Tuna vs Salmon: Which is Better?


Both tuna and salmon have amazing nutritional value and they both taste great in a variety of meals. Therefore, which is better, tuna or salmon?

Salmon is better than tuna due to its Omega 3s which is 18 times more than tuna. Salmon contains more than double the numbers of vitamin D, thiamin, riboflavin, B5, folate and calcium. Tuna contains more unhealthy mercury which is why the FDA recommends consuming less of it than salmon. 

Both tuna and salmon are popular, delicious fish, but how are they different? I’ll compare their nutrients one by one. In addition, this article will examine their mercury, tastes, textures, costs and if you can substitute one for the other.

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Disclaimer: Some links in this article are affiliate links which means I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. As an Amazon associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Nutrition in Tuna and Salmon

Nutrient

Salmon, raw

(4 Ounces)

Tuna, raw

(4 Ounces)

Calories 161 124
Fat 7.2 g  0.6 g
Protein 23 g  28 g
Omega-3 1.95 g  0.11 g
B-6 0.9 mg  1.0 mg
B-12 3.6 mcg  2.3 mcg
Thiamin 0.2 mg 0.1 mg
Riboflavin 0.4 mg 0.1 mg
Vitamin D 375 IU 59 IU
B5 1.8 mg 0.2 mg
Iron 0.9 mg 0.8 mg
Vitamin A 13.6 mcg  20.4 mcg
Niacin 8.9 mg  20.9 mg
Folate 28.3 mcg  2.2 mcg
Potassium 555 mg  500 mg
Magnesium 32 mg  39 mg
Phosphorus 226 mg  315 mg
Calcium 13.6 mg  4.5 mg
Zinc 0.7 mg 0.4 mg
Selenium 41.4 mcg  102.7 mcg

Most types of fish have great nutritional value in them. They contain different types and amounts of vitamins compared to most other protein foods.

Those who change their diet to no longer include meats but can still eat fish (pescetarian) incorporate great nutrition in their diet. Fish has lots of vitamins and Omega 3s, and it is generally a very healthy protein.

Therefore, let’s examine the nutrients contained in tuna and salmon. Do they make tuna or salmon healthier?

Salmon is healthier than tuna due to its heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Although both are highly nutritious, salmon contains 18 times more omega-3s than tuna. Salmon also contains more B12, B5, vitamin D, folate, potassium, calcium and zinc. In addition, salmon contains less unhealthy mercury.

The omega-3s and mercury found in salmon are what really separates the two fish. Why are omega-3 fatty acids so beneficial? Omega-3 fatty acids are heart healthy and help keep the blood vessels healthy and cholesterol levels low.

DHA and EPA fatty acids are associated with lowering blood pressure and improving the health of blood vessels 1. Read the mercury section of the article below to learn more about mercury.

The next largest difference is salmon contains much more B5, B2, B1, B12 and vitamin D than tuna 2.

Although tuna is no slouch. It contains more protein than salmon and double the number of niacin and Vitamin A. Tuna also contains more phosphorus and selenium 3. Adding tuna to your meals provides significant nutritional value.

Both fish contain good amounts of potassium and magnesium. Potassium is beneficial for combating high sodium intake because it helps the body reduce fluids and rids excess sodium 4. This process helps to reduce blood pressure.

Magnesium is also beneficial for the heart and improves blood pressure. It achieves this by helping the blood vessels to relax and controls other nutrients like potassium and calcium 5.

Some people argue it’s hard to definitively say tuna or salmon is more nutritional than the other unless you have a specific metric in mind. For instance, some people need more Vitamin B12 than others.

So if you compare the two, salmon wins because it has more Vitamin B12 than tuna 6. Compare the charts to what your food needs are, then compare tuna and salmon together.

One may be better for you than the other even though they are both healthy options, so evaluate based on your needs 7.

Always confer with your physician before changing your nutrition. 

While tuna may not be as healthy, what about cod vs salmon? Check out my article here, Cod vs Salmon: Is One Better?

