks for writing,

Timothy S. Harlan, MD, FACP, CCMS
Dr. Gourmet