Is Salmon Red Meat? Definitions, Benefits & Risks

Salmon is a popular fish steak that is known for its rich nutrients and unique red or pinkish color. Because of its color, many people wonder if salmon is classified as red or white meat.

Salmon is white meat. Although salmon possesses a red color that is similar to other red meat, it is not red meat. It gets its color due to a pigment known as astaxanthin.

In this article, I will talk about salmon, why it is not considered red meat, if it is healthy for you, and if there is any risk associated with eating it.

What is a salmon?

Salmon is a common name given to fishes that are members of the Salmonidae family. Fishes that fall under this family include; trout, char, grayling, and whitefish, and are all distinguished by their red or pink skin.

Salmon is mostly found in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, weighing around 80 – 100 pounds. It is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, and it is also tasty, versatile, and widely available.

What is red meat?

According to The Culinary Art Institution, red meat is meat from a mammal that is usually red when raw. These animals include beef, pork, venison, lamb, boar, etc.

They get their unique red color because of the presence of a myoglobin substance. This substance is responsible for altering the color of their skin, and if this substance is not present, they are known as white meat animals.

Some animals under this white meat category include; chicken, rabbits, turkey, and other meats from fowl or birds.

Is salmon red meat?

No, salmon is not red meat.

According to the above definition of red meat, it is quite clear that salmon is not classified under the red meat family. This is mainly because the fish lacks myoglobin which is responsible for the red color of red meats.

So, why is salmon red?

The red color seen in salmon is due to the presence of astaxanthin in its body. Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that possesses a red color; it is also found in various fruits I bet you weren’t aware of.

For example, fruits like tomatoes, pepper, and carrot have astaxanthin present in them. Surprisingly, this compound is also present in the human body. However, humans do not possess enough to affect body color.

Salmon get this astaxanthin in their body by ingesting shrimp. Astaxanthin is the pigment in the shell of the shrimp. Over time, it accumulates in the salmon fish and they also become red.

But not all salmon possess this astaxanthin pigment, farm-raised salmon are mostly white.

However, the demand for white-colored salmon is lower than the demand for red-colored salmon. Because of this, most farmers tend to add astaxanthin to the salmon’s feed to achieve the red color.

Is salmon healthy?

Salmon is one of the healthiest meats you can incorporate into your diet. This popular and fatty meat is loaded with nutrients that may reduce the risk of certain health conditions.

Below are some of the health benefits of eating salmon:

1. High level of omega-3 acid

Salmon contains two types of omega-3 acids that are essential for your body as it is not capable of creating it. These two acids include; eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

The Center for Disease Control recommends that you get up to 10g of omega-3 acid daily. And according to the US Department of Agriculture, a 100-gram serving of salmon holds up to 2.3 grams of this acid.

Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) has been credited with various health benefit. Study shows that they help in decreasing inflammation and can also help lower blood pressure.

Also, they help reduce the risk of cancer and improve the function of the blood cells in your body. Additionally, it helps to improve arterial function, especially for those who smoke, are obese, or have high cholesterol levels.

2. Good source of protein

Salmon holds a similar amount of protein to beef, pork, or lamb. Protein is an essential nutrient your body must get because it plays many roles.

For example, protein helps you heal after injury, protects bone health, and maintains muscle mass. According to the US Department of Agriculture, a 100-gram serving of salmon hold around 23g of protein.

3. Holds several vitamins

Vitamins like vitamin B12, niacin, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, thiamine, and folic acid are found in salmon. These vitamins are involved in various essential processes in your body.

These processes include; turning the food you eat into energy and maintaining proper and optimal brain functioning. Also, they are responsible for creating and repairing DNA and reducing chronic inflammation.

4. Contains astaxanthin

Astaxanthin is known to have various positive health effects. This is because it is part of the antioxidant family known for skin repair and maintenance.

Additionally, astaxanthin is known to lower the risk of heart disease. This is done by reducing the oxidation of bad cholesterol and increasing the level of good cholesterol.

Furthermore, the study shows that astaxanthin reduces inflammation and decreases oxidation stress.

Are there any health risks of consuming salmon?

Ever heard the saying, too much of anything is bad? This also applies to any food taken in excess. The following are some of the health risks of consuming salmon in excess.

1. Contains moderate levels of mercury and pollutant

These pollutants and mercury are found in the natural environment or habitat of the salmon. Excess intake of salmon causes this mercury and pollutants to build up in your system.

Consume salmon no more than four times a week, and you’ll be fine. However, if you are pregnant or have a child under the age of 6 years, it is best to limit intake, try limiting it to once or twice a week.

2. Weight gain

Excess intake of any food would do your waistline no good. It is best to incorporate salmon into other dishes in small quantities in other to reduce your intake.

How can you incorporate salmon into other dishes?

Salmon can easily replace some protein choices in your dish. Below are some tasty tips to incorporate salmon into your diet.

  • Add salmon to your pasta
  • Cut salmon into smaller pieces and add to your salad
  • Substitute chicken salad for salmon salad
  • Add salmon to your patties or burger
  • Try having grilled salmon with avocado sauce
  • Use salmon for vegetable egg casseroles.


Is red meat harder to digest than white meat?

Yes, it is. Red meat contains natural chemical toxins and saturated fat that make it harder for you to digest.

Is turkey red meat?

No, it is not. According to the US Department of Agriculture, turkey is categorized as white meat.

Can you eat salmon every day?

Eating salmon every day is not healthy unless it is consumed in small quantities.

What are the various types of salmon?

There are two types of salmon, wild-caught salmon, and farmed-raised salmon.

Which fish is considered red meat?

There is no fish considered red meat. Although there are a few that have red color, they are all termed as white meat because they lack myoglobin.


No, it is not. Although salmon has a red color like most red meat, it is not considered one. The color is a result of astaxanthin which it takes in when it feeds on shrimps.

Salmon is a very delicious and healthy dish for your diet. However, it would be best if you watched your portion sizes or tried incorporating them into other dishes.

You can follow the tips mentioned in this article to incorporate them into your diet.

Thanks for reading.

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