Tuna vs Salmon: Taste and Texture

Salmon is soft and light in flavor. It has a rich, oily taste. Salmon is oilier than tuna because of its higher omega-3 fat content.

Salmon has a tender, buttery texture although some varieties have more firm textures and more intense flavors. Whatever meal you make with one type of salmon, you can probably make with another.

Tuna has a meaty and mushy texture. It is not flaky. When used as an ingredient in a meal, it adds a creamy flavor and texture. Tuna is also oily but not as much as salmon. It cooks well in many foods, so meals are fast and easy when tuna is involved.

Tuna and Salmon Substitutions

Sometimes the fish you’re looking to cook isn’t available in your local supermarket or fish market. You may already have tuna, or it’s the only one available. Therefore, you may ask the question, can you substitute tuna for salmon?

Tuna and salmon can substitute for each other when cooking seafood. They both have a darker meat with a light to moderate flavor although the taste will be different. Tuna and salmon can be cooked using the same methods like slow-roasted, poached or searing in a pan.

Canned tuna is very popular. Growing up tuna salad on toast was one of my favorite sandwiches. If you planned on using canned salmon but don’t have any available, can you substitute canned tuna for canned salmon?

Canned tuna can substitute for canned salmon. Although the taste and color will be different, they can be prepared the same way using equal amounts according to the recipe. The other ingredients and preparation time can remain the same. 

When substituting tuna for salmon, they both can be served on crackers or on top of a bed of lettuce. If making tuna or salmon salad, ingredients like celery, onion, mayo or lemon juice can remain the same 8.

What can I substitute for salmon in a recipe? The following fish can substitute for salmon in a recipe:

  • Mackerel
  • Trout
  • Bluefish
  • Striped bass
  • Arctic char
  • Mahi mahi
  • Tuna

What fish can replace tuna? Fish that can replace tuna include:

  • Salmon
  • Bluefish
  • Black Sea bass
  • Swordfish
  • Salmon steak

When substituting one fish for another:

  • Pick similar fillets, whole fillet or cross section.
  • Always choose the same weight and size.
  • If the recipe calls for skinless, choose skinless and visa versa.
  • When grilling a firm texture is more important.
  • Substitute a fatty or lean fish for the same.

You can cook or bake salmon with a simple seasoning because the natural flavor is quite pleasing. If you need a fast and easy meal or if you want to take your time making a specific dish, salmon is a great option.

Some people like smoking their salmon for several hours to give it a bolder, smokier flavor, while others love to flavor it with light seasonings and lemons.

When you think of tuna, chances are you imagine it as canned food. It is often in cat food or used in tuna salad sandwiches. It is easy to pop the can open and add the tuna to any desired meal.

You can add canned tuna to many dinners. The quality of food like casseroles, pasta, quesadillas, salads, and more improves by adding tuna.

No matter what meal you want to create, as long as you have tuna or salmon in your kitchen, you can make great-tasting meals that are healthy for you and your family.

The Cost of Tuna and Salmon

The cost of tuna or salmon will differ depending on your location, supermarket, fresh or frozen and whether it’s farm raised or wild caught. Which is more expensive, tuna or salmon?

Tuna is slightly more expensive than salmon. The average cost for tuna is $14.49 per pound while the average cost for salmon is $11.99 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, wild caught tuna fillet Yellow-fin
    • $7.98 per pound
  • Fresh tuna steak Ahi
    • $10.99 per pound.
  • Fresh tuna steak Yellow-fin
    • $26.00 per pound
  • Fresh, farm raised Atlantic salmon
    • $9.99 per pound
  • Fresh, wild caught Coho salmon
    • $14.99 per pound
  • Fresh Atlantic salmon steak
    • $10.99 per pound.

How about canned tuna and salmon, which is more expensive? Canned salmon is more expensive than canned tuna. A 5-ounce can of red salmon cost $1.00 per ounce while a 5-ounce can of solid white tuna costs 0.38¢ per ounce.

