Salmon is a true nutritional catch from the animal kingdom. Bringing to us the gift of superior health benefits (along with great taste) when it lands on our plates. Here are some great reasons why this fish packs such a healthy wallop of Paleo goodness.
Health benefits of salmon
- It’s an omega-3 superstar. Salmon has an unusually high omega-3 fatty acid content and it’s one of the food’s biggest health benefits. A 4-ounce piece, whether baked or broiled, probably contains at least 2 grams of disease-preventing omega-3 fats. This is more omega-3 intake than the average U.S. adult consumes from all food over several days’ time.
- All those omega-3s help your heart in several different ways. Omega-3 is beneficial for decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, heart arrhythmia, high blood pressure and high triglycerides. In addition, omega-3 is also linked to improved metabolic markers for cardiovascular disease. These benefits start with even one omega-3 fish meal weekly. More of the benefits, however, kick in with eating these meals 2-3 times per week.
- It’s good for eye health too. Eating fish rich in omega-3 fats may decrease risk of macular degeneration and chronic dry eye.
- Salmon also supplies the best forms of omega-3s. Nearly half of the fatty acids in salmon are comprised of EPA and slightly less are in the form of DHA. Which are unusually high amounts of these types of fatty acids in comparison to common foods.
- It has a stellar ratio of omega-3 to omega-6. An average serving usually will contain a very low amount of omega-6. Less than a half a gram, which is a ratio of 5.5 to 1 for omega-3s to omega-6s. In the standard American diet, there’s the continual problem of the omega-3/omega-6 ratio being lopsided in the opposite direction. Containing at least 4-5 times as much omega-6 fat as omega-3 fat. This is counter-productive for our health, as studies have shown that these two types of fatty acids compete for the same conversion enzymes. This means that the higher the omega-6s that are in the diet, the more directly they’ll affect the conversion of omega-3s found in plant foods, to the EPA and DHA form of omega-3s, which protect us from disease.
Proteins and amino acids
- Salmon gives you beneficial proteins and amino acids. It features short protein particles known as peptides. Peptides proven to be bioactive and may also act as anti-inflammatory agents. They supply important amounts of taurine, an antioxidant amino acid.
- (Alaskan) salmon is sustainable. Monterey Bay Aquarium in Monterey, California just declared Alaskan salmon as a “best choice” in salmon selection. This is because it is the only low-risk salmon to meet four sustainability criteria:
- the level of population vulnerability
- The effects of fishing on the habitat
- The state of wild stocks
- The by-catch
- Salmon is a great source of selenium. A 4-oz. serving contains over 61% of the recommended daily value of this immune-boosting mineral. Selenium in the diet has been linked to decreased risk of joint inflammation and prevention of specific cancers. Selenium also play’s an important role in cardiovascular protection.
- DHA provided by salmon is the most important type of fat for the human brain. Increased salmon in the diet is associated with a decreased risk of certain brain related problems. Including depression, decreased risk of hostility in teenagers, and decreased risk of cognitive decline in seniors. Some studies show a correlation between higher IQ and omega-3 intake and omega-3 fish.
Low risk of contaminants
- Other types of wild-caught salmon are still relatively low in contaminants (remember to buy wild-caught only). While contaminants like mercury, pesticides and persistent organic pollutants (POPs) continue to be a problem in salmon habitats and with the fish itself, other wild-caught varieties like Southeast Alaskan chum, sockeye, coho, pink and Chinook, as well as Kodiak coho, pink and chum still pose a low risk of contaminants.
The many ways that salmon nourishes us makes it a perfect addition to a Paleo table if it’s not on yours already. Try eating salmon 2-3 times a week as a delicious and healthy way to fortify and protect your body and mind.