The health benefits of salmon are unquestionable. For one thing, it’s abundant in Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential for your heart health, then easily digestible proteins or amino acids, along with vitamin-D, vitamin-A and some B-complex vitamins. Plus, salmon is a rich source of minerals including selenium, zinc, phosphorus, calcium and iron.
However, most of the salmon sold on fish markets comes from farms and not from the wild. Practically all salmon sold in North America labeled as “Atlantic” comes from farms. If you take into consideration that most of the natural habitat of fish on the eastern side of the USA has been destroyed, this won’t be as surprising as it sounds.
Unfortunately, farm-bred salmon does not have the same nutritional value of wild salmon. Farmed salmon is much higher in fat – it contains three times more saturated fat than wild salmon. Plus, it has 46% more calories, which come mostly from fat.
On the other hand, wild salmon is a richer source of minerals such as potassium, zinc and iron.
TOXICITY OF FARM-RAISED SALMON
- Artificial Colors
First of all, farm-bred salmon gets its color from food additives as opposed to wild salmon, which mainly feeds on krill, which turns their skin pink due to the red algae the krill eats. Farm-bred salmon is not fed on krill, and its pink color is anything but natural. In fact, it comes from one of the most common dyes used in fish feed – canthaxanthin, which can lead to eye defects and retinal damage. The use of this compound by fish farmers in Europe has been restricted by the European Commission, whereas in the US, it has to be labeled in order to identify farmed and dyed salmon.
According to the findings of a recent study, the levels of pesticides, dioxins, PCBs and other contaminants were almost 10 times higher in farmed salmon than in wild Pacific salmon. The study also found that three other potentially carcinogenic substances—dioxins, dieldrin, and toxaphene, were constantly found in farmed salmon. The study authors advised that one serving of farmed salmon a month is a maximum that most people should eat.
Another issue that has often been the subject of debate is the use of antibiotics in industrial salmon farms in order to prevent fish from being easily infected with various diseases. With consumption of such salmon, you also ingest some of those antibiotics and other substances.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN WILD AND FARM-BRED SALMON
There are several factors to consider when buying salmon. If you want to tell the difference between the two, look at the fish closely. Farm-raised salmon has visible stripes of fat and the flesh is orange. Wild salmon, on the other hand, has deep red color and no visible stripes of fat. Last, but not least, look at the price. Fresh farmed Atlantic salmon can sell for as little as one-quarter the price for wild Alaskan salmon.