Yes, salmon is one of the all-star foods that we are just head over heels in love with here at Good Decisions. It is one of the few foods that is incredibly rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids which is a game changer for anyone who suffers from joint pain, heart problems or even cancer. Salmon is also loaded with vitamin D, vitamin B-12, antioxidants and a whole boatload of other nutrients. This fish truly is a dream come true.
Salmon Prevents Heart Disease!
Omega-3s are absolutely incredible for heart health. One wild-caught, four ounce piece of salmon contains over 50% of our daily need for this polyunsaturated fat. A recent study showed that eating salmon can actually decrease blood pressure, triglycerides and the "bad" (LDL) cholesterol [IV]. This points to an incredible ability to significantly decrease one's risk of heart disease. The Omega-3s also work to maintain flexibility of the arteries and strengthen cardiac muscles, which might also reduce a chance of heart attack.
Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to improve memory and brain functioning and thus can help to treat Alzheimer's disease [III]. In addition, the amino acids, selenium, vitamin A and vitamin D within salmon help to protect the nervous system as it ages. Not to mention the high amount of vitamin B-12 that helps to produce energy. Sounds better than a brain-teasing sudoku puzzle to me!
Strengthen Your Bones
Salmon is one of the few foods that contains a high level of the sunshine nutrient, vitamin D. Without vitamin D, our bodies cannot properly absorb and utilize calcium to maintain and strengthen our bone structure.
Inflammation also takes a toll on our bones, thus the omega-3s in salmon, that work to decrease inflammation, support our bones as well.
Wipe Out Cancer
Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon have been shown to literally reduce the size of cancer tumors, and even limit the negative side effects of chemotherapy [I]. Wow. There are numerous other studies that have also been done, showing that they can have a profound effect on many different types of cancer cells and help to prevent them to begin with. Who knew a type of fat could be so powerfully healing.
Now before you run out and buy all the salmon that you can get your hands on, there are a few very important things that you need to be aware of...
Not All Salmon is Created Equal
Salmon is absolutely a superfood....until it's not. I hate to burst your bubble, but a lot of the salmon on the market today is highly toxic. Most of this salmon is "farmed" and is fed an unnatural diet of pellets that often contains genetically modified corn and soy. They also typically contain antibiotics and artificial coloring.
In addition to what these salmon are fed, environmental toxins also appear to be greater in farm-raised over wild salmon. A recent study, sponsored by the Pew Charitable Trusts found concentrations of several contaminants such as PCB's, Dioxins, Toxaphene and Dieldrin to be significantly higher in farmed salmon [II]. These toxins are associated with serious health risks from neurological effects, to cancer. This is likely found in these farmed fish because they are raised along shorelines and more populated areas, vulnerable to human pollution and toxic run-off.
Farmed salmon must also be regularly bathed to keep down infestations of sea lice. Being that they have such little room to move around, body chaffing can create skin lesions, which can contribute to disease and infection. Yuck!
I hope I haven't turned your stomach enough to write-off salmon now, because the wild fish, when caught in their natural habitat are the pots of gold! Wild salmon is bright pink-orange and in its natural environment feeds on plankton, insects, larvae, and occasionally other small fish. They have a great deal of room between each other and so any waste created by wild salmon is diluted, unlike the farmed variety. Wild salmon are very active because they must constantly seek out food, resulting in firmer, less fatty flesh. They also have a much greater ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids.
It is these happy little fish that contain all of the above nutrition! So now that you know the truth, it really makes all the difference in the world to pay a few extra dollars to purchase only wild-caught salmon.
My Favorite Ways to Eat Salmon
Let's be straight. I'll eat salmon raw, steamed, seared, baked, smoked and grilled...and I will love it! One of my all-time favorites is Seared Salmon with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce. It's also delicious baked when topped with honey mustard and chopped walnuts, mmmm. When I can get a fresh-caught piece from a local fish market, I just throw it on the grill with maybe a dash or salt and pepper and it's fabulous... how it forms that crispy, crunchy layer on the outside, wowza!
Have you ever tried salmon with eggs before? Poached Egg Salad with Smoked Salmon, Cherry Tomatoes and Pesto is a total winner, as are eggs with Smoked Salmon and Asparagus.
No matter what way you choose to eat it, you are in for a nutritional treat. I think I've made it pretty darn clear why we are so madly in love with this fish, right?
In what ways has incorporating salmon in your diet helped you?
[I] Cell Division. "Omega-3 Kills Cancer Cells." ScienceDaily, 5 April 2009. Web. July. 2016.<www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090401200441.htm>.
[II] Hites RA, Foran JA, Carpenter DO, Hamilton MC, Knuth BA, Schwager SJ. "Global assessment of organic contaminants in farmed salmon." Science. 2004 Jan 9;303(5655):226-9. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14716013>.
[III] Hooijmans CR, Pasker-de Jong PC, de Vries RB, Ritskes-Hoitinga M. "The effects of long-term omega-3 fatty acid supplementation on cognition and Alzheimer's pathology in animal models of Alzheimer's disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis." J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;28(1):191-209. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22002791>.
[IV] Lara JJ, Economou M, Wallace AM, Rumley A, Lowe G, Slater C, Caslake M, Sattar N, Lean ME. "Benefits of salmon eating on traditional and novel vascular risk factors in young, non-obese healthy subjects." Atherosclerosis. 2007 Jul;193(1):213-21. Epub 2006 Oct 27. Web. July. 2016. <http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17069820>.