In addition, a 5-ounce can of pink salmon costs $1.99 per can while a 5-ounce can of chunk lite tuna costs $1.29 per can.

Have you ever wondered if canned salmon is the same as salmon? If so, check out my article, Frozen Salmon vs Canned Salmon: Which Is Healthier?

To save some money on fresh seafood, would you believe some can be purchased on Amazon? Check out their current prices and selection, Fresh Seafood.

tuna vs salmon

Tuna vs Salmon: Mercury Levels

The FDA and EPA have issued warnings and suggestions regarding mercury levels in fish and consuming them 9. This is especially important for pregnant women, women breastfeeding and for young children.

The FDA and EPA established a list of fish that are best and good choices based on their mercury levels. They also have a third section which are choices to avoid because they have the highest mercury levels. Therefore does tuna or salmon have more mercury?

Tuna contains more mercury than salmon. Salmon is listed on the FDA’s best choices of fish to eat regarding mercury levels. The FDA recommends salmon is safe to eat two to three times a week while albacore or yellowfin once a week. Bigeye tuna is one of the fish the FDA recommends to avoid due to the highest mercury levels.

Mercury is not beneficial for children’s brain development. When fish eat other fish in the ocean, more mercury builds up in their bodies over time. Bigger fish like tuna have more mercury in them than other fish like salmon.

Mercury is especially harmful to children to consume because they are in crucial stages of development both physically and mentally. Mercury in high amounts (as can often be found in tuna) can harm children’s brain and language development.

Mercury poisoning is also known as hydrargyria and mercurialism. Mercury is a toxic metal, and it is everywhere. It is in water, on land, in the air, and in fish.

The daily interactions you have with mercury do not usually harm you, but regularly eating food containing a high amount of mercury can be dangerous.

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

Tuna vs Salmon: What’s The Difference?

What are the differences between salmon and tuna?

Salmon is a freshwater and saltwater fish while tuna is only a saltwater fish. Tuna grow larger and weigh more than salmon. Tuna is found in the open waters near the coast or offshore. Salmon inhabit the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and offshore rivers and streams.

 Salmon is renowned for being a part of many diets like keto or heart healthy. Salmon are freshwater fish but are typically are born in fresh water streams or rivers. 

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 10.

Salmon’s average lifespan is four to five years. The average salmon is 28-30 inches long and weighs three to five pounds. King salmon is the largest and can grow up to 58 inches 11.

Salmon is very popular and can be found on almost every restaurant menu. While eating out, tuna is more difficult to find. 

Tuna is a saltwater fish. There are 15 species including bullet, bluefin, yellowfin, albacore, bigeye and more 12. Tuna inhabit the open waters and live near the coast and offshore. 

The average tuna’s weight and size varies greatly depending on the species. Typical adults measure between four and eight feet long. An albacore grows to 79 pounds, yellowfin to 397 pounds and northern bluefin tuna to 1,800 pounds 13.

Read Next – More Salmon vs Fish Articles!

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. National Center for Biotechnology: Marine Omega-3 Supplementation and Cardiovascular Disease[]
  2. Nutrition Value: Tuna, raw, fresh[]
  3. FDA: Fish, tuna, fresh, yellowfin, raw[]
  4. American Heart Association: How Potassium Can Help Control High Blood Pressure[]
  5. National Institutes of Health: Magnesium[]
  6. Nutrition Value: Fish, raw, wild, Atlantic, salmon[]
  7. USDA: Fish, salmon, Atlantic, farmed, raw[]
  8. Sea Grant North Carolina: Fish Flavors and Substitutions[]
  9. FDA: Advice about Eating Fish[]
  10. The University Of Maine: Maine Seafood Guide – Salmon[]
  11. USGS: How many species of salmon are there and how large can they get?[]
  12. Wikipedia: Tuna[]
  13. Britannica: tuna[]

Kevin Garce

Kevin Garce is a Certified Health Coach who encourages people by informing them on nutrition and food topics important to them. His years of research and knowledge inspire people to achieve their goals. Read more here About Me

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