Farmed salmon: full of antibiotics and mercury, here’s how to know if your salmon is healthy

Salmon is one of the most popular and eaten fish. Often people eat it once a week, partly because its flavor lends itself to many recipes, it is easy to cook, and also because it is a very good source of rare nutrients. You can even eat it raw if you buy a good product.

It’s very good to buy a good product, because, like meat, not all salmon are equal. Much of his flavor, fat content and nutritional profile depend on where and how he spent his life. Let’s go deep into the world of salmon. You will learn in this article all the powerful compounds of this delicious fish, how to choose the best salmon, and how to cook it perfectly with a recipe.

Astaxanthin: the anti-aging food coloring of nature

This bright red-orange color is a good indicator of wild salmon. Farmed salmon will have a pale pink color.

Color says a lot about food, and salmon is no exception. Look at the two pictures below:

The salmon on the left is farmed./ The salmon on the right is wild red salmon caught in Alaska: the natural diet gives the flesh its beautiful red color.

Sockeye salmon has a consistent and satisfying color. That’s what salmon should look like. The breeding variety does not even come close to his ankle. It is so pale that it looks like the fish was sick.

The difference in color is due to astaxanthin, a bright red molecule found in algae, plankton, and krill. This substance is powerful. Astaxanthin:

  • is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory [1].
  • improves blood circulation [1].
  • protects your mitochondria by strengthening their cell membranes, preventing reactive derivatives of oxygen from entering [2].
  • improves mitochondrial energy production [2].
  • Increases endurance by more than 50% when used as a supplement, according to a study. The study was sponsored by a company of astaxanthin supplements, so take the results with a grain of salt. That said, the study was also randomized and placebo-controlled, and there were a good number of participants [3].

Wild salmon get a lot of astaxanthin from their diet – especially sockeye salmon, which eat almost exclusively astaxanthin-rich plankton. Farmed salmon eat pellets that do not contain natural astaxanthin, so producers add a synthetic version. Most commercial astaxanthin comes from petrochemicals such as coal [4], and is not chemically identical to natural astaxanthin.

Other components of fish feed include fishmeal and fish oils that are at risk of contamination by dioxins and mercury. In recent years, producers have tried to reduce heavy metal contamination by replacing flour and fish oil with soy and corn proteins and vegetable oil, but salmon are not supposed to eat soy and corn, so the quality of their flesh is getting worse (see photos above), and farmers often have to administer antibiotics to keep them healthy; traces of it are found in the salmon meat you eat [5]. Vegetable oils also lower the omega-3 fatty acid content in salmon meat and can expose salmon to mycotoxins. Disgusting.

In summary, do not eat farmed salmon. Stick to wild varieties.

Mercury content of salmon

This overview of the fish diet was dark. Here’s some good news: both the FDA and EPA have studied mercury contamination of fish, and wild salmon have always been at a very low risk of mercury contamination [6,7].

What is the best type of wild salmon?

It depends on what nutrients you want.

Sockeye salmon have by far the most astaxanthin, cholesterol, and vitamin D, because sockeye have an unusual diet of almost exclusively plankton [8]. Their unique eating habits make them extremely difficult to breed, so sockeye are basically always wild. It is also rich in omega-3. Sockeye salmon has a strong flavor. It’s great for you, and it’s very tasty smoked (more about smoked salmon in a minute).

Chinook salmon (royal), on the other hand, has almost twice as much omega-3 as other salmon species [8]. Chinooks prefer cold, deep water. Extra omega-3s keep them warm – the fat stays liquid in their system and prevents them from freezing. Unlike sockeye salmon, chinook salmon can be bred, so check the source to make sure you buy wild fish.

Pacific silver salmon is another very good choice. It has the third highest fat content of salmon, coming behind chinook and sockeye salmon. Silver salmon also has a respectable vitamin D content and a good dose of omega-3s [8].

Sockeye, Chinook, and Silver Salmon are all great choices, as long as they are wild. Everyone has a specific taste; see which one you prefer.

How to cook your salmon

Smoked salmon has a wonderful taste, the disadvantage is that smoking the flesh produces histamine, which can cause inflammation if you are sensitive to it. Try some smoked salmon and see how you feel. And opt for cold smoked salmon if you can find some. The lower temperature is better for omega-3s.

If you’re buying your raw salmon, try this Bulletproof recipe: The recipe book. Its simplicity allows the flavor of the fish to come out, and the acidity of the lemon juice compensates for the fat.

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Perfect salmon recipe in foil

For 2 people

Salmon is one of the perfect superfoods if you cook it just right. If you cook it for too long, it’s not good. This recipe relieves you of a puzzle, so it’s a way to get your omega-3s.

2 fillets of wild salmon cut in center (200 grams each)

1 teaspoon of coconut oil

Sea salt

1 tablespoon of ghee

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs (such as chives, parsley, or dill)

Lemon quarters, to serve

1) Preheat the oven to 160 ° C.

2) Place the salmon on a sheet of parchment paper on a plate. Rub the fillets with coconut oil, season with sea salt, and garnish with ghee.

3) Wrap the baking paper around the fish, bending the edges to make sure the steam does not escape.

4) Cook until the fish is half-cooked, about 18 minutes. Sprinkle with herbs and a squeeze of lemon.

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