American Oceans

The Difference Between Coho Salmon and Atlantic Salmon

Coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are two of the most popular types of salmon in the world. While they share many similarities, there are also some key differences between them. One of the main differences is their habitat.

an atlantic salmon swimming underwater

Coho salmon are primarily found in the Pacific Ocean, while Atlantic salmon are found in the Atlantic Ocean.

Despite these differences, both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are highly valued for their taste and nutritional value.

They are both rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and other essential nutrients.

Whether you prefer the darker, more flavorful meat of the coho salmon or the milder taste of the Atlantic salmon, both types of fish are a healthy and delicious choice for any meal.

Atlantic Salmon vs Coho Salmon

a wild atlantic salmon leaping out of the water

Coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are two of the most popular types of salmon in the world. While they share some similarities, they also have several differences that set them apart.

Appearance

Coho salmon have a bluish-green back and silver sides with black spots. They have a slightly hooked nose and a tail with a few spots.

Atlantic salmon, on the other hand, have a silver body with black spots above the lateral line and a few spots below. They have a more pronounced hooked nose and a forked tail.

Taste and Texture

Coho salmon has a milder flavor and softer texture than Atlantic salmon. Atlantic salmon has a richer, buttery flavor and firmer texture.

Coho salmon is often preferred by those who prefer a more delicate flavor, while Atlantic salmon is favored by those who enjoy a stronger taste.

Nutritional Value

Both types of salmon are an excellent source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. However, Atlantic salmon has higher levels of iron than coho salmon.

Wild salmon is generally considered to be more nutritious than farmed salmon.

Farming

Atlantic salmon is the most commonly farmed type of salmon in the world, while coho salmon is less commonly farmed.

Farmed salmon is often criticized for its impact on the environment and the use of antibiotics and other chemicals.

Wild-Caught

Both Atlantic and coho salmon can be caught in the wild. Wild salmon is generally considered to be more flavorful and nutritious than farmed salmon.

Chinook, sockeye, pink, and chum are other types of wild salmon that are popular for their unique flavors and textures.

Coho Salmon

person holding a coho salmon

Coho salmon, also known as silver salmon, is a type of Pacific salmon that is native to North America’s Pacific Ocean.

They are also found in the waters of Alaska, where they are a vital part of the state’s economy and culture. Coho salmon is one of the five species of Pacific salmon, along with chinook, chum, pink, and sockeye salmon.

Coho salmon is a medium-sized salmon, with an average weight of 8-12 pounds. They have a distinctive silver color when they are in the ocean, which turns to a reddish-brown color when they return to freshwater to spawn.

Coho salmon is an anadromous fish, which means that they are born in freshwater, spend most of their life in the ocean, and return to freshwater to spawn.

Coho salmon is widely distributed in the Pacific Ocean, and their range extends from northern California to Alaska.

They are also found in Russia and Japan, where they are known as “silver salmon.” Coho salmon is an important commercial and sport fish, and they are highly prized for their firm, flavorful flesh.

Compared to Atlantic salmon, which is the other major species of salmon, coho salmon has a milder flavor and a softer texture.

They also have a lower fat content than Atlantic salmon, which makes them a healthier choice. Coho salmon is also more sustainable than Atlantic salmon, as they are primarily wild-caught, whereas Atlantic salmon is mainly farmed.

Atlantic Salmon

atlantic salmon swimming underwater

Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is a species of fish that is native to the Atlantic Ocean and its tributaries. They are anadromous, which means they are born in freshwater, spend most of their lives in saltwater, and return to freshwater to spawn.

Atlantic salmon are highly valued for their meat and are popular in many cuisines around the world. They are commercially farmed in many countries, including Canada, Norway, and the United States. In fact, farmed Atlantic salmon is one of the most commonly consumed fish in the United States.

In the wild, Atlantic salmon can be found in many rivers and streams in the northeastern United States and eastern Canada. They are also found in Europe, from Portugal to Russia, and in Iceland and Greenland.

Atlantic salmon have a distinctive appearance, with silver sides and a blue-green back. They can grow to be quite large, with some individuals reaching up to 50 pounds in weight. They are known for their strength and fighting ability, making them a popular sport fish.

Despite their popularity, Atlantic salmon populations have declined in recent years due to overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution. Conservation efforts are underway to protect and restore these important fish populations.

Comparative Nutrition Profile

a close up of a massive salmon underwater

When it comes to comparing the nutrition profile of coho salmon and Atlantic salmon, there are some notable differences. Here is a breakdown of some of the key nutritional components:

  • Protein: Both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are excellent sources of protein, with a 3-ounce serving of cooked salmon providing around 22-23 grams of protein.

