Halibut and salmon are two popular and healthy varieties of fish. Both salmon and halibut are saltwater fish. However, the similarities stop there. If you have ever wondered whether salmon or halibut is different, you have come to the right place.
Aside from size, color, texture, and taste, the primary difference between halibut and salmon is the nutritional facts. There is a 56 percent caloric difference between the two fish species. Salmon contains more omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
If you are interested in learning which fish is best for your health, read on! This article will cover some differences and nutritional facts that will help you determine which one you need. In addition, the mercury levels of each one is examined.
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Halibut vs Salmon: The Basics
You can find halibut in the saltwater areas of Alaska, down to the saltwater areas in California. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, halibut primarily live in the Central Gulf of Alaska near Kodiak Island. Deep-sea fishing for halibut is a popular sport in Alaska 1.
While one could hold a salmon in one hand, halibut can grow to be up to eight feet long and weigh up to 200 or even 400 pounds. Halibut is one of the largest saltwater flatfish out there 2.
Salmon is renowned for being a part of many diets, whether vegetarian or keto. Salmon are freshwater fish, but actually, they know the best of both worlds. Salmon are typically born in freshwater rivers or streams.
When they are old enough, salmon migrate to the ocean. However, they come back to the river during spawning seasons. This cycle repeats every year at least once 3.
Salmon is very popular, especially among those who enjoy the luxury of fine and healthy foods. One main difference between halibut and salmon is their color and flavor.
Halibut vs Salmon: Nutritional Values
|Fat||7.2 g||1.5 g|
|Protein||23 g||21 g|
|Omega-3||1.95 g||0.25 g|
|B-6||0.9 mg||0.6 mg|
|B-12||3.6 mcg||1.2 mcg|
|Vitamin A||13.6 mcg||22.6 mcg|
|Niacin||8.9 mg||7.3 mg|
|Folate||28.3 mcg||13.6 mcg|
|Potassium||555 mg||493 mg|
|Magnesium||32 mg||26 mg|
|Phosphorus||226 mg||267 mg|
|Calcium||13.6 mg||7.9 mg|
|Zinc||0.7 mg||0.4 mg|
|Selenium||41.4 mcg||51.7 mcg|
After examining the nutritional table above, it’s easy to see both fish contain many vitamins and minerals. Therefore, which is healthier, halibut or salmon?
Salmon is healthier than halibut because it contains almost 8 times more heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon also contains a higher number of vitamins and minerals and is lower in mercury than halibut.
Although salmon may have the edge, halibut is no slouch. It’s also a source of fatty acids and omega 3s, an excellent way to get your vitamins in.
A good cut of halibut also contains folic acids, vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 4. These fatty acids are one of the best things you can do to ensure your heart stays healthy.
In addition to being a great source of healthy vitamins, halibut can also provide you with a healthy dose of magnesium. Adding magnesium to your diet could be instrumental in improving your sleep quality. More so, it will help keep your blood pressure levels balanced and stable.
Additionally, eating halibut will help you maintain cellular health, thanks to all the vitamin B12 it contains. The B vitamins and pyridoxine in halibut will also improve digestion and immunity while controlling cholesterol levels.
Like halibut, salmon has plenty of health benefits and probably tops the list for one of the best fish to eat. First and foremost, salmon contains high amounts of heart-healthy, fatty omega 3s 5. These fatty acids will help keep your cholesterol levels under control while strengthening your arteries.
These things can, in turn, help prevent you from suffering things like a stroke, heart attack, hypertension, and several other heart-related issues 6.
Salmon is also very high in protein, but unlike many red types of meat, it does not contain potentially cancerous compounds. The increased protein levels will help improve your digestive system’s performance, as well as provide you with a fair amount of healthy cholesterol.
As mentioned before, salmon contains vitamins and minerals like iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium and several others.
Believe it or not, the fatty omega 3s in salmon are very beneficial for your skin. Eating salmon could help you to achieve a healthy glow on your skin. Additionally, salmon provides metabolic nutrients that strengthen your hair and nails.
It contains dozens of antioxidants, astaxanthin among the most prominent ones. The antioxidants keep the number of free radicals in your body under control and prevent them from damaging your skin.
