Ask a Dietitian

Ask a Dietitian

"Diana, just a quick heads up to let you know we are still using your cookbook and the guys will often be heard saying what would Diana say about this or that....really good feed back... I made your potato salad and the oriental coleslaw on Sat. for a family luncheon and had rave reviews so thanks again."

Maeghan Henke
BC Hydro


July 1st, 2014

Celebrate with salmon. This summer enjoy fresh local wild salmon and reap the health benefits.

Health Benefits:

Salmon is an excellent source of high quality protein and vitamins B6, B12, niacin and D. One 2.5 oz serving of salmon provides almost 500 IU vitamin D. Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and bone health and has been shown to help reduce the risk of cancer. A deficiency of vitamin D has been shown to increased risk for heart disease and diabetes. Salmon are naturally low in saturated fats and an excellent source of omega 3 fats, a polyunsaturated fat which helps lower triglycerides, reduce platelet aggregation (stickiness of blood), and inflammation. Eating fish two to three times a week may help reduce your risk for heart attack, stroke, Alzheimer’s, depression and some inflammatory diseases. 75g or 2.5oz of cooked salmon is considered one meat and alternative serving from Canada’s Food Guide and provides 162 calories, 8g of fat and 20g of protein.


In BC, we have five main types of salmon: Chinook, Coho, Chum, Sockeye and Pink salmon. Chinook, the largest, and Sockeye are most popular for eating, due to the full flavour and deep colouring. Coho is also quite full-flavoured with red colouring, and is re-emerging due to rebuilding programs after a frightening population decrease. Chum and Pink salmon have milder, delicate flavours and lighter pink colouring. Pink salmon is the most abundant, and 75% of caught Pink salmon are used for canning. Sockeye, while less abundant, comprises 2/3 of the total value of salmon harvesting.

Steelhead trout and rainbow trout are the same species of fish. Steelhead trout have recently been reclassified as the salmon genus oncohynchus. Steelhead trout live in both fresh and salt water, they return to their birthplace to spawn but unlike salmon, they don’t die after spawning. Most steelhead trout sold commercially is farmed in a lake.

Buying and Storing:

When purchasing a fresh whole salmon it should be buried in ice, whereas steaks and fillets can be displayed on top of the ice. Fish should smell fresh not fishy. Pre-packaged fish locks in the smell and may have more odour than fish bought from the display case and wrapped in paper. When buying whole fish, look for clear, bright bulging not sunken eyes, clean red or pink gills, and bright, firm, moist skin. Wild salmon is in season in the summer so you can easily find it fresh, however in the winter you will likely only find previously frozen wild salmon or fresh farmed salmon. Alternatively you can choose frozen or canned salmon.

At home, rinse the fish, wrap in paper towel and store in a plastic bag on the bottom shelf of the fridge or face down in a tray of ice. The average refrigerator temperature is not quite cold enough for proper storage of fish. Use fish within a day or two of purchasing. Frozen fish can last for two months in the refrigerator freezer. Thaw fish in the fridge or in cold water in the sink.

Cooking and eating:

Prepare your fish by rinsing and patting it dry. Proceed directly to adding your prepared flavours and cooking immediately. Never leave fish at room temperature. If it requires marinating, do so in the fridge.

When cooking salmon in the oven, cook it at 450°F for 10 minutes per 1 inch thickness, and turn it over halfway through if it is a steak. Add an extra five minutes for marinated or foil wrapped fish. Simply add lemon and enjoy the rich flavour of the fish or spice it up with ginger, cumin and mint. Asian flavours such as teriyaki or soy sauce, garlic, ginger, lemon and green onion are delicious additions.

Salmon is so versatile, it can be grilled, baked, sautéed, steamed or braised. You can top it with a pineapple or mango salsa, toss it in a pasta salad, use it as a pizza topping with fennel or add it to your favourite Thai curry. Leftovers are delicious the next day in a wrap or sandwich or baked into a salmon frittata.