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Salmon vs Mackerel - Health impact and Nutrition Comparison

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Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian by Jack Yacoubian | Last updated on September 13, 2021
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Salmon
vs
Mackerel

Summary

Mackerel is higher in calories and fats, and it is richer in phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, potassium, iron, vitamins B12, K, D, E, and A. It has higher mercury levels. On the other hand, salmon is richer in omega fats, copper, vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate.

Introduction

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.

Size

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.

Types

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.

Price

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.

Shelf life

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.

Culinary world

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

Glycemic index

Salmon and mackerel have a glycemic index equal to 0.

Calories

Mackerel has double the calories of salmon. Mackerel contains 305 calories per 100g, whereas salmon contains 145 calories for the same weight.

Carbohydrates

Mackerel and salmon are devoid of carbohydrates. Their carb content is 0.

Protein

Mackerel and salmon are very rich in proteins, and their essential amino acid profiles are very versatile and rich. Salmon contains one more gram of protein than mackerel for 100g of each.

Fats

Mackerel and salmon are fatty fish; however, mackerel contains much more fat than salmon. Mackerel contains four times more fat than salmon, which is a remarkable difference considering the dairy intakes.

The fat profile of salmon is healthier than that of mackerel. The ratio of saturated fat to unsaturated fats is less in salmon than in mackerel.

In addition to that, it is important to note that salmon is lower in cholesterol and trans fats. Salmon has nearly half the amount of cholesterol and trans fat compared to mackerel.

Omega fats

Although all the fats are lower in salmon than mackerel, 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 mackerel.

Vitamins

Salmon and mackerel have very rich and versatile vitamin profiles. Salmon is richer in vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, and folate. Of these vitamins, B3, B5, 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 B12, K, D, E, and A. Of these, vitamins B12 and D are more than the recommended daily value.

Vitamin Comparison

Vitamin comparison score is based on the number of vitamins by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Salmon
6
:
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1030%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +100%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +138.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +99.5%
Contains more Folate +66.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +292.5%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +277.4%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 3% 0% 0% 0% 57% 88% 148% 100% 189% 19% 398% 0%
Vitamin A Vitamin E Vitamin D Vitamin C Vitamin B1 Vitamin B2 Vitamin B3 Vitamin B5 Vitamin B6 Folate Vitamin B12 Vitamin K 10% 48% 756% 0% 5% 44% 62% 0% 95% 12% 1500% 20%
Contains more Vitamin B1 +1030%
Contains more Vitamin B2 +100%
Contains more Vitamin B3 +138.2%
Contains more Vitamin B6 +99.5%
Contains more Folate +66.7%
Contains more Vitamin A +292.5%
Contains more Vitamin B12 +277.4%

Minerals

Similar to their vitamin profiles, the mineral profiles of both are rich and versatile and packed with necessary minerals.

Mackerel is richer in phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, potassium, and iron. However, they are high in sodium. Mostly the ones that are pickled or cured. The amount of sodium surpasses the RDV by 400%, which is a matter of concern. Salmon, on the other hand, is richer in copper and has less sodium than mackerel.

Mineral Comparison

Mineral comparison score is based on the number of minerals by which one or the other food is richer. The "coverage" chart below show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of the food
Contains less Sodium -99%
Contains more Copper +150%
Contains more Calcium +450%
Contains more Iron +75%
Contains more Magnesium +106.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +27%
Contains more Zinc +71.9%
Equal in Potassium - 520
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 4% 30% 21% 86% 44% 6% 18% 84%
Calcium Iron Magnesium Phosphorus Potassium Sodium Zinc Copper 20% 53% 43% 109% 46% 581% 30% 34%
Contains less Sodium -99%
Contains more Copper +150%
Contains more Calcium +450%
Contains more Iron +75%
Contains more Magnesium +106.9%
Contains more Phosphorus +27%
Contains more Zinc +71.9%
Equal in Potassium - 520

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.

Vegan diet

Salmon and mackerel cannot be eaten in vegan diets as they are animal products.

Keto

Both mackerel and salmon are fit to be eaten in the keto diet. They contain 0g of carbs and have a glycemic index equal to 0, 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.

Bodybuilding

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.

