Salmon Keta Vs Sockeye

Keta and sockeye salmon may appear similar, but they are actually different fish species. As a Certified Health Coach, I often receive questions about salmon, so I want to shed some light on the differences between keta salmon and sockeye salmon.

The Visual Differences

Sockeye salmon has a stunning silvery blue-green color, while keta salmon showcases hues of red and green. In terms of nutritional composition, sockeye salmon has less cholesterol and more protein than keta salmon. While sockeye salmon contains more sodium, both varieties are carb-free. When it comes to fat and calorie content, keta and sockeye salmon are quite comparable.

Taking a Closer Look

In this article, we’ll delve into a detailed analysis of their differences, presenting a side-by-side nutrient comparison. Additionally, we’ll explore factors such as taste, texture, mercury levels, prices, and the possibility of substituting one for the other.

Keta Salmon or Dog Salmon

Keta salmon, also known as chum salmon or dog salmon, belongs to the pacific salmon family, scientifically referred to as Oncorhynchus keta. These salmon usually live for about 3 to 5 years and can grow up to 3.6 feet long. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) states that they typically weigh between 8 and 15 pounds, though some can reach up to 35 pounds[^1^]. Keta salmon display a silver and blue-green color, although the shades tend to shift and blend. Some individuals have darker spots, while others do not. As they transition from saltwater to freshwater, their colors change from silvery greenish-blue to dark olive. While they reside in saltwater, they migrate to freshwater for spawning purposes.

Keta salmon fish
Keta salmon fish

Sockeye Salmon

Sockeye salmon, also known as red salmon or blueback salmon, is another species of pacific salmon that typically lives for 3 to 7 years. Scientifically referred to as Oncorhynchus nerka, they can grow to nearly 3 feet in length and weigh up to 15 pounds. According to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game[^2^], sockeye salmon are smaller compared to many other salmon species, usually measuring 18 to 31 inches long and weighing 4 to 15 pounds.

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Sockeye salmon fish
Sockeye salmon fish

Nutrient Comparison

Let’s take a look at a nutrient comparison between keta and sockeye salmon:

Nutrient Sockeye Salmon Keta Salmon
Omega-3 Fatty Acids Higher Lower
B Vitamins Higher Lower
Iron Lower Higher
Potassium Lower Higher
Phosphorus Lower Higher
Calcium Lower Higher

Based on this comparison, sockeye salmon emerges as the winner. It offers a higher concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and fewer cholesterol levels compared to keta salmon. However, keta salmon still provides ample nutrients, including iron, potassium, phosphorus, and calcium.

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

Keta and sockeye nutrient comparison
Keta and sockeye nutrient comparison

Health Benefits

Salmon offers numerous health benefits primarily due to its omega-3 fatty acid content. Let’s break down the specific benefits provided by sockeye and keta salmon.

Sockeye Salmon Benefits

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are crucial for maintaining overall health, especially for the heart. Sockeye salmon contains a higher quantity of omega-3s compared to keta salmon. These essential fatty acids have been scientifically proven to regulate heart rhythms, lower inflammation, reduce triglycerides, maintain healthy blood pressure, decrease bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol, and promote the proper functioning of arteries[^5^]. They have also shown positive effects in reducing joint stiffness and pain in arthritis patients, as well as enhancing the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory drugs.

B Vitamins

Sockeye salmon is an excellent source of various B vitamins, including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), B5, B6, folate (B9), and B12. These vitamins play vital roles in supporting energy levels, cardiovascular health, brain function, digestion, nerve function, and red blood cell production.


Sockeye salmon contains a significant amount of magnesium, which helps stabilize and balance blood pressure levels. Research has shown that magnesium supplementation can decrease systolic and diastolic blood pressure[^6^]. It also contributes to the regulation of blood sugar, muscle function, better sleep, and improved nerve function. Magnesium competes with calcium to help muscles relax after contraction. When magnesium levels are low, calcium can overstimulate heart muscle cells, leading to irregular heartbeats[^7^].

