Salmon can be an awesome source of protein that includes healthy fats our bodies need. It's rich in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids which are both essential fatty acids that our bodies are unable to produce on their own. But did you know the way salmon is raised can have a substantial effect on the fish's nutritional quality?
There are two different ways salmon can be bought: farmed raised salmon and wild salmon. Farm raised salmon is the commercial way of producing salmon. According to CNN Diet and Fitness Expert Dr. Melina Jampolis, farm raised salmon takes place on a "fish farm" consisting of small, cramped pens in the ocean. The fish on these farms are fed fishmeal which can be filled with conventionally grown crops that contain pesticides, herbicides and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The tight quarters the fish are bred in can increase the risk of disease. In order to prevent these diseases, the fish are fed a number of different antibiotics which can be transferred to you through consumption.
Wild salmon is caught in its natural habitat, where they are free to roam in open waters and able to find their own food in a natural environment. Having a natural diet allows wild caught salmon to be pesticide, antibiotic, herbicide and PCB-free. Wild salmon does not contain as high levels of Omega-3 as farm raised salmon because the open waters allow the fish to burn more fat.
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Dr. Jampolis estimates that eating farmed salmon more than once a week can be harmful to your health, but anything less than that is not bad for you. Both types of salmon's health benefits greatly outweigh the risks involved. In fact, you consume more chemicals from products like bread and chicken than from salmon. However, fish farms do pose an environmental problem. To produce one farmed salmon, you have to feed it more than its weight in smaller fish, which leads to a wide loss of fish and potential ecosystem disruption.
Experts say to eat smaller fish to reduce your risk of contamination. Smaller fish like mackerel, anchovies and sardines have shorter life expectancies than larger fish and therefore less time to pick up any toxins. Cutting the skin and fat in your salmon can also lower your risk of contamination, because that's where the toxins are stored.
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Fresh wild salmon can be more expensive than farm raised salmon, but worth it if you want to avoid pesticide and antibiotic filled fish. However, canned wild salmon is cheaper than farmed salmon. However you choose to eat your fish, make sure you get a wide variety of it for best nutritional value.