Salmon is a low-mercury, fatty fish that contains a very high level of omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital to healthy brain and circulatory function. It is also a good source of vitamin D and protein.
Salmon live in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as in the Great Lakes. Although there are some concerns about overfishing some types of salmon— for example, commercial salmon fishing is very limited in California—wild Alaska salmon come from well-managed fisheries that still have adequate stocks of fish.
Salmon are also farmed. In fact, the vast majority of the Atlantic salmon available are farmed fish. Because these fish are fed a controlled diet, the balance of the omega-3 fatty acids may not be as good as it is in wild-caught fish. Farmed salmon may contain a somewhat lower level of omega-3 fatty acids overall. There is also a risk of higher levels of some contaminants, notably dioxins and PCBs, in the farmed fish. Salmon farming has been implicated in the introduction of harmful parasites to nearby wild salmon populations, leading to the decline and possible extinction of wild salmon in some areas.
The red color of salmon is the result of antioxidant carotenoids, including canthaxanthin and astaxanthin. (Atlantic salmon, however, do not contain canthaxanthin.) Astaxanthin appears to be a particularly powerful antioxidant, with positive effects throughout the body and special benefit to the brain and nervous system.
Some farmed salmon are fed astaxanthin to improve their color.Nutritional Facts
Three ounces of wild salmon cooked by dry heat provides 155 calories, 0 g carbohydrate, 21.6 g protein, 6.9 g fat, 0 g dietary fiber, 60 mg cholesterol, 37 IU vitamin A, 8.6 mg niacin, 2.6 mcg vitamin B12, 25 mcg folic acid, 1.6 mg pantothenic acid, 534 mg potassium, 48 mg sodium, 218 mg phosphorus, 13 mg calcium, and 31 mg magnesium.