Mackerel vs. Salmon — Health Impact and Nutrition Comparison
Mackerel is higher in calories and fats, and it is richer in proteins, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, copper, selenium, iron, and vitamins B2 and B12. It has higher mercury levels. On the other hand, Salmon is richer in omega-3 fats, vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, E, D, and folate.
Table of contents
- What are their main differences?
- Nutritional content comparison
- Health impacts and diets
- Health impacts
- Downsides and risks
Mackerel are saltwater fish that usually live in schools of fish in the ocean. They are about 30 cm on average, and they are considered fatty fish due to their rich profile in omega fats. Mackerel are mostly eaten in Europe, specifically Germany, the United Kingdom, and France. The three countries combined consumed 51% of the total mackerel market globally. Mackerel fish have a property which is spoilage, and mackerel fish skin gets spoiled very quickly. However, it is a fish that is commonly eaten and has oily meat. Mackerel fish can be wild type and farmed; most of the market is wild type.
Salmon, on the other hand, live in saltwater areas. However, migrating to sweetwater areas to breed. There are two types of salmon, which are the wild type and the farmed type. Opposite to mackerel, most of the salmon fish is farmed, and in size, it is bigger. It is also an oily fish and is mostly eaten in Europe specifically, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, among other countries. Salmon has a bigger market than mackerel fish globally, highlighting its importance in the culinary world.
In this article, we will discuss the difference between mackerel and salmon according to their main differences, nutritional content comparison, weight loss and diets, and health impacts.
What are their main differences?
Their differences come on different layers,: taste, flavor, size, types, price, shelf life, and the culinary world.
Taste and flavor
Mackerel and salmon are oily fish. Mackerel is a bony fish and is less salty than salmon, it has an authentic taste, but some describe it as close to tuna. Salmon, on the other hand, has fleshier meat and has an authentic smoky, fresh taste.
The average size of a mackerel fish is small compared to salmon. Mackerel are 30 cm on average, whereas salmon are larger than that on average.
There are over 30 types of mackerel that are very close to one another, although many differences do exist between them. On the other hand, there are fewer types of salmon than mackerel; most varieties are within the pacific types.
Salmon is a more expensive fish than mackerel. As better the fish gets and if it is smoked or not, all these factors make the salmon more expensive than the standard.
Mackerel has a very short life, even if refrigerated. The skin of the mackerel spoils quickly; thus, most mackerel found in markets are either salted, cured, or pickled so that it doesn’t get spoiled. On the other hand, salmon has a longer shelf life.
Mackerel is mostly available in cured and pickled forms in the market. They are even available as fresh; however, fresh mackerel has to be eaten the same day that it is caught. Different varieties of foods can be prepared with mackerel, for example, fried, pan-grilled, chargrilled, added to rice, and can even be consumed pickled and cured.
On the other hand, salmon has a wider variety of usages. Salmon is consumed raw, most notably in Japanese sushi. They can also be grilled and smoked before being served as a salmon steak. Salmon can also be found in soups and warm dishes in European countries.
Nutritional content comparison
Salmon and mackerel have a glycemic index equal to 0.
Mackerel has higher calories than salmon. Mackerel contains 262 calories per 100g, whereas salmon contains 206 calories for the same weight.
Mackerel and salmon are devoid of carbohydrates. Their carb content is 0.
Mackerel and salmon are very rich in proteins, and their essential amino acid profiles are very versatile and rich. For comparative reasons, mackerel is richer in proteins compared to salmon.
Mackerel and salmon are fatty fish; however, mackerel contains much more fat than salmon.
Salmon contains lower amounts of saturated fats; however, mackerel contains higher amounts of monounsaturated fats.
In the diagram below, we can visualize their distributions.
When it comes to the most important fat in these fishes, the omega-3 DHA/EPA fats, salmon is a better source of omega fats than mackerel.
Fat Type Comparison
Salmon and mackerel have very rich and versatile vitamin profiles. Salmon is richer in vitamins B1, B3, B5, B6, E, D, and folate. Of these vitamins, B3, B5, and B6 are more than the recommended daily values; in addition, vitamin B12, which is also high in salmon (however, less than the vitamin B12 content of mackerel), is also more than the recommended daily value.
On the other hand, mackerel is richer in vitamins B2 and B12.
