The Awesome Health Benefits of Salmon Explained | The Manual

A tasty and versatile fish, salmon’s popularity is undeniable. Delicious either raw in sashimi or grilled, this oily fish is also extremely healthy. Packed with protein and Omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is one of the best foods for a healthy diet. From sustainably farmed Atlantic salmon to wild-caught Pacific sockeye salmon, there are plenty of options for the health-conscious consumer looking to add more salmon to their diet.

Kvaroy arctic salmon fillets

The nutritional benefits of salmon

According to registered dietitian Anna Brown of the blog squeezed nutrition, salmon is a powerful combination of low saturated fat and high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are critical heart health factors. As a bonus, omega-3 acids are also anti-inflammatory and great for brain development. Salmon is considered a fatty fish and contains much more omega-3 acids than other types of fish such as sole, sea bass and cod. While these fish are healthy, they don’t contain the same level of omega-3s as salmon.

Kvaroy smoked salmon in a package and two plates.
Kvaroy Arctic Smoked Salmon

But not all salmon fillets are created equal. Salmon nutrition can vary depending on the species and whether it is wild or farmed. The main issues for both farmed and wild salmon are their diet and sustainability. Consumption of farmed salmon has accelerated in recent decades as demand for the fish has increased. However, the level of omega-3 in farmed salmon will depend on the feed, a combination of grains, fishmeal and plants. Due to their natural diet, wild salmon may have higher ratios of omega-3s along with higher calcium levels and iron Nutritionally, recent studies Pacific sockeye and Chinook salmon have been shown to be the most nutritious, although farmed Atlantic salmon is also an excellent choice due to low mercury content and availability. The vast majority of Atlantic salmon will be farmed, while Pacific salmon such as coho or king will vary by year.

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As for high-quality farmed Atlantic salmon, there are several sustainable salmon farms that produce fish with excellent levels of nutrition. An example of such a farm is Kvarøy Arctic, a third generation family farm in Norway. According to Kvarøy, their farmed salmon contains twice the omega-3s compared to wild-caught coho salmon. Additionally, some studies also claim that certified sustainably farmed salmon is better for the environment due to lower levels of mercury and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) compared to wild salmon.

Cooked Salmon vs Raw Salmon

According to Anna Brown, the biggest nutritional difference between raw and cooked salmon is the added ingredients. Since cooked salmon usually has added fats like oil or butter, and sometimes ingredients like sugar or herbs, this can affect the nutritional results. However, that doesn’t mean these added ingredients are negative.

“While these extra ingredients add a negligible amount of calories or fat, they can add a ton of great flavor, so there’s no need to fear cooked salmon, just be aware of the ingredients the recipe calls for,” Brown said.

The best thing about cooking salmon is the endless variety of techniques and recipes. For Brown, he prefers a simple technique: bake the fish in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. As a bonus, baking salmon also keeps the house from smelling fishy, ​​a side effect of stovetop searing. For seasoning, ingredients can be as simple as olive oil, salt, pepper, and a mix of herbs (herbs de provence it’s great). Another way to consume salmon is to use as much fish as possible. By consuming only the fillets, parts of the salmon, such as skin and trimmings, are wasted. To maximize yield, use salmon bones to make fish stock and grill the collars with sea salt and a squeeze of lemon for a delicious main course. At Kvarøy Arctic, they use their salmon trimmings for burgers and hotdogs. Not only is it a sustainable way to enjoy salmon, it also provides additional nutrition.

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When it comes to raw salmon, a high quality, properly sourced fish is perfectly nutritious to eat raw. One thing to pay attention to regarding raw salmon is the increased risk of foodborne illnesses and parasites. These problems can be a result of the salmon’s environment or something that picks up during shipping and handling. To avoid this, simply cook your salmon to an internal temperature of 145 degrees F. But if you insist on eating your salmon raw, the best way to avoid any problems is to get high-quality fish.

Salmon Sustainability

Kvarøy Arctic Farm in Norway under the Northern Lights.
Kvarøy arctic farm in Norway

Like any seafood, salmon is subject to sustainability issues. Due to overfishing and environmental damage, many fish species are in danger of overconsumption. This question of balancing health benefits of fish with sustainability is essential according to Jennifer Bushman, director of development for Kvarøy Arctic.

“The importance of ocean food production systems in our future food and nutrition security is critical to our future,” Bushamn said. “The effort represents a double message of urgency and hope. Through smarter management of wild fisheries and sustainable development of marine aquaculture (mariculture), the ocean could supply more than six times more food than it does today, while helping to restore healthy ocean ecosystems.”

For sustainable salmon farm like Kvarøy, this means a combination of sustainable feeding, innovative techniques like Stingray lasers (to kill lice and pests on salmon) and integrated multi-trophic aquaculture. This form of aquaculture is a system in which fish are farmed alongside shellfish and seaweed, increasing the health of the system and sequestering carbon. For more sustainable seafood options, check out the Monterey Bay Aquarium Shellfish Viewing. This guide will provide valuable details on which species to enjoy and which to avoid, along with information on fisheries and farms.

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