Everybody knows that fish is good for you, but salmon in particular has excellent health benefits. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids which help protect against heart disease, salmon really is a super food. But wild salmon, as opposed to farmed fish gives further benefits since it is fresher and has lower mercury levels.
Fish is good for you
Most of the salmon that we eat comes from fish farms - although tinned salmon is mostly wild - but several independent studies have found concentrations of contaminants at levels of up to ten times higher in farmed salmon. In Europe, there have even been situations where farmed fished tested at high levels of heavy metals such as lead and cadmium.
These contaminants seem to be getting to the fish through the feed, which become concentrated in the oil of the salmon. Smoked Scottish salmon and wild Alaska salmon are probably the most common types of fish that you can pick up at the supermarket and given that we are forever being told to buy smoked salmon as it is so good for us, you want to know that you are getting the best piece of fish available to you.
Which is why it is best to opt for the healthiest fish - the wild variety.
Importance of Omega-3 fats
Omega-3 fats seem to primarily work through reducing inflammation in our bodies.
Inflammation is turning out to be at the base of many health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, some types of cancers and arthritis. Also, studies have shown that people who have sufficient levels of omega-3’s seem to have less depression and suicide risk, as well as less aggression - in one study, giving prison inmates this type of fat (plus vitamins) reduced aggressive behaviour by a third in a mere two weeks. Farmed fish is fattier which means that there are higher levels of omega-3 fats. But it is not all good news. Because of the contaminants, it is often recommended that farmed salmon be cooked in ways that reduce the fat content. New feeds are being developed with less fish meal in them and more plant foods.
In general, the more plant-based ingredients, the lower the level of omega-3 fats in the salmon. (Note that in the sea, salmon are carnivores.)
Even today, the percentage of omega-3 fats is lower in farmed salmon, because of the ingredients used as the feed for the farmed fish.