Health Benefits of Salmon
Salmon, a species of fish belonging to the Salmonidae family, can benefit you and your overall health in many ways. Not only is salmon very nutritious, but also very tasty, cost effective, and one of the safest fish for consumption on the market. It can be served many ways such as baked, grilled, or even raw in sushi. No matter which way you choose to eat salmon, it is important that you incorporate it into your diet.
So what nutritional value does salmon provide? Salmon is most popular for its richness in omega-3 fatty acids (see Issue 13 for an in depth discussion of Omega 3 benefits). Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential for the human health but our body cannot make them. With that said, in order to obtain these necessary omega-3 fatty acids, we need to consume the right foods. These fatty acids are responsible for the majority of the health benefits salmon provide. While salmon is high in polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is low in trans-fatty acids. Trans-fatty acids can lead to greater risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. It also may increase bad cholesterol level and decrease good cholesterol. With that said, eating food such as salmon can help you reduce your trans-fatty intake and help prevent health issues related to cholesterol, heart, and diabetes. Not only is salmon low in transfatty acids, but it is also low in calories. If you are trying to lower your calorie intake, incorporating salmon into your diet is a great way to do it. Lastly, salmon is high in protein which contains the necessary amino acids for body growth and maintenance of muscle tissue. The protein also helps regulate your metabolism which is important for weight loss.
Ocean-Farmed Salmon vs. Wild Salmon
Although all types of salmon include the same health benefits, it is important to know the difference between ocean-farmed salmon and wild salmon because there are minor differences which may sway your preference. To begin with, even though both types contain omega-3 fatty acids, wild salmon contain more usable fatty acids than farm raised salmon. Overall, the fat content of farm-raised salmon is actually 30 to 35% higher due to what they are fed and their environmental conditions which limit them from the amount of free swimming that wild salmon partake in. In addition to the difference in fat content, unlike wild salmon, farmed salmon contain artificial coloring known as canthaxanthin in order to stay appealing to the eye of the consumer. Although the use of artificial coloring has raised some concern, it has not been proven to be harmful to humans. Another component that differentiates ocean-farmed salmon from wild salmon is the PCBs in farm raised salmon. PCBs, (polychlorinated biphenyls), are mixtures of up to 209 individual chlorinated compounds.
Farm raised salmon absorb PCBs from contaminated sediments from the food they are fed. This is of concern because if you eat a large amount of farm raised salmon, the PCBs become stored in your body. They eventually leave your body however; due to the evidence of potential health effects this is something to be aware of. Like the artificial coloring, the PCB in farm raised salmon has not been proven to be harmful to humans. With that said, ocean-farmed salmon is a lot less expensive. Wild salmon is about 3 to 4 times more expensive than farm raised salmon. Overall, both types of salmon provide you with a substantial amount of nutritional value. While it may seem that ocean farmed salmon is less beneficial to you than wild salmon, it still contains all of the same health benefits, is cost effective, is tasty, and is proven to be one of the safest fish for consumption on the market. If you want the absolute highest quality salmon, perhaps wild salmon is the best type for you.