Can Salmon Be Unhealthy?

fishy2.jpgWhile it may be hard to imagine that there are actually types of salmon that are not so healthy for you, a recent story I wrote for Her Active Life helped me to discover otherwise. I actually always buy wild salmon because I have heard things about farm-raised fish that has made me think twice before purchasing it. But this story really reaffirmed the reasons why wild is better for you. Read on before your next shopping trip, and try the recipe — it is soooooooo good!

Fresh Versus Farmed Salmon: A Fishy Debate

The benefits of salmon and its omega-3 fatty acids have been long touted by health experts around the globe who claim the fish has near supernatural powers, including anti-aging and does-your-body-good advantages.

But the thing that many health enthusiasts may be missing out on is the fact that not all salmon has been swimming down the same nutrient-filled waters. In fact, many have been fluttering their fins in quite the opposite direction.

“Most of the salmon sold in the United States today is farm-raised,” says Monica Reinagel, chief nutritionist for “And as the salmon industry has boomed, farmers have begun to look for ways to cut costs.”salmon.jpg

Reinagel said one way farmers have begun to try to save money is by using a cheaper feed made from vegetable oils instead of a more expensive fish oil-based feed.

“As you might expect, the quality of the food that salmon eat affects the quality of the resulting product,” said Reinagel, who is also the author of The ND Blog: Notes From the Nutritionista.

But let’s get one thing straight: There are several reasons why one should eat salmon. For example, research has shown that the fatty acids in this fish help to strengthen the immune system, fortify your heart, brain and joints, improve eyesight and mental health, and even help to erase signs of aging, such as wrinkles and crow’s feet.

And, according to an article published in the March/April issue of Eating Well, “These pluses have helped inspire Americans to more than triple their consumption of fresh and frozen salmon in the last 15 years, from 50,000 metric tons in 1990 to 180,000 in 2004. The only fish we eat more of are shrimp and canned tuna.”

But the problem, Reinagel said, lies in the fact that almost all Atlantic salmon sold in North America comes from farms.

“Recently, some Norwegian scientists set out to measure the effects of different feeds on the nutritional composition of the fish,” Reinagel said in a February 2006 article. “Not surprisingly, they found that the fish fed vegetable oils had a much less favorable fatty acid composition than the salmon that consumed only fish oils. Taking the analysis one step further, they found that heart disease patients that ate the vegetable-oil fed salmon did not show the same cardiovascular improvements as patients who ate fish-oil fed salmon.”

fish.jpgSo, what’s a lover of the pretty pink fish to do?

Reinagel said, as the Norweigan scientists discovered, farm-raised salmon fits the bill, but only if it has been eating a 100 percent fish-oil based diet. But since that is a near-impossible factor to figure out when you are shopping at the local market, Reinagel says one should choose wild-caught salmon in order to reap the maximum anti-aging and disease prevention benefits.

Want to get your wild salmon cooking now? Check out this fabulous Salmon Burgers with Green Goddess Sauce recipe from Eating Well – they are yummy!



Filed under Eat, March 2008

6 responses to “Can Salmon Be Unhealthy?

  1. Heidi

    I’m definitely going to try the salmon burger recipe. Thanks so much Caroline. I love your blog. I’ve showed it to some people at work and now my boss is a regular reader.

  2. Caroline

    Heidi — It is very yummy! I am so glad you like the blog, and thank you so much for sharing it! You are the best.

  3. Amanda

    Those salmon burgers do sound yummy… and easy. Thanks for the recipe! 🙂

  4. Jack

    Interesting to note that detractors from fish farming generally point to the non-sustainable ratio of wild fish (at best 1.75 wild to 1 farmed, at worst 3 wild to 1 farmed) it takes to produce fish oil based feed.

    Reasonable and knowledgable ENGO’s that have actually been working with farmers to improve the negative environmental impacts of fish farming cite this as the one problem that will never go away no matter how careful the industry (which is a huge and growing corporate juggernaught globally now) gets.

    Yes, the industry is looking at vegetable based feed and that is applauded by detractors; but the whole concept of trying to raise a magnificent ocean roaming and powerful predator in cages and produce the same quality of food for humans is a pipedream.

    It’s like trying to raise tigers by feeding them wild giselles at a ratio of two pounds of giselle to produce one pound of marketable tiger.

  5. Caroline

    Jack — Interesting point. And definitely one to take into consideration. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for reading. I love hearing feedback from readers like you.

  6. Tom

    no Fish is Healthy -We are herbivores !!
    for more go to and

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