Salmon is a delicious fatty-fish that’s high in omega 3 fatty acids.
It’s extremely nutritious, full of healthy fats, protein and best of all, salmon is easy to digest, being light on your stomach unlike some oily fish which can feel a bit, well “oily” for lack of a better description! It’s also a sustainable fish, which means that the species can cope with the demands and strain put on it by high volume fishing. It’s always good to know we’re not harming the environment with our eating habits.
It has a whole range of benefits, most of them due to the omega 3 in the salmon. One of the little-known pros of eating salmon is that it actually helps to protect your eyes. If you’ve ever had dry eyes then adding some salmon into your diet 2 to 3 times per week can help to make them more moist. It even helps protect against macular degeneration which is something that can affect us as we get older.
We all want to look as well as feel great and the omega 3 in salmon is the perfect type of healthy fat for keeping your skin soft, supple and nourished, as well as giving your hair that healthy shine. Skin conditions such as psoriasis can even be helped with regular consumption of salmon.
Omega 3: The Magic Ingredient
What makes oily fish like salmon so good for you is the high omega 3 content. Omega 3’s are a type of polyunsaturated fat which is one of the good fats we should eat. You’ve probably seen terms like EPA, DHA and ALA being thrown around when people have been discussing omega 3, but what do they really mean and which ones does your body really need?
EPA, DHA and ALA are all types of omega 3 fatty acids. They all play an important role in your health. However, DHA and EPA are the most important of the two. Fats make up around 50% of our brain, with omega 3 DHA accounting for 30% of all brain matter. They’re also abundant in the retina which is why eating oily fish helps your vision.
We get EPA and DHA from fish, more specifically oily fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, herring, mackerel, anchovies and trout. ALA on the other hand comes from plant sources like flax seeds, avocados, hemp seeds and chia seeds.
The body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA, but the process requires vitamins and minerals such as B6, magnesium and zinc. There’s also other factors that can disrupt the conversion process, so even though we can survive completely off a plant based diet, it isn’t recommended. A combination of plant sources and fish gives us a complete, healthy omega 3 solution.
The benefits of omega 3 are numerous.. from reducing aggression, anxiety and depression to reducing cognitive decline and improving our vision. It’s a vital ingredient for a healthy body and brain.
Essential Vitamins & Minerals in Salmon
Salmon also contains a lot of other vitamins and minerals that are essential for your health.
One of the most abundant in salmon is selenium, which is responsible for keeping your thyroid working properly and helps to boost your immune system. You’ll get 80% of your RDA of selenium from salmon.
Salmon is also a good source of phosphorus, which when combined with calcium helps to strengthen your bones and teeth. It also plays a key role in the functioning of your kidneys, nerves and heart. You’ll get almost half your RDA of phosphorus from your portion of salmon.
You’ll also get vitamin B12, niacin, vitamin B6, choline and vitamin D from salmon. Vitamin D is very important and we get most of it from the sun, but if you’re not getting enough sun then salmon is a good way to keep your vitamin D levels up.
Farmed vs Wild: Which is best
Salmon comes in two forms. Farmed and wild. Around half of all salmon on the market today comes from fish farms.
The problem with farmed fish is that they don’t get a high quality natural diet. They consume soy and corn based fish feed since it’s cheap and easier to mass produce. This means that farmed fish won’t be as healthy as their wild counterparts. They’re less nutrient dense and crucially the farmed salmon contain less omega 3 than wild salmon. None of this is to say that farmed salmon is inherently bad for you, just that they’re not as good as wild salmon.
Farmed salmon are actually a much paler color of pink and need to be injected with a coloring called canthaxanthin in order to give them the vibrant salmon-pink color you would find on a wild salmon. This ingredient doesn’t need to be listed on the packaging label either. Fortunately you can tell if your salmon is wild by looking for other signs on the packaging such as “Alaskan salmon”, “wild salmon” etc. But be aware that if the salmon is listed as Atlantic salmon then it’s actually farmed salmon. Atlantic salmon is an endangered species and can’t be caught commercially, so any Atlantic salmon in the shops is a farmed salmon of the Atlantic variety.
So if you can, do try to get wild salmon and enjoy this delicious healthy fish 2 to 3 times per week. I recommend poaching your salmon. Poached salmon is soft, moist and melts in your mouth. You can also bake it in the oven if you prefer your fish a little more dry and crisp. I don’t recommend frying, as it’s unhealthy and tends to spoil the fish by burning it.
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