5 Things You Need to Know About the Health Benefits of Salmon

by Contributor

Salmon steaks on a cutting board with fresh basil and peppercorns.

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Extra Healthy Fish

Fish and seafood are healthy additions to a well-balanced diet, and salmon is one of the most nutritious fish out there. Salmon is high in protein and low in calories and saturated fat. Salmon is also a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which offers a wide range of health benefits. Salmon is very versatile and lends itself well to a variety of recipes and spice combinations. It has a mild, tender taste, and many people who don't like other fish enjoy salmon.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Salmon is packed full of omega-3 fatty acids, which gives your cardiovascular health a huge boost. Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent arrhythmia and the formation of dangerous blood clots in the arteries, lower your triglycerides levels, improve blood flow and reduce your risk of heart attack or stroke. Omega-3's anti-clotting and anti-inflammatory effects also help the brain work better, improving your mental health and cognitive function, and may help relieve or prevent depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer's and other illnesses. Studies have shown that eating salmon or other cold-water fish twice a week will significantly raise your body's omega-3 levels, and can have a noticeable effect on your cardiovascular and cognitive health. Other sources of omega-3 fatty acids include flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and hemp seeds.

Vitamins and Minerals

There's more to salmon than omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is an excellent source of selenium, a trace mineral that serves as a powerful antioxidant, protecting your body from the damaging effects of free radicals, which can damage cells and leave them vulnerable to cancer, infection or other disease. Salmon also contains high levels of B vitamins, particularly B3 (niacin) and B12 (cobalamin). B vitamins are vital for a healthy metabolism and good mental health.

Healthy Protein

Salmon is a great source of lean protein. It is lower in fat and calories than poultry, beef or pork, and is also lower in cholesterol. The protein in salmon contains all the essential amino acids, and is very digestible. A 4-oz. serving of salmon will provide you with nearly 30 gm of protein--more than half the daily recommended amount.

Wild vs. Farmed

Farming salmon has made this nutritious food available all year round, but this convenience comes at a price. Farmed salmon are raised in overcrowded conditions which require the use of pesticides, antibiotics and other dangerous chemicals that accumulate in their flesh and pollute the environment. The low quality of feed and poor living conditions of farmed salmon also lower the nutritional value of the meat--farmed salmon is lower in omega-3s and protein and higher in fat than wild-caught salmon--and farmed salmon is often dyed pink to appear more "healthy." Farmed salmon is the result of interbreeding and possible genetic manipulation, which threatens the health and population levels of wild salmon. When buying salmon, the healthiest and most ecologically-sound choice is wild-caught salmon.

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