Coho vs Sockeye Salmon: What Are The Differences?

There are several types of salmon, and two of the most common ones are coho and sockeye. While it might seem like they are the same, they have some slight differences that may make one better than the other to consume. 

So, what are the differences between coho and sockeye salmon? The main differences between coho and sockeye salmon are that coho salmon has more calories (+7 kcal), less protein (-0.6 g), higher omega-3 content (+151 mg), and higher omega-6 content (+269 mg). However, they have a similar nutrient profile with key nutrients like selenium, vitamin B12, and niacin. 

As a Registered Dietitian, it is my role to guide people into the best protein source for them. While one might be better, coho and sockeye salmon are both good options for you to include in your diet. 

In this article, I will explore the differences between coho and sockeye salmon and discuss their pros and cons so you can decide which is the best for your diet. 

Coho Salmon vs. Sockeye Salmon: Nutritional Information

Coho salmon vs. Sockeye salmon: Nutritional information

There is a slight macronutrient difference between coho salmon and sockeye salmon. 

The following table compares the macros for 100 g of raw salmon for the coho and sockeye types.

IngredientCohoSockeye
Calories160153
Carbs (g)0.00.0
Protein (g)21.321.9
Fats (g)7.67.3
Saturated fats (g)1.81
Monounsaturated fats (g)3.32.2
Polyunsaturated fats (g)1.91.4
Omega-3 (mg)12811130
Omega-6 (mg)34980

Calories 

Coho salmon has slightly more calories (+7 kcal) than sockeye. 

If you only eat 100 g of coho salmon per day, those extra 7 calories won’t impact your progress, even if you’re trying to lose weight. Even if you eat 100 g of coho salmon daily, it only represents 49 extra calories for the week, which isn’t significant in the grand scheme of things.

So, when it comes to the calorie count, you shouldn’t obsess over whether coho or sockeye salmon is better for you. Choose the one you prefer instead of worrying about an extra 7 calories.

Protein

There is a 0.6 g difference in protein between coho and sockeye salmon, with sockeye having a higher content. 

Protein plays a crucial role in your body since it helps build muscle mass, increase your fullness levels, and slightly increase your metabolism

However, because the difference between coho and sockeye salmon is very minimal, you can interchange them at any time. 

Fats

The fat content is almost the same between coho and sockeye salmon. There is only a 0.3 g difference between the two, with coho having a bigger fat content. 

Coho salmon has a slightly higher saturated fat intake (1.8 g) than sockeye (1.0 g). However, they are still below 5 g of saturated fats, which is considered low to moderate saturated fat content

One of the benefits of salmon is its high unsaturated fat content, especially when talking about omega-3 fatty acids. They have anti-inflammatory properties, so they can help reduce inflammation in your body.

Micronutrients

When it comes to which has the higher micronutrient content (vitamins and minerals), the winner is sockeye salmon.

It’s important to note that nutrient content of less than 5% is considered low, while nutrient content of 20% is considered high. 

NutrientCoho - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portionSockeye - Daily Recommended Value in 100g portion
Vitamin A4%4%
Vitamin C2%0%
Vitamin E--
Vitamin K-6%
Thiamin6%17%
Riboflavin6%17%
Niacin34%40%
Vitamin B633%14%
Folate3%3%
Vitamin B1244%130%
Calcium1%1%
Iron2%3%
Magnesium8%7%
Phosphorus29%24%
Potassium13%10%
Zinc3%3%
Copper2%3%
Manganese1%1%
Selenium18%43%

The Top Nutrients In Coho Salmon and Their Benefits

  • Vitamin B12. It is one of the vitamins responsible for creating red blood cells, which transport oxygen and nutrients to your organs. When you don’t have an adequate intake of vitamin B12, there is a reduction in the production of red blood cells, which can make you feel more fatigued. 
  • Vitamin B6. This vitamin has benefits for your eye health. A study showed that people who supplemented a combination of vitamins B6, B12, and B9 saw a 35% reduction in the development of eye problems. 
  • Phosphorus. It helps regulate the amount of calcium in your bones to ensure optimal bone health

The Top Nutrients In Sockeye Salmon and Their Benefits

  • Selenium. Studies have shown that a 50% increase in selenium in your blood can decrease the risk of developing heart disease by 24%. 

Additionally, note that sockeye salmon is also high in phosphorus, niacin, and vitamin B12. 

Coho Salmon vs. Sockeye Salmon: 4 Differences

Coho salmon vs. Sockeye salmon 4 differences

1. Taste and Texture

Sockeye has an oilier texture and a more intense flavor, while coho has a milder flavor and texture.

