Keta vs Sockeye Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Keta and sockeye salmon are different fish species, but many people don’t recognize all of the differences at first glance. As a Certified Health Coach I often get asked about fish, particularly salmon. So, what are the differences between keta salmon and sockeye salmon?

Sockeye salmon are a silvery blue-green color while keta are red and green. Sockeye has less cholesterol and more protein than keta salmon. While sockeye salmon contains more sodium than keta salmon, neither contain carbs. A serving of keta and sockeye salmon has similar amounts of fat and calories.

This article will take a closer loom at their differences including a side-by-side nutrient comparison. In addition, I’ll examine their tastes, textures, mercury levels, prices and if one can substitute for the other.

I’ve purchased, researched and consumed both salmon prior to, during and sometimes after writing this article.

Keta Salmon

Keta salmon is more commonly known as chum salmon or dog salmon. It belongs to the species of pacific salmon, and its scientific name is Oncorhynchus keta. They live for about 3 to 5 years and can grow to be up to 3.6 feet long.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), they typically weigh 8 to 15 pounds, although they can weigh up to 35 pounds 1.

They are silver and blue-green, although all of their colors tend to shift and blend. Additionally, some fish have darker spots while others do not.

However, as they move from saltwater to freshwater, their colors change from silvery green blue to dark olive. You’ll find them living in salt water, but they spawn in freshwater. Each year some travel into freshwater areas to reproduce.

Keta salmon fish
Keta salmon fish

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye salmon is a species of pacific salmon typically living for 3 to 7 years. They are otherwise known as the red salmon or the blueback salmon. Its official scientific name is Oncorhynchus nerka.

They can grow to be up to almost 3 feet in length and weighs up to 15 pounds. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game 2, they are smaller than many other salmon species.

They typically grow to be 18 to 31 inches long while weighing 4 to 15 pounds.

Sockeye salmon fish
Sockeye salmon fish

Nutrient Comparison

Nutrient Keta Salmon, raw (4 Ounces) Sockeye Salmon, raw (4 Ounces)
Calories 136 149
Fat 4.3 g  5.3 g
Protein 23 g  25 g
Omega-3 0.80 g  0.96 g
B-6 0.45 mg  0.82 mg
B-12 3.4 mcg  5.32 mcg
Thiamin 0.09 mg 0.15 mg
Riboflavin 0.20 mg 0.23 mg
B5 0.85 mg 1.21 mg
Iron 0.62 mg 0.49 mg
Vitamin A 34.02 mcg  55.57 mcg
Niacin 7.93 mg  9.64 mg
Folate 4.54 mcg  6.80 mcg
Potassium 486 mg  416 mg
Magnesium 25 mg  34 mg
Phosphorus 320 mg  291 mg
Calcium 12.47 mg  10.21 mg
Zinc 0.53 mg 0.52 mg
Selenium 41.4 mcg  33.8 mcg

Sources 3 4

Examining the table above it’s easy to see both fish are full of nutrients. To compare the two, let’s answer which one is better?

Sockeye salmon is better than keta due to its higher number of omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. They contain a larger percentage of B6, B12, thiamin, riboflavin, B5, niacin, folate and magnesium. They also contain more protein, vitamin A and less cholesterol than keta.

Although keta is no slouch and provides many nutrients. They contain more iron, potassium, phosphorus and calcium. Although it doesn’t have more omega-3s, it still provides a good number.

Depending on the availability at the supermarket or fish market, I always choose to purchase sockeye salmon over most other types.

Check out how cod compared in my article here, Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?

Comparison of the nutrients contained in keta salmon and sockeye salmon
Keta and sockeye nutrient comparison

Health Benefits

The nutrients contained in fresh fish benefit the body in many ways, especially omega-3 fatty acids. The nutrients and how they benefit the body is discussed below.

