Inspiring you to make healthy food and choices one step at a time

February 9, 2010

Why Wild Salmon?

We are blessed today to have Tom Mitchell, National and World’s 2007 NAS Strongman Champion, Masters Division (over 40 years old). He also speaks on nutrition internationally for JUS International and I am blessed to be married to this great guy. Since we eat a lot of salmon, I wanted you to know the benefits. So, without further ado, here he is…
Canned salmon is an interesting food. Some love it. Some hate it. Some don’t eat enough salmon to really know. Nevertheless, canned wild salmon is arguably the most important and beneficial meat that you can possibly eat.
Why is canned wild salmon good for you? Let me touch on just a few reasons.
1. It is wild as opposed to farmed (which changes the fatty acid profile dramatically for the good in the wild salmon).2. The wild salmon has eaten natural food sources as opposed to corn or wheat based food products; most of which are genetically modified.3. An incredible source of high quality protein4. Non-processed - a truly “wild” food source5. A good source of calcium and other minerals6. One of the very best sources of critically important omega-3 fatty acids – especially DHA and EPA7. Readily available and affordable, cooking is optional.
What is the most important benefit of canned wild salmon?
Without a doubt, the omega-3 content of wild salmon is an enormous benefit that cannot be overemphasized. By and large, most of the omega-3 content found in plant sources – flax, fruits, vegetables, hemp, etc. is primarily the omega-3 fatty acid called ALA. ALA, once consumed must be converted in the body to the far more critical fatty acids called EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, most people can only convert ALA to EPA/DHA at a rate of only 5 to 15%. As you can see, this type of conversion is very inefficient and requires a lot of additional eating which you may or may not want to do. (Just how much flax can you realistically eat every day?)
Why are EPA and DHA so important? To begin with, a large amount of your brain’s “dry” weight is omega-3 fatty acids, specifically DHA. This means that omega-3s are directly related to cognitive function and performance for you and your family. The old saying that fish is a “brain food” is very much true – provided it’s the right kind of fish. What’s the Bottom Line? A lack of omega-3s can reduce your ability to think quickly, clearly, and at a high level of understanding and comprehension. A number of studies have shown that children who eat plenty of omega-3s score better on tests and have improved attention spans. Other studies show increased memory and improved motor skills and coordination.
As we look for further benefits, we find that omega-3s are also incredibly important for cardiovascular health. They help keep your heart healthy and they promote better circulation.
Omega-3s also reduce inflammation in your body. This happens in part by bringing your balance of omega-3s to omega-6s in a healthier range. In America, we consume way too many omega-6s (vegetable oils, processed food, etc.) and a terribly low amount of omega-3s. The inevitable result is chronic inflammation which accelerates the aging process and the increased likelihood of aches and pains.
An interesting study, conducted by Nordic Naturals and world renowned Neurosurgeon Joseph Maroon, M.D., showed that by consuming omega-3s, many people, including professional athletes, reported the same pain relief as they would have found by taking NSAIDs (aspirin, ibuprofen…). Again, this gets back to the anti-inflammatory benefits mentioned above.
Let’s get back to our can of wild salmon. We are looking at 14 ounces of salmon for around $2.50. What do you get? A large amount of protein and minerals, and 7 grams of highly bio-available omega-3s (DHA and EPA) which do not need to be converted to be used.
How much salmon do you need to eat? For all practical purposes, the more the better! As a minimum, you should try and eat at least a half can every 3-4 days. Ideally, a half can a day would be hugely beneficial for most adults.
What about mercury? Wild salmon is a better bet than most other fresh and saltwater choices. If given the choice between salmon and tuna, salmon wins every time. As a matter of fact, if given a choice, I would choose and recommend wild salmon over any other meat source that I know of.
What are other omega-3 fish choices? Sardines, Herring and Mackerel are some of the better ones.
What about fish oil capsules? They are a good choice provided you get a very high quality product. If you go this route, try to get enteric coated capsules to get around the common fish taste burps you get with the cheaper supplements.
Hey, what if you’re a vegetarian and fish and/or fish oil capsules aren’t an option? Your best solution will be to eat the highest quality plant-based sources of omega-3s you can find – hemp, flax, and blue-green algae come to mind. Or, just purchase the highest quality vegetarian omega-3 formula you can find.
In summary, unless you’re a strict vegetarian, eat your canned salmon, the more the better. Stay away from salmon fillets or salmon in a restaurant unless you are 100% sure it is wild, not farm-raised. Better brain function, a healthy heart, reduced pain and inflammation, there really isn’t a downside.
Stay tuned, as I’m sure Laurie will post a few delicious and healthy ways to eat more salmon. Enjoy!

Look up the label “Salmon” for recipes.


Unknown said...

I didn't realize I could get the benefits from canned salmon, we had always just looked at fresh and that can be expensive and less convenient. Thanks for the info.

Laurie said...

Yes, just be sure to adjust the salt in whatever recipe you use. It's a great "fast food". :)

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