Keta Salmon Benefits


Keta salmon is a great source of potassium, providing approximately 486 mg per four ounces. Potassium helps eliminate excess sodium from the body, thus reducing fluid retention and helping to maintain lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure[^8^]. Numerous studies have connected low potassium levels to high blood pressure[^10^].

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Keta salmon offers a notable amount of calcium, which plays a crucial role in maintaining blood pressure by assisting in the relaxation and tightening of blood vessels[^11^]. Calcium also contributes to proper muscle and nerve function, as well as supporting strong bones.


Keta salmon provides a substantial amount of phosphorus, around 320 mg per four ounces. Phosphorus aids in waste elimination by the kidneys, energy management and storage, healthy nerve conduction, teeth and bone strength, muscle contraction, and muscle recovery.

Preparing fillets of sockeye salmon
Preparing fillets of sockeye salmon

Mercury Levels

The FDA has issued warnings about mercury levels in fish, especially for pregnant women and young children. Therefore, it’s essential to be aware of the mercury content in various fish. Let’s see how keta and sockeye salmon fare in terms of mercury levels.

Both keta and sockeye salmon have similar mercury levels and are included on the FDA’s list of best fish choices regarding mercury levels. The FDA recommends consuming no more than two to three servings of these salmon per week[^12^]. Since both fish grow to approximately the same size, their mercury levels remain comparable. However, it’s essential to note that mercury can be particularly harmful to children during crucial development stages.

Always consult with a physician before introducing new foods or making significant dietary changes.

Taste and Texture

The taste and texture of a fish are essential factors that determine whether it will be enjoyed. After all, who wants to add a fillet to their plate if they don’t enjoy the flavor? Let’s compare the taste of keta and sockeye salmon.

Keta salmon boasts a milder and delicate flavor compared to the fishier taste of sockeye salmon. Properly cooked keta salmon has a moist texture and tastes like a delightful blend of salmon and halibut. On the other hand, sockeye salmon offers a dense and buttery texture.

To gauge real opinions, I conducted original research, involving clients, food group members, and readers. The majority of respondents preferred the taste of keta salmon (49%), while 39% favored sockeye salmon. A small percentage (12%) expressed no preference. Additionally, in my own blind taste test, where we pan-fried both varieties, I found myself leaning towards keta salmon. I must admit, as someone who regularly purchases sockeye salmon, I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t emerge as the winner. Based on the taste poll and my personal experience, keta salmon was favored for its superior taste.

See also  Atlantic Or Sockeye Salmon

Preparing fillets of sockeye salmon
Preparing fillets of sockeye salmon


We’ve all encountered situations where we run out of a particular ingredient just before cooking. In these cases, we wonder if we can use a substitute. Several factors may prompt people to consider swapping one fish for another, including availability, taste preferences, price, nutritional variances, and a desire for variety. So, can sockeye or keta salmon be used interchangeably?

Yes, both keta and sockeye salmon can be substituted for one another in recipes. However, it’s important to note that when using keta salmon as a substitute, the taste will be milder compared to sockeye. To ensure an even swap, use equal amounts and adjust cooking times accordingly based on the size of the fillets. These versatile salmon varieties can be prepared through grilling, baking, smoking, steaming, or broiling.

The Prices

The cost of keta and sockeye salmon can vary depending on factors such as location, supermarket, freshness, whether they are farm-raised or wild-caught, and whether they are fresh or frozen. Let’s dive into a price comparison.

On average, keta salmon is slightly more expensive than sockeye salmon. The average cost per pound for keta salmon is $20, while sockeye salmon costs around $19 per pound. It’s important to keep in mind that prices may differ based on location and availability.

To conduct my own research, I visited local supermarkets like Shoprite and Costco to check the current prices. Here are my findings from Shoprite:

  • 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 Atlantic Salmon and Fish Articles!

If you’re interested in learning more about Atlantic salmon and other fish varieties, check out these 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 Healthier Than The Other?
  • Shrimp vs. Salmon: A Complete Comparison
  • Char vs. Salmon – A Complete Comparison

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