Nutritional Benefits of Salmon
Salmon is a well-known source of healthy nutrients, such as omega-3 fatty acids, and is known to have a positive effect on a person’s health. It is also a good source of protein, B vitamins, iron, and other essential minerals.
Here, we’ll take a closer look at the nutritional benefits of salmon so you can decide if it’s something to add to your diet:
Omega-3 fatty acids
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are known for their role in promoting health and wellness. They are polyunsaturated fats that the body cannot produce on its own, and must be obtained through diet or supplementation. Omega-3s have been widely studied for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects. They may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, arthritis, autoimmune diseases, Parkinson’s disease, depression and memory loss.
Additionally, omega-3s have been shown to reduce inflammation in the body and protect against age-related eye conditions such as macular degeneration.
Wild salmon contains more omega-3s than farmed salmon–one 3-ounce serving of wild Alaskan sockeye salmon contains approximately 1 gram of total omega-3 fatty acids. Sockeye salmon is also one of the highest sources of astaxanthin, an antioxidant powerhouse nutrient known to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress on cells–making this fish even more nutritious!
High in protein
Salmon is one of the healthiest sources of protein available. It is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids and other essential vitamins and minerals. A 3-ounce serving or 75 grams of cooked salmon contains about 18 grams of protein, which is about a third of the daily recommended intake for adults.
Salmon also has high levels of eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), two polyunsaturated fatty acids beneficial to human health. EPA helps reduce inflammation while DHA helps to improve cognitive function, cardiovascular health, eye health, and more.
Salmon also contains plenty of Vitamin D, which can significantly reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, as well as calcium, iron, B vitamins, potassium, and zinc. These nutrients work together to make salmon one of the most nutritious foods available.
High in vitamins and minerals
Salmon is a nutrient-rich fish, especially when it comes to proteins, omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins. These are essential nutrients for good health and can be found in significant amounts in salmon.
- Proteins: A 3-ounce (85 g) serving of cooked Atlantic salmon provides 17–20 grams of protein, or 30–38% of the Daily Value (DV). This is similar to many other types of seafood and makes it an important part of a protein-rich diet.
- Omega-3 fatty acids and B vitamins: Salmon is one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for good health. These fatty acids have anti-inflammatory effects, support heart health, reduce high triglycerides levels and may even protect against certain mental disorders. Salmon is also rich in vitamin B12, vitamin B6 and choline—key vitamins for energy metabolism, healthy hormone production and brain development.
Additionally, salmon is one of the best sources of niacin – vitamin B3 – which helps turn what you eat into energy rather than fat. Niacin helps keep your skin healthy by maintaining its moisture barrier functions, plays important roles in mood regulation via brain chemistry modulation and aids red blood cell production to help keep your blood oxygenated properly.
Potential Risks of Eating Salmon
Salmon is one of the most popular ingredients used in healthy recipes, but it is important to note that not all forms of salmon are healthy. Eating too much salmon can have a negative effect on your health, so it is important to understand the potential risks associated with consuming salmon regularly.
This article will cover the potential risks of eating salmon:
Consuming too much mercury can be harmful to human health, as it can accumulate in the body over time. Mercury contamination is especially a risk with certain types of fish, including salmon.
In fact, some governments have issued warnings against eating certain species of salmon – such as Chinook, pink, and coho – because of their high mercury levels. However, these advisories do not apply to all types of salmon since the risk of contamination depends on the particular species and its location. Farmed salmon generally has a higher level of contaminants than wild-caught fish because the farmed salmon eats a diet that includes feed enriched with mercury-contaminated fishmeal.
Therefore, when choosing your salmon, opt for wild-caught varieties from safe sources whenever possible and keep an eye out for potential risks like unauthorized fish farming or nearby industrial activities that may add contaminants to the water or feed. Talk to your local retailer or researcher to find out more about where your fish comes from and check government warnings regarding consumption in specific areas. Also note that pregnant women in particular should avoid eating any large ocean fish (such as tuna) due to its potential contamination with methylmercury – an especially harmful form of mercury that can affect an unborn baby’s developing nervous system.
