Salmon a Nutritional Powerhouse

It is well known that Salmon is a nutritional powerhouse that is rich in protein, vitamin B12, vitamin D, selenium, vitamin B3 and omega-3 fatty acids. It’s credited with everything from decreasing inflammation1, lowering blood pressure2, and reducing cancer risk.3 But, what many don’t realize is that not all salmon are created equal.

“Wild-Caught” and “Alaskan” = Good

What is important to look for on the label are the terms “Wild-caught” and “Alaskan.” Wild-caught is important because it should mean that the Salmon was not farm raised and fed grain pellets, although the label “wild-caught” does not always guarantee that the fish was not for most of its life farm-raised. According to a report by the U.S. Department of Commerce, “There’s a bit of a grey area, since some ‘wild-caught’ seafood actually starts its life in a hatchery.” This should raise some serious eyebrows because it could be that a significant amount of wild-caught salmon is raised in hatcheries and is then released to the wild to be caught. Essentially, this negates the term “wild-caught.” In a nutshell, just because the package says “wild-caught,” doesn’t mean that it’s good for you. Alaskan is important because Salmon in Alaska are not allowed to be farmed. This is why I recommend true Alaskan wild-caught salmon. It’s really cost effective. According to the George Mateljan Foundation,4 Alaskan salmon is the least contaminated species. So the two of these labels together give you the best chance of receiving a truly high-quality product.

“Farmed” = Bad

Because of the poor nutritional feed they are given these “farmed-raised” salmon are lacking nutrition compared to their wild-caught brothers. This is especially true when it comes to omega-3s, which are just a fraction of what are found in wild-caught salmon.5 Farmed salmon are commonly found to have dangerous levels of: mercury, pesticides, dioxins, dioxin-like compunds (DLCs), and Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).6 And contain a significant level of toxins, pesticides, and antibotics. A 2011 study published in PLoS One,7 found mice that ate farmed salmon actually gained weight and had an increased risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes symptoms. This is primarily a result of these persistent organic pollutants (POPs) that again tend to be high in farmed salmon. This study looked specifically at organochlorine pesticides, dioxins, and PCBs.

To Summarize

The bottom line is as long as your salmon is from a true wild-caught source, it is one of the best sources of omega-3s there is. Plus, it is an amazing powerhouse of many other vitamins and minerals. And let me be clear: Farmed salmon is on my list of fish you should never eat.

What to Look For

Lastly a few tips on how to shop for salmon. Some things to look for, other than the labels “Wild-caught” and Alaskan, are: Clear eyes, Consistent coloring, no dark spots, Firm flesh that springs back to the touch, Flesh intact with bone, Free of cuts on belly area or other parts of the body, Free of discoloration, Fresh smelling (not fishy), No slime in gills and red gills bright in color.

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4030645/
  2. http://jn.nutrition.org/content/146/3/516.long
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4418048/
  4. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=104
  5. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-37321656
  6. http://darc.cms.udel.edu/Bioissues/Sciencesalmonstudy.pdf
  7. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0025170

No Sweat Recipe Of the Week

5 Ingredient Baked Salmon

Ingredients  

  • 1 Wild-caught Alaskan salmon filet
  • ½ cup raw (unpasteurized) grass-fed salted or unsalted butter, melted

*Kerrygold butter would be a good choice as well

  • 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 8 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons Thyme (preferably fresh, but can use dried)
  • Salt, to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Coat a baking dish or tray (just large enough for the salmon fillet) with a small amount of the butter
  3. Place the salmon on the baking dish or tray
  4. In a small saucepan, combine melted butter, lemon juice, garlic, and dill. Heat over low heat. Whisk together until combined well
  5. Pour butter mixture directly over salmon. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.