Coho salmon also has a lighter color than sockeye. The latter one has a more intense color (almost bright orange).

They both pair nicely with almost any herb or spice of your choice, providing a massive advantage when you cook them. 

Winner: Sockeye 

Sockeye salmon has a stronger taste and an oilier texture, bringing out the salmon’s flavors. However, this all comes down to preferences. 

2. Cooking Methods

One of the benefits of salmon is that you can use any cooking method. You can grill it, bake it, put it in the air fryer, or pan-fry it. Any option you choose can bring a lot of flavor to your dish. 

There is not a lot of difference in cooking times between coho and sockeye salmon. It all depends on the thickness of the filet to determine how long it will take to cook. It can take about 10-15 minutes to cook salmon. 

Winner: Tie

They both have similar cooking methods and can take 10-15 minutes (depending on the thickness of the filet) to cook. 

3. Costs and Availability

Regarding the price, there is no difference between coho and sockeye. The only difference relies on the availability of the product. 

The most common type of salmon often found in stores is sockeye. Not all stores have coho salmon available; if they do, it is the canned version in most cases.

Salmon (1lb)WalmartCostcoTargetWhole Foods
Coho-$20.00-$14.99
Sockeye$13.58$20.00$17.98$14.99

Winner: Sockeye

Since they have identical prices, it comes down to availability. Sockeye salmon is easier to find than coho. 

4. Omega-3 and Omega-6

Coho salmon has more omega-3 (+151 mg) and a higher omega-6 content (269 mg) than sockeye salmon. Both have high levels of omega-3, which makes them an excellent option for reducing inflammation. 

Omega-3 and omega-6 are essential for your body, but your body cannot produce them. This means they need to come from your food. 

As I mentioned earlier, omega-3 has anti-inflammatory properties. On the other hand, omega-6 fatty acids have pro-inflammatory properties

While you need some inflammation in your body to help your body adapt (like when you cut your hand, there is an increase in inflammation to help your body heal), too much inflammation can lead to poor sleep, bad digestion, and trouble losing weight

Studies have shown that people consume more omega-6 than omega-3 fatty acids, leading to higher levels of inflammation. The recommended ratio is 2:1 (omega-6 to omega-3). However, research shows that people have a 16:1 ratio. 

That is why it’s important to focus on consuming more omega-3 fatty acids to help decrease the omega-6 content in your body. 

Both coho and sockeye salmon have good levels of omega-3. Coho salmon has 1,281 mg, and sockeye salmon has 1,130 mg. The difference between them (151 mg) is not very significant. They both are a great addition to your diet when looking to reduce inflammation. 

However, there is a difference when it comes to the omega-6 content. Coho salmon has a higher omega-6 content (+269 mg) than sockeye. This means that if you want to reduce inflammation, consuming sockeye is better. 

Winner: Sockeye

While coho salmon has a higher omega-3 content, it also has a higher omega-6 content. Sockeye has similar omega-3 content but a lower omega-6 content, which is better for reducing inflammation. 

Coho Salmon vs. Sockeye Salmon: Wild-Caught vs. Farm Raised 

There are two ways you can get salmon: farm-raised or wild-caught.

Farm-raised fish are raised in small, controlled environments. To prevent infections, they are often treated with antibiotics, which pollute the water. Other wildlife can then ingest the antibiotics and lose their ability to fight any unknown disease.

On the other hand, wild-caught fish are caught in their natural habits and not treated with antibiotics. Research shows that they can have 50% more omega-3 content than farm-raised fish.

Salmon are also divided into two categories, depending on which coastal region they come from: Atlantic or Pacific.

Atlantic salmon is almost always farmed, while Pacific salmon is usually wild-caught. Both coho salmon and sockeye salmon are Pacific salmon, which means they are more likely to be caught in their natural habitats.

Winner: Tie

Coho and sockeye salmon are both excellent options if you prefer wild-caught fish.

Coho Salmon vs. Sockeye Salmon on Different Diets: Which Is Better

Keto

On a keto diet, you reduce your carb intake, but you need to increase your fat content since it will be your main energy source. In most cases, people often forget to increase their fat intake. They only focus on lowering their carb intake. 

Both coho and sockeye salmon are excellent options since they provide you with healthy fats to help you achieve a high fat intake. 

Winner: Tie

They both provide you with healthy fats, which can help you reach your daily fat goals on a keto diet. 

Paleo

The main focus of a paleo diet is to reduce inflammation in your body. As mentioned before, omega-3 fatty acids help reduce inflammation, while omega-6 fatty acids increase inflammation. 