PCBs and other pollutants
Wild-caught fish can contain traces of potentially harmful contaminants such as mercury, persistent organic pollutants (POPs) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs).
POPs are a type of man-made chemical that does not break down in the environment. They include a variety of pollutants and chemicals such as pesticides. PCBs are synthetic industrial chemicals used for various applications in electrical equipment and other materials.
Research on the effects of eating salmon contaminated with POPs and PCBs has shown an association between consumption and negative health consequences such as cancer, endocrine disruption and adverse reproductive effects.
The greatest risk of consuming contaminated salmon occurs if you eat large amounts regularly over long periods of time. Fish raised in aquaculture farms may also be exposed to environmental concentrations of PCBs, so it’s important to investigate the source before purchasing farm-raised fish to be sure they meet government standards for safe consumption.
Risk of foodborne illness
Although salmon can be very nutritious, it contains such parasites as Anisakis that can cause foodborne illness in humans. While the internal temperature of cooked salmon should reach 145°F to destroy bacteria and parasites, consuming rare or undercooked salmon can put you at risk of contracting food poisoning. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), raw fish should always reach this recommended internal temperature to ensure it is safe for consumption.
According to The American Dietetic Association, eating uncooked or lightly cooked fish could expose an individual to parasites, like Anisakis, which can cause stomach cramps and vomiting shortly after consumption. Additionally, when eating farmed fish versus wild-caught fish, there is also a risk of ingesting persistent organic pollutants (POPs). These POPs don’t just contaminate farmed species; they have been found in wild-caught species as well – though usually in much lower levels – making it important for both types of salmon to be eaten safely.
For these reasons–and in order to avoid other kinds of seafood borne illnesses–all types of seafood should always be cooked properly before you eat it. To remain healthy while still enjoying all the benefits that come from eating salmon –including Omega 3 fatty acids and high protein content–do your research and find a trustworthy source that you trust and turn away all kinds of raw or light cured meats or fish options like sushi.
How to Minimize Risks of Eating Salmon
Eating salmon can provide a number of health benefits, including providing essential Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. However, there are a few risks associated with eating salmon as well. This article will discuss how to minimize the risks of eating salmon, so that you can enjoy the health benefits without any negative effects.
Choose wild-caught salmon
When it comes to minimizing the risk of eating salmon, there are certain key guidelines that you should follow in order to get the maximum health benefit. The first and most important step is to only choose wild-caught salmon, as this will ensure that you are getting a fish with no hormones or antibiotics and thus reducing your risk of any potential health problems.
Wild-caught salmon also contains fewer contaminants such as PCBs, dioxins and other toxins because it has not been exposed to the same pollutants or fertilizers from farmed salmon. Wild-caught salmon contains higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce inflammation in the body and promote heart health. Additionally, wild-caught salmon offers more protein and vitamins than farm-raised salmon.
The best way to make sure that you are selecting wild-caught salmon is to:
- Look for a tag at your local grocery store, fish market or seafood restaurant that indicates “wild-caught” on the packaging or menu.
- Look for stores that label their fresh fish as “sustainably sourced” – meaning that they were caught in an environmentally responsible manner without depleting resources.
Choose sustainably-caught salmon
When shopping for salmon, look for brands labeled “sustainably caught” or “certified sustainable”. Fish with this label have been caught in ways that minimize their environmental impact, such as through the use of fishing gear that reduces bycatch and habitat damage.
You may also see labels like “wild-caught” or “farm-raised”, which can help you tell the difference between fish of different origins.
Avoiding farmed salmon is one of the best ways to reduce your risk of ingesting contaminants like PCBs, DDT, and dioxins while still enjoying this nutritious seafood. Farmed salmon are more likely to be contaminated with mercury as well because they consume food sources with higher levels of pollutants than wild-caught salmon. Additionally, farmed salmon are often artificially colored to make them a more desirable shade of pinkish-orange. This can leave lasting health effects in humans who consume them over time.
