Farmed salmon are caged in tight pens throughout their lives and are typically fed grain products and a fish-based diet. The flesh of farmed salmon tends to be white with wide fat strips. Antibiotics, fungicides and coloring agents are added to help prevent diseases and parasites, and to turn their white flesh into a color similar to the wild-caught salmon. Farmed salmon may contain slightly higher levels of omega-3s, but unfortunately, their omega-3s comes from fishmeal typically made up of ground fish parts or fish oil obtained from mass harvesting of small fish near the bottom of the marine food chain.
Q: Is wild salmon better for me than farm-raised salmon?
A: The benefit of eating farmed salmon versus wild salmon is hotly debated. Some people take the stance that farm-raised salmon is devoid of nutrition and pumped full of toxins. However, the differences in farmed versus wild salmon have been blown out of proportion, and in the end, eating either type of salmon is better than none at all. Here’s a closer look at how the two types of fish stack up nutritionally.
- Farmed salmon contains high concentrations of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) as well as other dangerous contaminants not found in the wild caught salmon.
- Artificial coloring, toxic byproducts, antibiotics and other drugs and cancer causing contaminants are present to various degrees in the tissues, often at levels that can affect human health.
- Farmed salmon have many more pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids than the anti-inflammatory omega-3s. Excessive intake of omega-6 fatty acids blunt the benefits of omega-3s and can promote chronic, “silent” inflammation and the diseases associated with it, which includes heart diseases, diabetes, senility and cancer.
Conclusion: Salmon is still Healthy, no Matter Which Way You Slice it
It is a good idea to eat fatty fish such as salmon once or twice a week for optimal health.
It also happens to be loaded with other beneficial nutrients, is highly satiating (and therefore weight loss friendly), not to mention incredibly delicious.
The only real concern with farmed salmon is organic pollutants like PCBs. If this is something you’re concerned about, then do some research on the origins of your salmon and choose one that wasn’t bred in polluted waters.
Given the high amount of Omega-3s, quality protein and beneficial nutrients, I believe that the benefits of eating salmon (whether farmed or wild) far outweigh the negatives for most people.