Health impacts

Cardiovascular health

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

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)

Cancer

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)

Inflammation

Salmon and mackerel have anti-inflammatory properties due to their omega-3 content, which may contribute to their preventive activities against atherosclerosis, plaque rupture and reduce risks from cardiovascular mortality. (1)

Antioxidant activity

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

Cancer

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)

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3257651/
  2. Omega-3 fatty acids and blood pressure
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4171799/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6357043/
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0939475304800450
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712371/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26272221/
  8. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/94/1/26/4597878?login=true
  9. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900713001044
  10. https://academic.oup.com/ajcn/article/70/1/85/4714845?login=true
  11. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16431409/
  12. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2109.2009.02211.x
Article author photo Jack  Yacoubian
Education: Haigazian Medical University
Last updated: September 13, 2021

Infographic

Salmon vs Mackerel infographic
Infographic link

Comparison summary table

Pay attention to the most right column. It shows the amounts side by side, making it easier to realize the amount of difference.
Salmon Mackerel
Lower in Sugar ok
Lower in Sodium ok
Lower in Cholesterol ok
Lower in Saturated Fat ok
Lower in price ok
Rich in minerals ok
Lower in glycemic index Equal
Rich in vitamins Equal

All nutrients comparison - raw data values

Nutrient Salmon Mackerel Opinion
Net carbs 0g 0g
Protein 19.84g 18.5g Salmon
Fats 6.34g 25.1g Mackerel
Carbs 0g 0g
Calories 142kcal 305kcal Mackerel
Starch g g
Fructose g g
Sugar g 0g Salmon
Fiber 0g 0g
Calcium 12mg 66mg Mackerel
Iron 0.8mg 1.4mg Mackerel
Magnesium 29mg 60mg Mackerel
Phosphorus 200mg 254mg Mackerel
Potassium 490mg 520mg Mackerel
Sodium 44mg 4450mg Salmon
Zinc 0.64mg 1.1mg Mackerel
Copper 0.25mg 0.1mg Salmon
Vitamin A 40IU 157IU Mackerel
Vitamin E mg 2.38mg Mackerel
Vitamin D IU 1006IU Mackerel
Vitamin D µg 25.2µg Mackerel
Vitamin C 0mg 0mg
Vitamin B1 0.226mg 0.02mg Salmon
Vitamin B2 0.38mg 0.19mg Salmon
Vitamin B3 7.86mg 3.3mg Salmon
Vitamin B5 1.664mg mg Salmon
Vitamin B6 0.818mg 0.41mg Salmon
Folate 25µg 15µg Salmon
Vitamin B12 3.18µg 12µg Mackerel
Vitamin K µg 7.8µg Mackerel
Tryptophan 0.222mg mg Salmon
Threonine 0.87mg mg Salmon
Isoleucine 0.914mg mg Salmon
Leucine 1.613mg mg Salmon
Lysine 1.822mg mg Salmon
Methionine 0.587mg mg Salmon
Phenylalanine 0.775mg mg Salmon
Valine 1.022mg mg Salmon
Histidine 0.584mg mg Salmon
Cholesterol 55mg 95mg Salmon
Trans Fat g g
Saturated Fat 0.981g 7.148g Salmon
Monounsaturated Fat 2.103g 8.32g Mackerel
Polyunsaturated fat 2.539g 6.21g Mackerel

Which food is preferable for your diet?

ok
ok
is better in case of low diet
Salmon Mackerel
Low Fats diet ok
Low Carbs diet Equal
Low Calories diet ok
Low glycemic index diet Equal

People also compare

Vitamin and Mineral Summary Scores

The summary score is calculated by summing up the daily values contained in 300 grams of the product. Obviously the more the food fulfills human daily needs, the more the summary score is.
Vitamin Summary Score
83
Salmon
212
Mackerel
Mineral Summary Score
36
Salmon
114
Mackerel

Macronutrients Comparison

Macronutrient comparison charts compare the amount of protein, total fats, and total carbohydrates in 300 grams of the food. The displayed values show how much of the daily needs can be covered by 300 grams of food.
Protein
119%
Salmon
111%
Mackerel
Carbohydrates
0%
Salmon
0%
Mackerel
Fats
29%
Salmon
116%
Mackerel

Comparison summary

Which food is lower in Sugar?
Salmon
Salmon is lower in Sugar (difference - 0g)
Which food contains less Sodium?
Salmon
Salmon contains less Sodium (difference - 4406mg)
Which food is lower in Cholesterol?
Salmon
Salmon is lower in Cholesterol (difference - 40mg)
Which food is lower in Saturated Fat?
Salmon
Salmon is lower in Saturated Fat (difference - 6.167g)
Which food is cheaper?
Mackerel
Mackerel is cheaper (difference - $6)
Which food is richer in minerals?
Mackerel
Mackerel is relatively richer in minerals
Which food is lower in glycemic index?
?
The foods have equal glycemic indexes (0)
Which food is richer in vitamins?
?
It cannot be stated which food is richer in vitamins. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information. See the charts below for detailed information.

References

The source of all the nutrient values on the page (excluding the main article the sources for which are presented separately if present) is the USDA's FoodCentral. The exact links to the foods presented on this page can be found below.

  1. Salmon - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/173686/nutrients
  2. Mackerel - https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/168149/nutrients

All the Daily Values are presented for males aged 31-50, for 2000 calorie diets.

Data provided by FoodStruct.com should be considered and used as information only. Please consult your physician before beginning any diet.