Salmon: 11 Amazing Benefits That You Must Know About Today!

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By Scott St. James, AGNP-BC

I want to tell you my story about Salmon. How I discovered it and came to really love it!

Right outside of the shop I worked at in Alaska was a creek named Ship Creek. It’s a river that flows from the Chugach Mountains to Cook Inlet. After work, some of us would go fishing. That’s where I had my first taste of wild caught Salmon. We took it to a friend’s house and cooked it on the grill with only salt, pepper, butter, and onion. It was one of the best dishes I had ever eaten. I still love to eat salmon to this day. I’ve done some research that will benefit both of us.

So, how about you?

Are you frustrated looking for healthy foods, fish or otherwise, that taste good? Have you tried all of the “healthy, low fat, low carb, and low whatever” alternatives only to find out that none of them taste good or are helping you lose weight?

I think it’s safe to say, we’ve all been there. How about you?

It seems like nowadays you need to make a choice between food that is healthy for you but doesn’t taste so good or food that tastes great but is really bad for you. Anyone agree? What if I told you that these are not the only two choices.

I’ll ask you are you curious to know what they are and how they can benefit you to improve your health and life? And yes, sometimes finding healthy food alternatives is hard, but not impossible.

And if you have looked for and are struggling to find some of these “superfoods”? Well, read on to learn more about one of the best overall, salmon. One of the most highly consumed superfoods. Even if you’re well versed in superfoods read this post. It can only help you.

We’re going to list some “superfoods” that are both good for your health and taste great! This is the first part in a 3 part series about Superfoods.

Superfoods…What Are They?

Merriam Webster dictionary defines Superfoods as, “a food (such as salmon, beans, or blueberries) that is rich in compounds (such as antioxidants, fiber, or fatty acids) considered beneficial to a person’s health.”

In part one of our series we are going to look at:

 Salmon:

Some of the benefits of salmon are(1),

  • Rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Salmon is one of the best sources of the long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA.
  • Great Source of Protein.
  • High in B Vitamins.
  • Good Source of Potassium.
  • Loaded With Selenium.

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    So Many Amazing Benefits
  • Contains the Antioxidant Astaxanthin. Merriam Webster defines Astaxanthin as, “carotenoid pigment C40H52O4 found in red- or pink-colored aquatic organisms (such as shrimp, lobster, and salmon) and the feathers of some birds that is used especially as a food coloring and dietary supplement.”
  • May Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease.
  • May Benefit Weight Control.
  • Can Help Fight Inflammation
  • May Protect Brain Health
  • Delicious And Versatile

Let’s take an in-depth look at each one of these benefits so you can get the most out of each one.

Long-chain omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA

Fish with the highest omega-3 content are salmon, tuna steaks, mackerel, herring, trout, anchovies, and sardines. (2b) EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) (2) has been linked to promising results in prevention, weight management, and cognitive function in those with very mild Alzheimer’s disease. (2a)

A 3-ounce serving of fresh or frozen salmon provides 1.1 to 1.9 g total omega-3, according to the AHA.(2b)

Now, I’m not sure if you can pronounce those words above or not. I know I have some difficulty with it. Am I right? What matters though is that we start incorporating these key nutrients into our diets. The health benefits are obvious. It’s never too late to start choosing a healthy diet and adopting a healthy lifestyle. You could start by incorporating just one new healthy element per week into your life. You’ll be glad you did.

Click here to check current price on Omega 3 fish oil on Amazon.

Protein

Your body uses protein to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. Protein is also an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood. Cooked wild chinook, chum, and coho salmon provide 22 to 23 grams of protein per 3-ounce serving,) (3)  

Click here to check current price on protein powder on Amazon.

The DRI (Dietary Reference Intake) is 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight or 0.36 grams per pound. This amounts to 56 grams per day for the average sedentary man. 46 grams per day for the average sedentary woman(3a)

Please note that these requirements are for sedentary men and women. Your protein requirements may vary depending on many factors such as age, weight loss goal, or intent to gain muscle.

B vitamins

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Boosts Your Immune System

B vitamins help prevent infections and help support or promote cell health, the growth of red blood cells, energy levels, good eyesight, healthy brain function, good digestion, healthy appetite, proper nerve function, hormones and cholesterol production, cardiovascular health, and muscle tone. (4)

A 3 oz. serving of cooked salmon contains 4.9 mcg. (4a)

 

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Potassium

A high potassium intake reduces the risk of overall mortality by 20 percent. It also decreases the risk of stroke, lowers blood pressure, protects against loss of muscle mass, preserves bone mineral density, and reduces the formation of kidney stones. The primary functions of potassium in the body include: regulating fluid balance and controlling the electrical activity of the heart and other muscles (5)

There are 309 mg of potassium in a 3 ounce serving of raw Atlantic salmon. (5a)

 

Click here to check current price of potassium supplements on Amazon.

Selenium

Acts as a powerful antioxidant, may reduce the risk of certain cancers, may protect against heart disease, helps prevent mental decline and improve memory loss in people with Alzheimer’s disease, is important for thyroid health, boosts the immune system, and due to selenium’s ability to lower inflammation in the body, some studies suggest that this mineral may be effective in reducing asthma-related symptoms. (6)

Salmon contains between 40 and 65 mcg of selenium per serving. (6a)

Click here to check current price of selenium supplements on Amazon.

Reduce the Risk of Heart Disease

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Controls Blood Pressure

Salmon can effectively reduce blood pressure and keep clotting at bay. Aim for two servings (a serving is usually 2-3 ounces) per week, which may reduce your risk of dying of a heart attack by up to one-third. (7)

May Benefit Weight Control

One three-ounce fillet of salmon has 155 calories, 22 grams of protein, seven grams of fat, and zero carbs. (8)

 

Click here to check current prices on weight loss supplements on Amazon.