Mackerel is richer in phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, copper, selenium, and iron.
Health impacts and diets
From the previous section, we can conclude that both mackerel and salmon are packed with proteins, “good” fats, minerals, and vitamins. They contain 0 amounts of carbs and have a glycemic index equal to 0. All these combined qualify them to be a good match for dietary foods. However, there are some matters of concern; for example, cured or pickled mackerel are very high in sodium and high in trans fats, and cholesterol. In moderation and control, their intake shouldn’t cause any health issues.
Salmon and mackerel cannot be eaten in vegan diets as they are animal products.
Both mackerel and salmon are fit to be eaten on the keto diet. They contain 0g of carbs and have a glycemic index equal to 0, which is suitable for the keto diet. In addition to these, they are rich in “good fats,” vitamins, and minerals which overall provide a good balance to everyday meals.
Because of their high protein content, both mackerel and salmon are highly recommended for bodybuilders and athletes, in addition to their mineral and vitamin content, which replaces their biochemical requirements for long-term health and outcomes.
Omega-3 fatty acids may improve heart function by lowering blood triglyceride levels, acting as an antihypertensive, antiarrhythmic, and anti-atherogenic agent. (1)
Omega-3 fatty acids are antiarrhythmic, antithrombotic, and anti-inflammatory. Omega-3 fats are recommended in the dietetic plan for people who have hyperlipidemia, hypertension, and arthritis. Omega-3 and medications don’t react. (2)
Researchers from the American Medical Association Journal discovered that omega-3 fatty acids could lower blood pressure and minimize your risk of developing heart disease. (3)
Salmon contains bioactive PLs that have antithrombotic and anti-atherogenic cardioprotective properties. (4)
Higher doses of omega-3 fatty acids are necessary to reduce increased triglyceride levels (2 to 4g per day) as well as morning stiffness and the number of sensitive joints in rheumatoid arthritis patients (at least 3g per day). (5) (6)
According to research, gamma-tocopherol (gT) has positive cardiovascular effects due to its anti-inflammatory activity. (7)
Diabetes therapy is based on dietary recommendations, including changes in dietary fat quality. Increased intake of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids from fatty fish (salmon, sardine) and omega-6 fatty acids from linoleic acid may be suggested for type 2 diabetes patients. (8)
A high-fat diet supplemented with fish oil improved metabolic characteristics linked with type 2 diabetes, such as decreased glucose tolerance and hepatic steatosis. (9)
Consumption of omega fats reduces the risk of developing cancer. Vitamins A, D, and omega fats have anti-inflammatory effects and inhibit the growth of prostatic, colon, and mammary carcinomas. (10)
Salmon and mackerel have anti-inflammatory properties due to their omega-3 content, which may contribute to their preventive activities against atherosclerosis, and plaque rupture and reduce risks of cardiovascular mortality. (1)
Carotenoids are found in salmon, a red-colored fish (astaxanthin). Because of its high antioxidant capabilities, astaxanthin may have biological activities relating to growth, reproduction, and tissue health. (11)
Astaxanthin also possesses antibacterial properties against Helicobacter pylori. (11)
Downsides and risks
Farmed salmon and mackerel may raise the risk of cancer due to pollution. Toxicity and cancer risk may be minimal in fish produced under controlled conditions. (5)
Mercury, babies, and pregnancy
Methylmercury, which is present in wild salmon and mackerel, can build up in human tissues. It affects the development of the brain and nervous tissue in babies. On the other hand, mackerel is high in mercury; specifically, king mackerel has very high levels of mercury. (12)
- Omega-3 fatty acids and blood pressure
Comparison summary table
|Lower in Sodium|
|Lower in Cholesterol|
|Lower in Saturated Fat|
|Rich in vitamins|
|Lower in Sugar|
|Lower in price|
|Rich in minerals|
|Lower in Glycemic Index||Equal|
All nutrients comparison - raw data values
|Vitamin A RAE||54µg||69µg|
|Omega-3 - DHA||0.699g||1.457g|
|Omega-3 - EPA||0.504g||0.69g|
|Omega-3 - DPA||0.106g||0.17g|
Which food is preferable for your diet?
|Low Fats diet|
|Low Carbs diet||Equal|
|Low Calories diet|
|Low Glycemic Index diet||Equal|