Sockeye Salmon Benefits

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Of all the nutrients, omega-3 fatty acids may be the most important. Both fish contain a good amount, but sockeye contains a little more. Omega-3 fatty acids are healthy in many ways, especially for the heart.

They have been determined in scientific studies to help with the following:

  • Regulating heart rhythms.
  • Lowering inflammation.
  • Reducing triglycerides.
  • Maintain healthy blood pressure.
  • Lowering bad cholesterol.
  • Increasing good cholesterol.
  • Keeping the arteries healthy and functioning properly.

Since they are so beneficial, omega-3s are sold as a supplement. They are extracted from the flesh of fatty fish like salmon, cod livers, herring, anchovies, sardines and tuna. The best way to obtain omega-3 is consuming fresh fish, low in mercury twice per week.

Two of the fatty acids, DHA and EPA, have been shown in studies to lower blood pressure and improve the function of blood vessels 5.

Other studies have shown them to reduce joint stiffness and pain in people with arthritis. Omega-3 fatty acids have also increased the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

B Vitamins

The B vitamins provided by both fish include the following:

  1. B1 (thiamin)
  2. B2 (riboflavin)
  3. B3 (niacin)
  4. B5
  5. B6
  6. B9 (folate)
  7. B12

Sockeye contains more of all of them. B vitamins help support the following:

  • Energy levels.
  • Cardiovascular disease.
  • Brain function.
  • Digestion.
  • Nerve function.
  • Red blood cells.

Magnesium

Magnesium helps keep blood pressure levels stable and balanced. A recent study researched previous studies and concluded magnesium supplementation decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure 6.

Magnesium helps control the following:

  • Blood sugar
  • Blood pressure
  • Muscle
  • Insomnia
  • Nerve function

One reason many people supplement with magnesium in the evening is because it helps calm the whole-body including blood vessels.

In the heart and muscles, magnesium competes with calcium to help the muscles relax after contracting. When the body is low in magnesium, calcium can over stimulate the heart muscle’s cells causing a rapid or irregular heartbeat 7.

The following video explains the benefits of salmon and other fish.

Keta Salmon Benefits

Potassium

Keta provides 486 mg of potassium per four ounces. It helps the body get rid of excess sodium reducing fluid build-up. These helps keep systolic and diastolic blood pressure lower 8.

The more potassium, the more sodium your body will lose. Consuming too much sodium or not enough potassium throws off the delicate balance the kidneys need to remove the excess water 9.

According to Harvard Health, a number of studies have shown a connection between high blood pressure and low potassium levels 10.

Calcium

Keta provides 12.47 grams per four ounces. Calcium is important for the heart and blood pressure. Harvard Health reports calcium helps maintain blood pressure by helping in the controlling of the relaxing and tightening of blood vessels 11.

Calcium also helps the following:

  • Helps muscles function properly.
  • Improve nerve function.
  • Build and maintain strong bones.

Phosphorus

Keta salmon provides 320 mg of phosphorus per four ounces. Phosphorus has been shown in scientific studies to help with the following:

  • Help the kidneys remove waste.
  • Help the body manage and store energy.
  • Promote healthy nerve conduction.
  • Promote teeth and bone strength.
  • Muscle contraction.
  • Muscle recovery.
Preparing fillets of sockeye salmon
Preparing fillets of sockeye salmon

Mercury Levels

The FDA has issued warnings regarding mercury levels in fish. They also provide recommendations about how often to consume them 12. This is especially important for pregnant women and young, developing children.

The FDA and EPA have established a list of fish that are best and good choices based on their mercury levels. They also list fish which should be avoided. Therefore, let’s examine which of the two fish has more mercury.

Keta and sockeye salmon have similar levels of mercury. Both fish are listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to consume regarding their mercury levels. They recommend eating no more than two to three servings a week.

When fish eat other fish in the ocean, more mercury builds up in their bodies over time. Bigger fish have more mercury in them than other smaller fish. Both fish grow to about the same size which is one reason they’ll contain similar mercury levels.