Buy from trusted sources
Whenever you buy salmon, you should ensure that it is purchased from a trusted source. If you can purchase your salmon from sources that are approved by the Sustainable Sushi Guide or the Environmental Defense Fund’s Seafood Selector then that is ideal. By opting for certified sources of seafood such as those listed above, your salmon will be from sources that adhere to the most stringent standards for practices related to sustainability, human health and animal rights. Additionally, these organizations have policies in place concerning where and how seafood is sourced.
You may also find sustainable seafood products at restaurants which certify their sourcing as well as some supermarkets. For example, Whole Foods has strict requirements about what type of criteria must be met before they will stock their shelves with fish. It may also be easier to find sustainably-sourced salmon if you live close to a fishing town near a body of water where they sell fresh catches directly like fishermen’s markets.
Alternatives to Eating Salmon
Many people enjoy eating salmon as part of their regular diet, but there are some aspects of eating salmon that can have negative consequences. Health concerns such as mercury levels, farmed salmon’s negative effect on wild stocks, and potential contaminants can all be issues when deciding whether or not to eat salmon. Fortunately, there are plenty of sustainable, delicious alternatives that can be enjoyed in its place.
Let’s explore some of those alternatives:
Other fish high in omega-3 fatty acids
Salmon is a popular type of fish that is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have significant health benefits. Unfortunately, due to overfishing and environmental concerns, many people are turning to other sources of these healthy fats. Luckily, there are other types of seafood with comparable levels of omega-3s.
Sardines are small fish, usually served in cans but also found fresh at markets and delis. Rich in protein, vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron, sardines also offer generous amounts of omega-3s. Mackarel and herring are two other types of smaller fish that provide good amounts of omega-3 fatty acids while remaining sustainable choices.
Other types of seafood to consider include oysters (high in zinc and iron) and mussels (rich in selenium). Crab meat is a versatile ingredient that can be served steamed or baked as part of a meal or added to salads or soups for additional flavor. Anchovies pack quite a punch – they’re small but offer flavor enhancers as well as healthy fats. Plus they’re easy because they come precooked!
Aside from fish, supplements known as fish oil capsules can help increase levels of omega 3s in the body if you find it too difficult to incorporate more seafood into your diet.
Plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids
For those looking for alternatives to salmon, plant-based sources of omega-3 fatty acids exist. Several leafy green vegetables, including spinach, kale and lettuce contain omega-3s in small amounts. Microalgae is also a source of bioavailable omega-3s, as are some fortified foods such as egg yolks and yogurt.
Chia seeds, flax seeds and pumpkins seeds can also be used to get your daily dose of omega 3s. Chia seeds are especially beneficial since they contain both alpha linoleic acid (ALA), which is the form in which plants provide us with omega-3 fats, plus the longer chain forms (EPA & DHA) found in fish oil supplements. Flaxseeds are an excellent plant source for alpha linoleic acid (ALA) but it cannot be converted to EPA & DHA in significant amounts by our bodies and therefore does not offer the same health benefits as fish oil or chia does.
Hemp hearts are also an excellent source of ALA and are becoming increasingly popular due to their nutty taste and ease of use – they can be mixed into smoothies or added to salads or other dishes without changing the flavor profile significantly. Walnuts contain high levels of ALA, too – making them a great alternative to salmon if you’re watching your cholesterol intake or trying out a plant-based diet!
If you want to increase your omega-3 intake but do not like eating salmon, using supplements is another option. A number of fish oil capsules are now available in the health food stores, with doses ranging from one capsule per day to as much as fifteen capsules per day. These pills should help increase your omega 3 levels with very little effort and minimal expense.
You can also get a higher dose of EPA and DHA directly by taking krill oil, which is made from crab-like creatures that are rich in essential fatty acids. Krill oil contains a much higher concentration of EPA and DHA than traditional fish oils, and it also contains other important nutrients and compounds that may be beneficial for health.
For people who do not like seafood or have difficulty digesting it, plant-derived omega-3 supplements are a good choice. These supplements are usually derived from flaxseeds or chia seeds, both of which contain alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an essential fatty acid that can be converted into EPA and DHA in the body if adequate amounts of nutrients are present. While ALA does not contain as high concentrations of EPA or DHA as fish oil, it can still provide beneficial effects when taken regularly.