Is trout healthier than salmon?

Trout and salmon are both popular types of fish that are commonly eaten for their nutritional benefits. But when it comes to health, which one is better for you – trout or salmon?

Quick Summary

– Both trout and salmon are high in protein, low in saturated fat, and rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
– Trout tends to have fewer calories and total fat than salmon per serving.
– Salmon contains more vitamin D and selenium than trout.
– Trout provides more vitamin B12, potassium, and phosphorus than salmon.
– Overall, both fish are very nutritious. Trout may edge out salmon slightly in certain nutrients, but salmon has its own unique health perks.

Nutrition Profile of Trout vs Salmon

To compare the nutritional value of trout and salmon, let’s look at the nutrition facts for a 3 ounce cooked portion of each fish (data from the USDA):

Rainbow Trout (3oz)

– Calories: 128
– Protein: 22g
– Total Fat: 3g
– Saturated Fat: 1g
– Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 0.9g
– Vitamin B12: 2.9mcg (122% DV)
– Selenium: 27.8mcg (40% DV)
– Potassium: 416mg (11% DV)
– Phosphorus: 201mg (20% DV)

Atlantic Salmon (3oz)

– Calories: 155
– Protein: 22g
– Total Fat: 6g
– Saturated Fat: 1g
– Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 1.5g
– Vitamin B12: 2.2mcg (92% DV)
– Selenium: 44.8mcg (64% DV)
– Potassium: 348mg (9% DV)
– Phosphorus: 165mg (17% DV)

As you can see from the nutrition comparison, both trout and salmon are excellent sources of lean protein, providing 22 grams per 3 ounce cooked serving. They are both low in saturated fat as well.

Trout has fewer overall calories and less total fat than salmon – 128 calories and 3 grams of fat, versus 155 calories and 6 grams of fat in salmon. So trout has a slight edge if you are watching your calorie and fat intake.

However, salmon contains more omega-3 fatty acids, with 1.5 grams versus 0.9 grams in trout. Omega-3s are incredibly important for heart health, brain function, and reducing inflammation. Both fish provide healthy amounts, but salmon has 66% more than trout per serving.

Looking deeper into the vitamin and mineral content, trout edges out salmon again in a few key nutrients. Trout has 28% more vitamin B12, 22% more phosphorus, and 58% more potassium than salmon.

On the other hand, salmon contains significantly more selenium and vitamin D than trout. Selenium supports immune function and thyroid health, while vitamin D promotes strong bones and muscles.

Benefits of Trout for Health

Here are some of the top evidence-based ways that eating trout can benefit your health:

High Quality Protein

Trout is an excellent source of protein – a 3 ounce serving provides 22 grams. Protein plays vital roles in the body including building and repairing tissues, producing enzymes and hormones, and strengthening muscles and bones. The high protein content of trout makes it useful for maintaining muscle mass as you age.

Heart Healthy Fats

Although trout contains more total fat than some other types of fish, the majority of its fat content comes from heart healthy unsaturated fats like omega-3s. The American Heart Association recommends eating fish high in omega-3s at least two times per week for cardiovascular protection. The omega-3s in trout can help reduce triglycerides, lower blood pressure, prevent erratic heart rhythms, and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke.

Vitamin B12

Trout is an excellent source of vitamin B12 providing 122% of the daily value in just 3 ounces. Vitamin B12 plays a key role in red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. Many people are deficient in B12, which can cause fatigue, memory problems, and megaloblastic anemia. Trout’s high B12 content helps prevent a deficiency.


Trout contains 40% of the DV for selenium in a 3 ounce serving. This important mineral boosts immune response, regulates thyroid function, and acts as an antioxidant to protect against cell damage. Selenium also works synergistically with omega-3s to promote heart health.


With 20% of the DV in a serving, trout is high in phosphorus. Phosphorus works with calcium to build strong bones and teeth. It is also needed to synthesize protein for cell and tissue growth and repair.


Trout provides 11% of the DV for potassium which helps control blood pressure and balance fluids and electrolytes. Many people do not get enough potassium in their diets, so eating trout helps increase intake of this heart healthy mineral.


Trout contains 7% of the DV for niacin or vitamin B3. Niacin helps convert food into energy and promotes healthy skin, nerves, and cholesterol levels.

Benefits of Salmon for Health

What are some science-backed ways that eating salmon can improve your health?

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon is one of the best sources of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. A 3 ounce serving of salmon has 1.5 grams of omega-3s, meeting half of the daily target. Consuming salmon regularly can help reduce systemic inflammation to lower the risk of chronic diseases like heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Omega-3s also support brain health and development.

Vitamin D

Salmon is one of the few foods that naturally contains vitamin D. A 3 ounce serving has about 50% of the daily value. Vitamin D works with calcium to protect your bones against osteoporosis. It also regulates immune function and cell growth. Most people don’t get enough vitamin D, so eating vitamin D-rich salmon is an easy way to increase intake.


With 64% of the DV per serving, salmon is one of the richest dietary sources of selenium. Selenium has antioxidant properties that support a healthy immune system and regulate thyroid function. It also works with omega-3s to promote heart health.

B Vitamins

Salmon contains several important B vitamins including vitamins B12, B3 (niacin), B6, and B5 (pantothenic acid). These B vitamins help convert food into energy, produce red blood cells, support neurological function, maintain healthy skin and cholesterol levels, and reduce fatigue.

High Quality Protein

Like trout, salmon contains about 22 grams of protein per 3 ounce serving, providing around 44% of the daily value. Consuming salmon gives you a hefty dose of protein to maintain muscle mass, strength, and function as you age.


With 9% of the DV per serving, salmon contributes to your daily potassium needs. Potassium can help lower blood pressure by balancing out negative effects of sodium. Salmon provides this heart healthy mineral as part of an overall healthy diet.

Trout vs Salmon: Which is Healthier?

When comparing the nutritional benefits of trout versus salmon, is one fish clearly healthier than the other? The answer is that they are both very nutritious in their own ways.

Here is a quick summary comparing the health benefits of trout and salmon:


– Fewer calories and less total fat
– More vitamin B12, phosphorus and potassium
– High in selenium and omega-3s
– Excellent source of high quality protein


– Higher in omega-3 fatty acids
– Excellent source of vitamin D
– More selenium than trout
– High in B vitamins and protein
– Contains vitamin D, unlike trout

Overall both trout and salmon promote heart health, stronger bones and muscles, improved brain function, and a healthier immune system.

Trout offers slightly more vitamin B12, phosphorus, and potassium, while salmon contains more omega-3s, vitamin D, and selenium. But both provide high quality protein, healthy fats, and a range of vitamins and minerals.

For the average healthy person, regularly eating either fish will provide significant health improvements with minimal risks. If you had to choose just one, salmon may have a slight edge thanks to its anti-inflammatory omega-3 content and the rare vitamin D it provides.

However, incorporating both trout and salmon into your diet as recommended by health authorities will give you the greatest abundance and diversity of nutrients from these oily fish. Aim for at least two servings per week of either trout or salmon to gain the most benefits.

Risks of Eating Trout and Salmon

While trout and salmon can clearly improve health and reduce disease risk when eaten in recommended amounts, there are a few potential downsides to consider:

Environmental Pollutants

As fatty fish that dwell in lakes, rivers and oceans, trout and salmon can accumulate environmental pollutants like PCBs, dioxins, and mercury in their tissues. The levels accumulated depend on the specific environment of the fish. Consuming very frequent or large servings of fish exposed to high levels of pollutants may increase the risk of negative health effects over time.

To minimize exposure, it is important to choose wild caught trout and salmon from unpolluted waters. Consult local advisories about safe consumption levels for fish caught from certain lakes or rivers where you live. Limit consumption of farmed salmon, which may have higher contaminant levels in feed.


Fish allergies are among the top food allergies, especially in children. Salmon allergy is more common than trout. Symptoms can include hives, itching, swelling, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and anaphylaxis. People with fish allergies must avoid salmon and trout.

High Cholesterol

Although trout and salmon are low in saturated fat, the cholesterol content in a 3 ounce serving can range from about 55 to 85 milligrams. People with high cholesterol or triglycerides should limit total fat, including omega-3 fats, to less than 10% of total daily calories. Check with your doctor about specific fish intake recommendations.

Foodborne Illness

As with any type of meat or seafood, eating undercooked or improperly handled trout or salmon can increase the risk of foodborne illnesses. Salmonella and other bacteria can cause symptoms like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, and chills. Always cook seafood thoroughly to an internal temperature of at least 145 ̊F.

Interactions with Medications

The omega-3s in trout and salmon can interact with blood thinners and may increase bleeding risk. People taking anticoagulant or antiplatelet medications should keep fish intake consistent rather than increasing intake. Check with your doctor first if you take blood thinners.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are answers to some common questions about the health benefits of trout versus salmon:

Is trout or salmon better for weight loss?

Trout may be slightly better for weight loss because a 3 ounce serving contains fewer calories than salmon (128 calories in trout, 155 calories in salmon). Trout also has less total fat than salmon. However, both are considered low calorie, nutritious protein sources that can aid weight loss when included as part of a balanced, calorie-controlled diet.

Which has less mercury, trout or salmon?

Wild caught trout generally has lower mercury levels than salmon because it dwells in freshwater rather than oceans. Trout eats a diet of insects, smaller fish, and crustaceans that are lower on the food chain compared to carnivorous salmon. Farmed trout also has lower mercury risk than larger carnivorous fish.

Is trout or salmon better for pregnant women?

Both trout and salmon are excellent choices during pregnancy thanks to their high protein, omega-3s, vitamin D (in salmon), vitamin B12, and other nutrients that support fetal brain and neurological development. As long as the fish are low in mercury and eaten in recommended amounts, both salmon and trout are perfectly safe. Salmon may be slightly better due to its higher vitamin D content.

Which has more omega-3s, trout or salmon?

Salmon contains more omega-3 fatty acids than trout – 1.5 grams per 3 ounce serving compared to 0.9 grams in trout. However, both fish provide healthy amounts of omega-3 fats. Eating at least two servings per week of either fish will provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

Can trout and salmon be eaten raw for sushi?

Salmon is often used raw in sushi, but rainbow trout should always be cooked first. Raw salmon from reputable sources is typically safe to eat, but may increase the risk of parasitic infections if undercooked. Freezing salmon first can kill any parasites. However, trout is not considered safe for eating raw and should always be fully cooked to an internal temperature of 145 ̊F.


Both trout and salmon are extremely nutritious types of fish that can promote good health and help reduce disease risk when eaten regularly as part of a balanced diet.

Trout is lower in calories and fat than salmon, but higher in several vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, phosphorus, and potassium. Salmon offers more omega-3 fatty acids and unique nutrients like vitamin D and selenium.

Overall, both fish provide a high quality source of protein along with a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fats. While their specific nutrient profiles differ slightly, eating either fish frequently has proven health benefits.

To gain the most advantages, include both trout and salmon in your diet rather than choosing just one. Aim for two or more servings per week of these heart and brain healthy fish. Consider trout for its excellent vitamin profile and lean protein, and salmon for its abundant omega-3s and vitamin D.

As with any animal protein, practice safe handling, cook thoroughly, and limit intake if pregnant or have other specific health risks. But for most people, making trout and salmon regular additions to your meal plan is one effective way to improve overall nutrition and well-being.

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