When you are trying to improve your cholesterol levels, salmon can be a useful food to incorporate into your diet. It is typically low in saturated fat and cholesterol, which is a goal for most people trying to improve their cholesterol levels. Additionally, salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which can increase healthy cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol itself isn’t bad. But your body normally produces all of the cholesterol it needs. There are two types of cholesterol: high-density lipoprotein (HDL), which you may know of as “good” cholesterol, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL), which is also called “bad” cholesterol. When the LDL levels in your blood are too high, they can create a plaque between the layers of the walls in your arteries. That makes it more challenging for your heart to circulate blood. When plaque breaks open, it causes blood clots. When a clot blocks an artery that feeds the brain, it can cause a stroke; if it blocks an artery that goes to your heart, it can cause a heart attack.

HDL can help remove LDL from the bloodstream. Omega-3s will not lower LDL levels. (Several other foods such as oatmeal can help in that department.) But eating foods that are high in omega-3s can improve your cholesterol levels because they work to raise your HDL and improve the ratio between the two.

Why Should I Like Salmon?

Salmon provides an excellent source of high-quality protein, vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, selenium, and vitamin B-12. A 100-gram serving of Atlantic salmon — about the size of a deck of cards — has 208 calories, 20 grams of protein, 55 mg of cholesterol, 3 grams of saturated fat, and over 1,500 mg (1.5 grams) of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Most notably, salmon is known for its high content of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fats are essential fatty acids that are found naturally in salmon, the most beneficial types being eicosapentanoic acid (EPA) and docosahexanoic acid (DHA). If you take an omega-3 supplement, you typically find EPA and DHA noted on the label.

Other Omegas
Other oily fish that contain omega-3s include mackerel, sardines, herring, and fresh tuna. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends eating these fish at least twice a week.

The Power of Omega-3s

Research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids can lower a person’s risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats). Additionally, omega-3 fatty acids can reduce triglyceride levels, slow the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque, and lower your blood pressure, the American Heart Association (AHA) reports. They can also help with chronic diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and high blood pressure.

The Mayo Clinic notes that women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, along with young children, should limit the amount of fish they eat because they're most susceptible to the potential effects of toxins in fish. However, salmon is not known to have the high levels of mercury you find in other types of fish.

Cooking with Salmon
Whether you bake or broil salmon, this versatile fish can be prepared in a variety of healthy ways!

Teriyaki Salmon with Zucchini

Grab some low-sodium teriyaki sauce to go with this delicious salmon and zucchini pairing.

Orange Salmon with Apricot Horseradish Salsa

It feels like summer all year round when you try this recipe for orange-infused salmon and fruity salsa.

Garlic, Honey, and Ginger-Glazed Salmon

Spice up your salmon and pair it with broccoli, another agent of good health, with this recipe.

Caramelized Salmon

Enticingly simple and spectacularly yummy, this recipe pairs well with a fresh green salad.

Roasted Miso-Glazed Salmon

Salmon tastes just as delicious when you broil it! This is another recipe that goes nicely with some boiled or sautéed veggies.