Sockeye salmon facts and health benefits

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Sockeye salmon facts and health benefits

Sockeye Salmon Quick Facts
Name: Sockeye Salmon
Scientific Name: Oncorhynchus nerka
Origin Oncorhynchus nerka
Colors Bright red with a green head.
Shapes Range in size from 24 to 33 inches (60 to 84 centimeters) in length
Flesh colors Brilliant crimson red
Calories 111 Kcal./cup
Major nutrients Vitamin B-12 (166.25%)
Vitamin D (80.00%)
Lysine (54.99%)
Tryptophan (54.55%)
Isoleucine (54.37%)
Health benefits Cancer-Fighting Benefits, Eye Health, Joint Health, Brain Health, More stable arterial plaques, Better blood vessel function, Lower chance of blood clots, Lower blood pressure, Improve “good” cholesterol or HDL levels, Improve the pattern of lipids in the blood, Reduce inflammation, Reduce the chance of stroke, Reduce the chance of sudden death, Heart Health
Sockeye salmon scientifically known as Oncorhynchus Nerka, is the smallest most delicate of the Kenai Wild salmon family. These wild pacific salmon are the most sought after salmon in Alaska due to their unique flavor and bright red, extra firm texture. Sockeye is derived from the Halkomelem word suk-kegh, which means “red fish.” Halkomelem is normally spoken by the indigenous peoples along the lower reaches of the Fraser River of British Columbia and is one of many Coast Salish languages. Apart from sockeye salmon it is also known as red salmon, blueback salmon and kokanee salmon. It is also known as “red” salmon, mainly in Alaska because of the bright reddening (especially in males) of the body when adults return to spawn in freshwater.  Sockeye salmon are typically seen in south central Alaska in late May until early August. Apart from that there are also completely landlocked populations of the same species, which are known as kokanee or “silver trout.” Sockeye salmon is the third most common Pacific salmon species, after pink and chum salmon.

Like all other Pacific salmon, they are born in fresh water. However, sockeye require a lake nearby to rear in. Once hatched, juvenile sockeyes will stay in their natal habitat for up to three years, more than any other salmon. They then journey out to sea, where they grow rapidly, feeding mainly on zooplankton. They stay in the ocean for one to four years.  In freshwater, sockeye rarely eat, although some young will feed on plankton and insects. Ocean-dwelling sockeye feed on plankton, crustacean larvae, small fish, and sometimes squid. Freshwater sockeye feed on plankton, insects and organisms found on the bottom of the body of water.

Physical Appearance

Sockeye are the slimmest and most streamlined of the Pacific salmon. The sockeye salmon is occasionally called red or blueback salmon, due to its color. Sockeye have back and head that are metallic green blue silvery on the sides and white or silver on the belly. There can be some marking, but there are no large spots. Young sockeye have small dark oval parr makrs on their sides while living in the ocean. When they return to spawning grounds, they have a humped back and hooked jaws with sharp teeth. All sockeye turn red, either light or dark, on the back and sides; have an olive or pale green head, and a white lower jaw. This completely red body makes it different than chum salmon, and the lack of spots sets it apart from the rest of the Pacific salmon. Sockeye are normally 60 to 84 cm (2 ft. 0 in–2 ft. 9 in) long and weigh from 2.3 to 7 kg (5.1–15.4 lb.).Two distinctive features are their long, serrated gill rakers that range from 30 to 40 in number, and their lack of a spot on their tail or back.


The sockeye salmon is native to the northern Pacific Ocean. It is found from Hokkaido, Japan to the Anadyr River in Russia; from the Sacramento River in California, to Point Hope Alaska. Freshwater sockeye exist in Japan, Russia, Alaska and a few western Canadian provinces, and 10 U.S. states.

Nutritional Value

Apart from their wonderful taste, sockeye salmon is a good source of nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Consuming 85 gram of sockeye salmon offers 3.99 µg of Vitamin B-12, 12 µg of Vitamin D, 0.621 mg of Vitamin B6, 25.3 µg of Selenium, 7.231 mg of Vitamin B3, 18.91 g of Protein, 218 mg of Phosphorus, 0.909 mg of Vitamin B5, 0.176 mg and Vitamin B2. Moreover many Amino acids  0.24 g of Tryptophan, 0.891 g of Threonine, 0.909 g of Isoleucine, 1.561 g of Leucine, 1.839 g of Lysine, 0.613 g of Methionine, 0.211 g of Cystine, 0.776 g of Phenylalanine and 0.862 g of Tyrosine are also found in 85 gram of sockeye salmon.

Health benefits of Sockeye salmon

It is well-known that eating fish frequently helps protect against developing heart disease and heart attack. The oils in fish are unique; they have omega 3s–fatty acids not found in any other foods. The omega 3s in fish improves heart function and makes other conditions that contribute to heart disease less dangerous. For these reasons, the American Heart Association wants everyone to consume fish at least twice a week—particularly fatty species like salmon, herring, black cod, mackerel, and sardines. For people who already have heart disease, the oils in fish may be especially important, as they may improve the condition. Here are some ways omega 3s from fish help our hearts:

1. Heart Health

Omega 3s prevents the formation of blood clots. This is important because most heart attacks result when blood clots get stuck together in the blood vessels leading to the heart. They may protect against sudden cardiac arrest, a major cause of death from heart disease. They lower very high levels of triglycerides, a type of fat in the blood which, when elevated, increases the risk of heart attacks.

Intake of fish rich in omega 3 fat (including salmon) is related with decreased risk of numerous cardiovascular problems, including: heart attack, stroke, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides in the blood. Intake of omega 3-containing fish is also associated with improved metabolic markers for cardiovascular disease.

2.  Reduce the chance of sudden death

Nearly half of all cardiac deaths occur suddenly, before a person can seek help. Omega 3s from fish helps to maintain stable heartbeats, making it more difficult for potentially fatal, rapid, uncontrolled rhythms to develop.

3. Reduce the chance of stroke

Blood clots that develop in the brain or are carried to the brain from elsewhere cause strokes and serious disability. People who eat fish frequently are less likely to develop strokes.

4. Reduce inflammation

As heart disease develops, blood vessels become mildly inflamed and this makes heart failure more likely. This inflammation is greatly reduced in people who regularly consume fatty fish or the omega 3s from fish.

5. Improve the pattern of lipids in the blood

Different types of lipids (fat-like substances) are carried in the blood. The omega 3s found in fish can dramatically lower the amount of blood fats (triglycerides) in blood and this decreases the chance of a heart attack. People with type 2 diabetes and certain types of heart disease can have very high levels of blood triglycerides. Eating fatty fish or the omega 3s found in fish is one of the best ways of lowering the amounts of these fats.

6. Improve “good” cholesterol or HDL levels

People who have higher levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol in their blood have a lower chance of heart failure. HDL helps remove cholesterol from the blood vessels where it can be harmful. Regularly eating fish or the omega 3s from them helps boost blood levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol.

7. Lower blood pressure

High blood pressure or hypertension increases the chance of heart disease and stroke, but can usually be well controlled by medicines. High blood pressure is sneaky because it can develop without a person knowing it. People who eat fish regularly steadily have slightly lower blood pressure than those who do not eat fish regularly. Achieving and keeping a healthy body weight is especially important for lowering blood pressure.

8. Lower chance of blood clots

We need some blood clotting to heal injuries, but if blood clots too readily, it can block a blood vessel in the heart or brain. When this happens it can be fatal. The omega 3s from fish reduces the tendency to form blood clots and improve blood flow. Omega 3s also makes red blood cells more flexible so that circulation through small blood vessels is improved.

9. Better blood vessel function

Our arteries do more than send blood around the body. Their cells are miniature chemical factories making substances that affect blood flow and the flexibility of the artery wall. With the omega 3s from fish, arteries are more elastic and less likely to promote the formation of blood clots. As a result, blood flow and blood pressure are improved.

10. More stable arterial plaques

One of the riskiest aspects of heart disease is the build-up of deposits or plaques in the blood vessels close to and in the heart. These plaques begin in childhood and show atherosclerosis. As the plaques grow larger they are more likely to break apart, starting a chain of events that can lead to heart failure. There is growing proof that the omega 3s from fish help make these plaques more stable and less likely to rupture.

11. Brain Health

Many researchers consider DHA to be the most important fat found in the human brain, and the unusual concentration of this omega 3 fatty acid in salmon helps explain the research-documented benefits of salmon and omega 3 fish intake for thinking and the decreased risk of certain brain-related problems that accompanies omega 3 fish consumption. There is also indication of decreased risk of cognitive decline in the elderly with regular omega 3 consumption.

12. Joint Health

Research on fish intake and joint protection has shown that EPA from fish like salmon can be converted by the body into three types of closely-related compounds that work to prevent unwanted inflammation.

13. Eye Health

Omega 3 intake and consumption of omega 3 fish has been related with decreased risk of two eye-related problems: macular degeneration and chronic dry eye. Improvement has been noted with 2-6 weekly servings of salmon.

14. Cancer-Fighting Benefits

Intake of fish rich in omega 3 fat is also related with decreased risk for several types of cancer. These cancer types include colorectal cancer, prostate cancer, and breast cancer. Some of the strongest findings for decreased cancer risk following regular intake of omega 3 fish involve the blood cell or lymph cell-related cancers including leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma. Similar to cardiovascular studies, cancer risk studies typically begin to show measurable benefits when omega 3 fish are consumed at least once per week.

How to Eat

  • Sockeye salmon can be grilled, baked, steamed, smoked or roasted.
  • It is also sometimes eaten raw as sushi or sashimi.
  • Poach your salmon on a bed of sliced lemon, fresh herbs, white wine and water, or grill it on a barbecue or indoor grill.

Other Facts

  • In the ocean, sockeye salmon are bluish back with silver sides. While spawning, they turn bright red with green heads.
  • Males and females both die within a few weeks after spawning.
  • During spawning periods males have humped back and hooked jaws filled with tiny, easily visible teeth.
  • Sockeye salmon meat gets its color from the orange krill they eat while in the ocean.
  • The name sockeye comes from a poor attempt to translate the word suk-kegh from British Columbia’s native Coast Salish language. Suk-kegh means red fish.
  • Sockeye are anadromous, and live both in fresh and salt water.
  • Female can produce between 2,000 and 4,500 eggs.
  • They are a muscular fish with large glistening scales.
  • The sockeye’s oily richness and firm flesh make it perfect for barbequing.
  • The world record weight of a sockeye is only 15.3 pounds—the size of a small Chinook!
  • Females create three to five separate nests and lay eggs in each of them to ensure the best chance of survival for at least some of her young.
  • Sockeyes are the third most abundant salmon species in the Pacific.

Sockeye Salmon Facts

Sockeye are commonly known as “red” salmon, especially in Alaska due to the bright reddening (especially in males) of the body when adults return to spawn in freshwater.  The average size is 6 – 9 pounds and they can measure up to 2.8 feet. Sockeye salmon are typically seen in south central Alaska in late May until early August. Sockeye is derived from the Halkomelem word suk-kegh, which means “red fish.” Halkomelem is spoken by the indigenous peoples along the lower reaches of the Fraser River of British Columbia and is one of many Coast Salish languages. One half pound of sockeye fillet has about 332 calories, 42 grams of protein, 2.9 grams of saturated fat, and 93 mg of sodium. Unlike farm-raised salmon, wild sockeye salmon are drug and antibiotic-free, have higher levels of beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids, as well as, lower levels of saturated fats. These fish have beneficial amounts of selenium, protein, niacin, Vitamin B12, phosphorus, magnesium, and Vitamin B6. It is also one of the few protein sources with alkaline verses acidic properties. Sockeye salmon is the third most common Pacific salmon species, after pink and chum salmon.

Name Sockeye salmon
Scientific Name Oncorhynchus nerka
Native Northern Pacific Ocean
Common Names Red salmon, blueback salmon, kokanee salmon
Name in Other Languages French: Saumon nerka
Japanese: Beni-zake, himemasu
Habitat Open ocean, Ocean or bay shallows, Estuaries, tidal flats & salt marshes, Rivers & streams, Lakes & ponds.
Growing Climate Born in fresh water. However, sockeye require a lake nearby to rear in.
Fish Size & Shape Range in size from 24 to 33 inches (60 to 84 centimeters) in length
Fish Color on Ocean

Fish Color on Breeding in rivers

Silver sides and blue backs
Bright red with a green head.
Flesh Color Brilliant crimson red
Weight Between 5 and 15 pounds (2.3 to 7 kilograms).
Flavor/Aroma Robust and distinct flavour
Predators Brown bears, seagulls, eagles, rainbow trout, grayling and other larger fish
Feed on Krill, shrimp, insects, amphipods, squid and other small sea animals
Lifespan 3 to 5 years
Freshwater sockeye spawn

sea-run sockeye Spawn

August through February

July and December

Health benefits
  • Cancer-Fighting Benefits
  • Eye Health
  • Joint Health
  • Brain Health
  • More stable arterial plaques
  • Better blood vessel function
  • Lower chance of blood clots
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Improve “good” cholesterol or HDL levels
  • Improve the pattern of lipids in the blood
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Reduce the chance of stroke
  • Reduce the chance of sudden death
  • Heart Health
Major Nutrition Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamine) 3.99 µg (166.25%)
Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol) 12 µg (80.00%)
Lysine 1.839 g (54.99%)
Tryptophan 0.24 g (54.55%)
Isoleucine 0.909 g (54.37%)
Threonine 0.891 g (50.63%)
Valine 1.044 g (49.43%)
Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) 0.621 mg (47.77%)
Selenium, Se 25.3 µg (46.00%)
Vitamin B3 (Niacin) 7.231 mg (45.19%)
Leucine 1.561 g (42.23%)
Histidine 0.507 g (41.15%)
Protein 18.91 g (37.82%)
Phosphorus, P 218 mg (31.14%)
Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) 0.909 mg (18.18%)
Choline 80.4 mg (14.62%)
Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) 0.176 mg (13.54%)
Total Fat (lipid) 3.99 g (11.40%)
Calories in 3 oz (85 g) 111 K cal






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