I compared the nutrition between these two popular salmons. Find out which one was more nutritious in my article, Atlantic vs Pacific Salmon: What’s The Difference?
Halibut vs Salmon: Taste and Texture
Whether fried or sauteed, halibut is a delicious meal. Fishermen and women who love to fish off the Gulf of Alaska predominantly choose to catch halibut. Halibut is a very lean fish and has a firm texture. The meat is sweet and will make a good meal for anyone anywhere.
Salmon has a very tender, buttery texture while halibut is, as mentioned before, firm and lean. Salmon is also flavorful and filling fish, so a smaller portion usually goes a long way.
Halibut and Salmon Substitutions
Sometimes you won’t have the exact fish for a recipe, or the seafood section of the supermarket doesn’t have what you need. Therefore, can you substitute halibut for salmon?
Although halibut and salmon have different textures and tastes, they can substitute for each other. Halibut can be cooked the same as salmon like searing, poached or slow-roasted.
What is a good substitute for salmon? Good substitutes for salmon include arctic char, bluefish, mackerel, Mahi mahi, trout and striped bass.
What is a good substitute for halibut? Good substitutions for halibut include rainbow trout, cod, flounder and White Sea bass.
When substituting one fish for the other always stick to the following:
- Same size and weight.
- Stick with similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
- Stick with skinless or skin when the recipe calls for one.
- Texture is more important for certain cooking methods. Like using a firmer texture when grilling 7.
Halibut and Salmon Mercury Levels
The FDA and EPA have issued advice regarding consuming fish and mercury levels 8. They developed an easy to read chart about which fish has higher mercury levels than others. In addition, they list how many times each fish should be consumed each week based on their mercury levels.
This is especially important for pregnant women or women breastfeeding. Luckily many fish are healthy and low in mercury. How about halibut and salmon?
Is halibut high in mercury? Halibut has safe levels of mercury and is listed under the FDA’s good choices of fish to eat. The FDA recommends eating one serving of halibut a week.
Is salmon high in mercury? Salmon is lower in mercury and listed under the FDA’s best choices for fish to eat. The FDA recommends salmon is safe to eat two to three servings a week.
The only potential issue with consuming excessive halibut is the amount of mercury in the meat (several varieties of fish contain mercury). Few people eat halibut enough to be at risk of a mercury “overdose,” but too much of it could cause some severe problems like inflammation or toxicity 9.
The risk of getting mercury poisoning is low. Pay attention to how frequently you eat halibut to avoid “overdosing.” The generally advised consumption amount for halibut is once a week for the best results. Just be aware of how much you eat, and you will not have a problem.
Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.
The Cost of Halibut and Salmon
The cost of either halibut or salmon will differ depending on the location, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. Which is more expensive, halibut or salmon?
Halibut is more expensive than salmon. The average cost for salmon is $12.49 per pound while the average cost for halibut is $25.99 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.
I checked my local Shoprite Supermarket and other markets for the current prices of each.
- Fresh, farm raised halibut
- $21.99 per pound.
- Fresh, wild caught halibut
- $29.99 per pound
- Fresh, farm raised Atlantic salmon
- $9.99 per pound
- Fresh, wild caught Coho salmon
- $14.99 per pound
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Which Is Better?
Finally, it is time to answer the question of which fish is better for you, halibut or salmon?
Salmon is better because it contains more healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B6, B12, niacin, folate, potassium, magnesium and calcium than halibut. In addition, salmon contains less mercury then halibut with the FDA recommending 2-3 servings a week compared to only 1 serving for halibut.
It can be somewhat difficult to compare these two fish because they have separate, distinct qualities. However, as we have seen, the health benefits of eating salmon do seem to have a farther reach than the benefits of eating halibut. Both salmon and halibut contain mercury, but salmon’s mercury levels are significantly lower.
Ultimately, determining whether salmon or halibut is the better fish to eat will vary with personal taste preferences. Remember, salmon has a buttery texture while halibut is more firm. If your first taste of halibut or salmon does not meet your expectations, try cooking it a new way!
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- NOAA: Pacific Halibut
- University of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Halibut
- The University Of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Salmon
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, Atlantic and Pacific, halibut
- Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, wild, Atlantic, salmon
- National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease
- Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions
- FDA: Advice about Eating Fish
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines