Due to it’s promising anti-inflammatory response in the body, the health world seems to be obsessed with the Omega fatty acid, Omega-3. Because of this, Salmon has taken the center stage as the “good fat” fish, and salmon sales have soared.
What they tend to leave out of this equation though, is the other side of the story. While wild salmon is highly anti-inflammatory (that is a good thing), farm- raised salmon is the exact opposite. Farm-raised salmon is highly inflammatory (i.e. causes inflammation). In fact, you are better off avoiding farmed salmon.
Inflammation is both a natural and necessary part of the body’s defense. Inflammation has its purpose. If you have ever knocked into something hard, it can be quite unbelievable at how quick your body responds by swelling, and giving you a lovely welt to show for it.
However, excessive inflammation is all too common. Those that suffer from allergies, asthma, and arthritis, are already aware of the unpleasantries of excessive inflammation. From premature wrinkles, to heart disease, inflammation can affect everything.
What does this have to do with salmon?
Our body responds to the foods we eat by either creating an inflammatory effect (bad) or an anti-inflammatory effect (good) in the body. While, Omega-3 fatty acids create an anti-inflammatory reaction in the body, Omega-6 fatty acids create an inflammatory reaction. (You don’t see supplements touting their Omega-6 amounts– but you do see them bragging about their levels of Omega-3s).
Why is this important?
Farm-raised salmon are fed cereal grains, soy and corn (and sometimes poultry litter and hydrolyzed chicken feathers), whereas, wild salmon enjoy a natural diet rich in algae and shrimp. Regardless of the fact that Nature did not intend for salmon to be crammed into crowded pens, and showered with antibiotics, and pesticides… cereal grains, soy, and corn are all predominately high in Omega-6. Although a farm-raised salmon will still contain Omega-3, the Omega-6’s far outweigh the Omega-3’s, and cause inflammation in the body.
If wild salmon is not an option, organically, farm-raised salmon, and/or high-quality (antibiotic free) salmon, from a trusted grocer, like Whole Foods, is the better alternative. Regardless, of whether it is organically raised, salmon fed organic cereal grains, and organic soy, are still high/higher in Omega-6, than Omega-3.
What can you do? Reduce your farmed salmon consumption and start to see health improvements. Wild Salmon, although more pricey, (and when in season), is loaded in Omega-3, and well worth the wait, price, and taste. Really need salmon now? Wild salmon can be found in most health markets, in cans for around $4, or hit up Whole Foods, and read about their farmed raised fish.
Quality is Key!
If you are going to buy the canned stuff, look for the brands of wild salmon that do not contain additives. Artic Char is also available seasonally at Whole Foods, and tastes similar to salmon (without the inflammation, or inflated price).
Always make sure you are purchasing your fish from a quality grocer. Your local market may be selling their tilapia for $2.00 less, a pound, but if that tilapia/salmon/flounder is being fed antibiotics, hydrolyzed chicken feathers, and poultry, well you better believe that what they eat, effects what you eat.
What is your favorite fish? Were you aware what some farmed fish are fed? Will knowing this information change the way you look at fish, in the market?