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Health food of the month - Salmon

November 2012  

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Diet & Supplements Index

Health Food of the Month: SalmonSalmon are lovely fish that have become really popular in recent years because they taste great, are very quick and easy to cook, and they can be adapted to a whole range of different dishes, both hot and cold.

Apart from their taste and good nutrition, salmon are actually very interesting fish. They live naturally along the coasts of the North Atlantic and the Pacific, and today they are also extensively farmed.

Salmon are born in fresh water, but migrate to the salty waters of the ocean. They return to their fresh water breeding grounds when they want to reproduce. It is a fascinating lifecycle and most of us will have seen pictures of salmon leaping up small waterfalls in their attempts to get up river to the point where they were spawned.

However, along with their interesting life styles is the fact that salmon are incredibly nutritious and good for us. They are a good protein food without carbohydrates; are rich in B vitamins including 34 per cent of the recommended dietary allowance for niacin and 27 per cent of vitamin B6 plus good levels of thiamine, riboflavin, folate and vitamin B12. They contain phosphorous, magnesium and selenium, and something easier for most of us to understand, salmon are rich in omega-3 fatty acids.

These acids are recognised as a healthy aspect of any diet and may help protect against heart disease and even Alzheimer’s disease and stroke. Recent reports suggest omega-3 fatty acids may also have anti-inflammatory effects and help reduce blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

And you don’t have to buy fresh salmon to get all the goodness. Canned salmon not only contains lots of these key nutrients but also contains large amounts of calcium because the soft bones are usually included. Interestingly, around four ounces of salmon provides pretty well all the vitamin D you need in a day.

Raw salmon needs to be refrigerated quickly after use to keep fresh. The Japanese only started including salmon in their sushi and other traditional dishes after refrigeration was introduced.

There are various reports that suggest farmed salmon can contain higher levels of diozins, polychlorinated biphenyl and other unwanted items than the levels found in wild salmon, and it has also been raised that the omega-3 content in farmed salmon is considerable lower than in naturally raised salmon.

It is worth finding out about the origins of the salmon you buy; but if you obtain a lovely fresh salmon and cook it gently while still fresh, you can be certain that it will contain some wonderful nutrients to help keep you fit and healthy.



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