When was the last time you have consumed salmon?
Salmon is tasty and is rich in several important nutrients. You can cook it easily or consume it raw if it is high quality salmon.
That is why you need to buy the good stuff because not all salmon is healthy. The salmon’s fatness, nutrient profile and flavor is linked with where and how it was raised.
The salmon’s color can say a lot about its quality. So the one on the left is wild-caught Alaskan sockeye and the one on the right is farmed.
The sockeye is robust with red color like it should be. On the other hand the farmed one is pale from which we can say that it was a sick fish.
The color difference is due to astaxanthin which is a bright red molecule found in plankton, krill and algae. Astaxanthin:
- Potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.
- Enhances mitochondrial energy production.
- Improves blood flow.
- Protects your mitochondria as it strengthens their cell membranes keeping out damaging oxygen species.
According to one study, it increases strength endurance by more than 50% when used as a supplement,. The study was sponsored by an astaxanthin supplement company.
Wild salmon contains a lot of astaxanthin due to their diet- particularly sockeye salmon as it consumes astaxanthin-rich plankton. Farmed salmons consume food pellets that don’t contain natural astaxanthin, but the farmers give them a synthetic version. This version usually comes from petrochemicals like coal and is quite different from natural astaxanthin.
The farmed salmon also consumes food which is at risk for dioxin and mercury contamination. Recently farmers are trying to reduce the heavy metal contamination by replacing the fish meal with corn and soy protein. Unfortunately the fish don’t like soy and corn so the meat quality is lowered. That is why farmers need to use antibiotics to keep them healthy which end up in your body when you consume them. The vegetable oils also reduce the omega- 3 fat content in salmon meat and can contaminate the salmon with mold toxins.
Note: Do not eat farmed salmon. Stick to wild-caught varieties.
Mercury content in salmon
The good news is that the FDA and EPA have both been studying mercury content in fish and they have found that the wild-caught salmon doesn’t contain mercury. So you can consume it several times a week.
Here are some of the most nutritious types of wild salmon to look for:
Sockeye Salmon – This type of salmon contains the most astaxanthin, cholesterol, and vitamin D because sockeyes keep a diet of almost exclusively plankton. They are tough to farm due to their unusual eating habits, so this type of salmon is almost always wild. Sockeye salmon is high in Omega-3s and has a strong flavor, so it is great smoked.
Chinook (King) Salmon – This type of salmon contains almost twice as many omega-3’s than any other salmon. They live in cold, deep water and the extra omega-3’s stay liquid in their system to keep them warm. King salmon are the largest salmon in the world and can grow to well over 100 pounds. They are very versatile from a cooking standpoint, but grilling, slow barbecuing or smoking are popular choices.
Pacific Coho Salmon – Coho has the third-highest fat content of salmon, along with a great amount of vitamin D and Omega-3s. It has a very delicate flavor, so some prefer to poach it to keep it moist, or use it for sushi.
Wild salmon is worth every penny. There are so many cooking options, and buying it wild ensures that you are getting all of the amazing nutritious benefits it has to offer. Check out this super-simple way to season and cook your salmon.