Americans consume nearly 185 million pounds of salmon per year. With salmon farms sprouting up along coastal regions of Maine and Washington, US fish farms are producing about 10 million pounds of fish per year. However, you may have noticed a different type of fish, which is nearly identical to salmon in the seafood aisle in your local grocery market - Steelhead trout. We’re going to talk about the specific similarities and differences between salmon vs steelhead so that you can decide which one you want this week on your dinner table.
What Is Steelhead Trout
Steelhead is a type of anadromous rainbow trout. Anadromous, meaning that they swim up-river from the sea to spawn. Steelhead have a pronounced pink stripe on the flank and are generally a bit smaller than their salmon counterparts ranging between 20-25”. Steelhead are able to spawn multiple times throughout their lifetime.
What Is Salmon
Salmon is also a type of anadromous fish, that migrate from fresh water to the sea, then return up-river to the exact spot they were born to spawn. There are several difference types of salmon, including Chinook, Chum, Coho, Pink, Atlantic and Sockeye. All of these species of salmon are found in the coastal waters of California, Alaska and the Pacific, with exception to Atlantic Salmon, which can be found off the coast of Maine. Unlike Steelhead, most male salmon die after they spawn the first time, while 10-40% may survive and return to the sea.
Wild Caught Vs. Farm Raised Fish
Simply put, wild caught fish is from a natural habitat, whereas farm-raised fish are spawned and raised in tanks. Nutritionally quality between the two largely depends on what the fish eats. Farm-raised fish can obtain higher omega-3s due to the feed, as compared to wild caught fish, yet could be lower high in saturated fat. Some studies show that farm-raised fish could in fact have a higher chance of contaminants, and be prone to disease, as opposed to wild-caught fish. Ultimately, quality of fish depends on the origin and if the fish is raised or caught domestically or internationally. Fish farms and inspections are highly regulated in the United States compared to other locations internationally and can have higher antibiotics and contaminants.
Salmon Vs Steelhead: Difference And Similarities
Both species of fish salmon and steelhead, belong to the family of salmonids and can be wild or farm raised. Steelhead and salmon are commonly confused due to their identical traits such as taste, texture, and appearance. Steelhead however are typically larger than rainbow trout because they spend a few years in salt water and a few years in fresh water.
Nutritionally, Steelhead is considered to be healthier than Salmon. Steelhead contains higher amounts of essential Omega-3 fatty acids, (EFAs) and vitamins than Salmon. A 3-oz serving of steelhead, also contains roughly 645 IU of Vitamin D and 3.5mcg of Vitamin B-12.
Salmon contains 175 calories, 11g of fat, and 19g of protein, while steelhead contains 120 calories, 5g of fat, and 17g of protein. Therefore, steelhead is going to provide a slightly better nutritional profile, with less fat and calories, and nearly the same amount of protein, per 3 oz serving.
When comparing price, steelhead is slightly more affordable than salmon, selling for $0.25 less than salmon per pound.
Although salmon and steelhead are nearly identical in texture and taste, steelhead is often considered to be more flavorful and less fishy than salmon. This of course also relies upon if they are wild or farm raised, and if they’re fresh or frozen.
Salmon Vs. Steelhead Trout: Takeaway
Next time you’re cruising through the seafood aisle for salmon, make sure to ask the butcher behind the counter if they have steelhead. Although they look similar, salmon and steelhead are very different. Steelhead is a better choice nutritionally, since it has less fat, less calories, and nearly the same amount of protein per serving. Steelhead also contains more omega-3 fatty acids, less sodium, and less cholesterol.
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