Thus, you want to consume high omega-3 with low omega-6 content when doing paleo. 

Winner: Sockeye salmon

While coho salmon has more omega-3, sockeye salmon still has a high omega-3 content and a lower omega-6 content. 

Intermittent Fasting 

When you have a short eating window, it might be more difficult to reach your total caloric intake.

If you have a hard time eating enough calories when doing intermittent fasting, a high-calorie food source like salmon can be a great addition.

Winner: Tie

Coho and sockeye salmon are both excellent options since they are both high-calorie food sources.

Low-Sodium Diet

Both fresh coho and sockeye salmon are excellent protein sources when following a low-sodium diet. However, you need to be careful when you buy them canned since they can have large sodium content. 

When buying canned food, ensure it has less than 140 mg of sodium per serving (100 g) to be considered low in sodium. 

Winner: Tie

Natural coho and sockeye salmon are low in sodium, which makes them a great option for those following a low-sodium diet. 

Low FODMAP Diet

Since coho and sockeye salmon don’t have any carbs, they don’t offer any FODMAPS, making them excellent options for those who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. However, be careful how you cook them since some vegetables, like onions and garlic, are high in FODMAP, which can cause you to have a flare-up. 

Winner: Tie

They are both low in FODMAP, which makes them excellent choices for those with irritable bowel syndrome. 

Coho Salmon vs. Sockeye Salmon: Which Is Better For Weight Loss?

There is a slight difference in the caloric content of coho and sockeye salmon, with coho salmon having 7 kcal more than sockeye. But as I discussed earlier, 7 calories throughout an entire day aren’t enough to ruin your weight loss progress.

However, salmon, in general, is higher in fat than a leaner source of protein, like chicken breast. Since fat has 9 calories per gram while protein only has 4, the calories can add up if you eat more than 1-2 servings of either coho or sockeye salmon daily.

The Winner: Tie

Since the difference in calories is minimal, you can choose either one when trying to lose weight.

However, try not to consume more than 1-2 servings per day since coho and sockeye salmon are both higher in calories than other lean protein sources. 

Coho Salmon vs. Sockeye Salmon: Which Is Better For Muscle Gain?

While coho salmon has a slightly higher calorie and protein content, the difference is negligible. Whether you consume coho or sockeye salmon won’t significantly affect your muscle-building progress.

What is important when trying to gain muscle is being in a caloric surplus, meaning you need to consume more calories than your body burns each day.

Since both types of salmon are higher in calories and fat than foods like chicken, tilapia, and cod, they can help you reach your daily calories more easily.

Winner: Tie

You can eat either coho salmon or sockeye salmon when trying to gain muscle. Just make sure you’re eating enough daily calories to put you in a caloric surplus to support your muscle-building goals. 

Practical Recommendations: Coho Salmon vs. Sockey Salmon

Practical recommendations: Coho salmon vs. Sockey salmon

Mix Them Up

Whether one is better for you than the other, a healthy diet means having a variety of nutrients. This means that instead of focusing on having just one type of protein, ensure you have different proteins throughout the day and the week. 

This means that if you eat coho salmon one day, eat sockeye salmon the next time you decide to eat salmon. 

The same applies to other protein options. Don’t have only salmon as your protein; include other proteins like tuna, Mahi Mahi, cod, tilapia, flounder, chicken thighs, chicken breast, and red meat

Choose the One You Like

One of the most important things I tell my clients is to choose the protein they like. You don’t have to force yourself into having food you don’t like.

This means if you prefer the taste and texture of sockeye salmon, for example, you should eat sockeye salmon. Eating should be a pleasant moment, not something you dread. 

Track Your Food

While there are only slight differences between coho and sockeye salmon, it is still a good idea to keep track of the foods you eat to know where you need to compensate (i.e., by adding more calories, proteins, and fats to your other daily meals or reducing the portion sizes of the salmon to stay within your macro targets). 

Using a macro tracker like MacroFactor can help you stay within your daily calories and macros.

Cook Them in Different Ways

One of the main problems with fish is that people don’t know how to cook it or make it tasty.

If you don’t know how to cook coho or sockeye salmon, here are some recipes to help you get all the goodness into your diet:

What To Read Next

Wondering how salmon compares to other types of fish? Check out the following resources:


About The Author

Brenda Peralta

Brenda Peralta is a Registered Dietitian and certified sports nutritionist.  In addition to being an author for FeastGood.com, she fact checks the hundreds of articles published across the website to ensure accuracy and consistency of information.