Mercury is especially harmful to children to consume because they are in crucial stages of development both physically and mentally.

Always check with a physician prior to eating new foods or changing your dietary habits.

Taste and Texture

Taste and texture are two reasons people choose to eat a certain fish. After all, who wants to add a fillet to their plate unless they enjoy the taste. When comparing the two fish, what tastes better?

Keta salmon has a milder and delicate flavor compared to sockeye which is fishier. Keta is moist when cooked properly and tastes like a mix of salmon and halibut. Sockeye is dense and buttery. 

I wanted to get the opinion of real people like you by conducting some original research. Therefore, I reached out to some clients, members of food groups and readers. I asked, which fish tastes better?

  • 49% said they preferred the taste of keta salmon.
  • 39% said they preferred the taste of sockeye salmon.
  • 12% said they had no preference.

I also participated in my own blind taste test. We pan fried both salmons and I ended up choosing keta. To be honest, I was a little disappointed sockeye didn’t win since I always purchase that one more.

In the taste poll and my own taste test, keta salmon was found to taste better and was the winner.

The following video explains to you how to cook sockeye salmon.

Substitutions

I think it’s happened to all of us, at the last minute you find out you’re out of the food needed in a recipe. Unable to go out to the store or just don’t want to, you’ve probably wondered if you can use another fish in its place.

Reasons why people will want to substitute one fish for the other in a recipe:

  • Availability
  • Taste
  • Price
  • Nutrient differences
  • Variety

This makes people wonder is it okay to use one for the other.

Keta and sockeye salmon can substitute for each other in recipes although the taste will be milder when using keta. Use equal amounts when substituting and the same cooking times depending on the size of the fillets. Both can be grilled, baked, smoked, steamed or broiled.

The Prices

The cost of either one will differ depending on your location, supermarket, fresh or frozen and whether its farm raised or wild caught. Therefore, let’s take a look at which one is more expensive.

Keta salmon is slightly more expensive than sockeye salmon. The average cost for keta salmon is $20 per pound while the average cost for sockeye is $19 per pound. The cost will vary depending on location, whether it is farm-raised or wild-caught, fresh or frozen.

To conduct my own research, I checked my local Shoprite, Costco and other supermarkets for the current prices of each. Here are my findings, I visited Shoprite first:

  • Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon
    • $20 per pound.
  • Wild Alaskan Sockeye salmon
    • $18 per pound
  • Wild Alaskan Keta salmon
    • $19 per pound
  • Wild Alaskan Keta salmon
    • $21 per pound
Shopping for and comparing keta salmon fillets
Shopping for and comparing keta salmon fillets

Read Next – More Salmon vs Fish Articles!

Atlantic vs Wild Salmon: Which Is Better?

Pink vs Red Salmon: What’s The Difference?

Tuna vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Halibut vs Salmon: Which Is Better?

Trout vs Salmon: Is One More Healthier Than The Other?

Shrimp vs. Salmon: A Complete Comparison

Char vs. Salmon – A Complete Comparison

Article Resources: Foods For Anti-Aging follows strict guidelines to ensure our content is the highest journalistic standard. It's our mission to provide the reader with accurate, honest and unbiased guidance. Our content relies on medical associations, research institutions, government agencies and study resources. Learn more by reading our editorial policy.
  1. NOAA: Chum Salmon[]
  2. Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Sockeye Salmon[]
  3. USDA: Fish, salmon, sockeye, raw[]
  4. FDA: Seafood Nutrition Facts[]
  5. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  6. National Center for Biotechnology Information: Effect of magnesium supplementation on blood pressure: a meta-analysis[]
  7. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  8. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information: The Effect of the Sodium to Potassium Ratio on Hypertension Prevalence: A Propensity Score Matching Approach[]
  10. Harvard Health: Potassium lowers blood pressure[]
  11. Harvard Health: Key minerals to help control blood pressure[]
  12. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]

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