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for heart health and brain function. However, coho salmon tends to have slightly higher levels of omega-3s than Atlantic salmon.

  • Ash: Ash refers to the mineral content of a food, and both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are good sources of minerals like calcium, iron, and magnesium.

  • Fat Content: Coho salmon tends to be leaner than Atlantic salmon, with a 3-ounce serving of cooked coho salmon containing around 6 grams of fat, compared to 10 grams of fat in the same serving of Atlantic salmon.

  • Saturated Fat: Coho salmon also tends to be lower in saturated fat than Atlantic salmon, with a 3-ounce serving of cooked coho salmon containing around 1 gram of saturated fat, compared to 2 grams of saturated fat in the same serving of Atlantic salmon.

  • Calories: Coho salmon is also slightly lower in calories than Atlantic salmon, with a 3-ounce serving of cooked coho salmon containing around 140 calories, compared to 175 calories in the same serving of Atlantic salmon.

  • Vitamins and Minerals: Both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are good sources of vitamins and minerals like vitamin B12, vitamin C, and potassium.

Health Benefits and Risks

a silver salmon jumping out of the water

Coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are both excellent sources of protein and omega-3 fatty acids, which provide numerous health benefits.

However, there are some differences in their nutritional profiles that may affect their health benefits and risks.

Heart Health

Both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are heart-healthy foods due to their high levels of omega-3 fatty acids.

These essential fatty acids can help reduce inflammation and lower triglyceride levels, which may lower the risk of heart disease.

Coho salmon is slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids than Atlantic salmon, but both types of salmon are excellent choices for heart health.

Brain Health

Omega-3 fatty acids are also important for brain health, and both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon are good sources of these essential fats.

Studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and improve brain function.

Coho salmon is slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids than Atlantic salmon, but both types of salmon can help support brain health.

Cancer Risk

There is some evidence to suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, including breast, prostate, and colorectal cancer.

Coho salmon is slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids than Atlantic salmon, but both types of salmon can provide some protection against cancer.

Anti-Inflammatory Fats

Omega-3 fatty acids are also known for their anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation throughout the body.

This may help reduce the risk of chronic diseases such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart disease.

Coho salmon is slightly higher in omega-3 fatty acids than Atlantic salmon, but both types of salmon can provide some anti-inflammatory benefits.

Health Risks

While coho salmon and Atlantic salmon both provide numerous health benefits, there are also some potential health risks associated with consuming these types of fish. One concern is the risk of exposure to environmental contaminants such as PCBs and mercury, which can accumulate in the flesh of fish.

However, the risks of consuming farmed salmon are generally considered to be low, and the benefits of consuming these fish may outweigh the risks for most people.

Environmental Impact and Sustainability

a coho salmon leaping from the water

Coho salmon and Atlantic salmon have different environmental impacts and sustainability concerns depending on how they are sourced.

Wild-caught salmon populations are under threat from overfishing, habitat destruction, and climate change, which can lead to declining stocks and ecological imbalances. Seafood Watch and the Environmental Defense Fund recommend avoiding wild-caught Atlantic salmon due to overfishing concerns.

Aquaculture, or fish farming, is one solution to the problem of declining wild salmon populations.

However, salmon farms can also have negative environmental impacts. Fish farms can pollute the surrounding waters with feces, uneaten feed, and chemicals used to control parasites and diseases.

Salmon farms can also contribute to the spread of diseases and parasites that can infect wild salmon populations. In addition, farmed salmon can contain pollutants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which can harm human health.

To address these concerns, some salmon farms are adopting more sustainable practices. For example, some farms are using closed containment systems that prevent waste and pollutants from entering the surrounding waters.

Other farms are using alternative feeds that reduce the amount of wild fish used in salmon feed.

Contaminants and Safety Concerns

an atlantic red salmon leaping upstream

When it comes to contaminants and safety concerns, both coho salmon and Atlantic salmon have been subject to scrutiny. Contaminants such as polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, and other toxins have been found in both wild and farmed salmon.

PCBs are a group of man-made chemicals that were used in various industrial applications until they were banned in the 1970s.

However, they still persist in the environment and can accumulate in the fatty tissue of fish. A study found that farmed Atlantic salmon had higher levels of PCBs than wild coho salmon.

Mercury is another contaminant that can be found in both wild and farmed salmon. High levels of mercury can be harmful to humans, especially pregnant women and children.

The FDA recommends that these groups limit their consumption of certain types of fish, including salmon, due to their mercury content.

In addition to contaminants, antibiotics have also been a concern in farmed salmon. Antibiotics are used in aquaculture to prevent and treat diseases, but overuse can lead to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The FDA has set limits on the amount of antibiotics that can be used in farmed salmon, but concerns remain about the potential impact on human health.

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