Can Help Fight Inflammation

EPA and DHA reduce inflammation that can lead to metabolic syndrome, heart disease, diabetes, and kidney disease, among others. This occurs after your body metabolizes these fatty acids into compounds called resolvins and protectins, which have anti-inflammatory effects. In clinical studies, people consuming salmon or EPA and DHA supplements had decreases in the inflammatory marker C-reactive protein (CRP) (9)

May Protect Brain Health

More than two-thirds of the brain’s fatty acids are docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an omega-3 fatty acid found primarily in oily fish. Humans are metabolically incapable of making DHA on our own, so we must obtain it from our diet. This essential fatty acid protects neurons from injury, reduces cerebral inflammation, helps produce neurotransmitters that tell cells what to do, and is essential for quick information transfer down the axon, the neuron’s highway. (10)

Delicious And Versatile

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Grilled Salmon With Kale

Here is an excellent, mouth-watering grilled salmon recipe from www.eatingwell.com.

Check out their site for instructions on how to grill this up or try cooking it in an Air Fryer and while you’re there look for some more healthy great tasting ways to prepare salmon.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 (5 ounce) fresh or frozen skinless salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon olive oil
  • 6 ounces fresh kale, torn (discard stems)
  • ½ teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel
  • Dash salt
  • Lemon wedges

Click here to see current prices on Air Fryers on Amazon.

Sources Of Salmon

Which Is Better?

Wild Caught Or Farm-Raised

Characteristics of wild caught salmon:

  • Thinner and leaner filets
  • Darker in color, with a deeper reddish-pink-orange color
  • Fewer and smaller white stripes visible in the flesh (a.k.a. fat striations)
  • Harder to find in grocery stores, and not as common on restaurant menus

Wild caught salmon con:  can be exposed to toxins like mercury and other trace metals in their natural environment. But, levels are generally so low in all kinds of salmon that it’s not a concern.

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Characteristics of farm-raised salmon:

  • Thicker and fattier filets
  • Lighter in color, with more pale pink-orange color
  • More visible fat striations, that are thicker and deeper in the flesh
  • What most of us are used to seeing in grocery stores and eating at restaurants (11)

Farm raised salmon cons:

  • Higher risk of contamination from toxic, cancer-causing chemicals, like PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) and dioxins.
  •  Usually, raised in poor, crowded conditions, with higher rates of bacteria, parasites, and diseases.
  •  In some aquacultures, antibiotics are used to prevent illnesses, hormones are used to promote growth, and artificial coloring is added to the feed. Then, these substances can leach into the farm-raised salmon that we eat. (11a)

Click here to see current prices on salmon on Amazon.

After reading through several articles it is my opinion that wild caught salmon is a much healthier choice than its cousin farm-raised salmon. Wild caught salmon eat a more diverse diet which consists mostly of krill. Krill eat algae which are loaded with omega 3 fatty acids. Salmon eat the krill. These krill, in turn, give them their deep, rich, red color. When we eat the salmon we are benefiting from them eating the krill by being able to use the omega 3 for our own bodies. Which in turn leads to better health for our bodies.

Type 2 Diabetes and Salmon

Wild Salmon

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Boasts A Low Glycemic Index

Omega-3s help reduce your risk of heart disease. This is especially important for those with type 2 diabetes, due to an already elevated risk of cardiovascular disease. Over time, high blood glucose levels can lead to increased deposits of fatty materials in blood vessels, which contributes to clogging of the arteries (atherosclerosis).

Wild salmon is not only rich in omega 3s but also contains a healthy-fat and protein combination that slows the body’s absorption of carbohydrates, keeping blood sugars on an even keel. Which is why salmon is considered to be one of the best low glycemic index food choices for type 2 diabetics.

Click here to check out current prices on glucometers and lancets on Amazon.

“Wild Atlantic Salmon Numbers Drop For Second Consecutive Year”

This is the alarming headline of an article published June 11, 2018, by the Atlantic Salmon Federation.

The Atlantic Salmon Federation is an international conservation group formed in 1948 to conserve, protect, and restore wild Atlantic salmon and the environment they depend on

The article goes on to explain that the wild Atlantic salmon population had decreased by 15 percent in 2017 compared to the year before.

“Overall, we are struggling to restore North American wild Atlantic salmon populations to sustainable levels,” said ASF President Bill Taylor. “Although there are some bright spots, areas where we are seeing the result of wise management, we must remain concerned about the suite of threats affecting oceans and rivers.”

Because of the recently concluded 12-year conservation agreement between ASF, our European partner the North Atlantic Salmon Fund, and Greenland commercial fishermen, the number of wild salmon returning to North America could increase starting in 2019.

This article discusses just the Wild Atlantic salmon. However, it appears that some of the species of salmon are faring better than others. Through continued conservation efforts and smart, ethical efficient fishing and raising of salmon, they may be around for all future generations. Salmon is a great choice to have in any diet if you are wanting one source of food with so many benefits.

Conclusion

Salmon is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. It has almost unparalleled benefits. If you have not ever tried it or have not eaten it in a while, today is a great day to get out and get some wild caught salmon and try the recipe in this post or find one of your own. I recommend grilling it.

This fish is definitely one food choice to include on your journey to better health. Making salmon a regular part of your diet will allow you to reap its benefits for many years to come.

For more foods with health benefits check out our articles on beans and blueberries.

Please leave a comment or question. Let me know what you think of this post, tell me your story or share your favorite most delicious salmon (or favorite fish) recipe.

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So are you going to incorporate this superfood into your diet and enjoy its great taste and many benefits? Let me know.

Also, tell me what you’d like to read about on our blog. Tell me a current problem you are having that I can help you solve.

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