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Salmon: A Powerhouse of Nutrition

Posted:  Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Salmon: Nutrition facts

Superfood salmon has myriad health benefits! The commonly consumed salmon fish has exceptional nutritional value. It is rich in protein and omega-3 fatty acids. It is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals (including selenium and vitamin B12).

There are five main varieties of salmon: Chinook, Sockeye, Coho, Humpback and Chum. Chiknook salmon is the most sought after and the most expensive variety.

Salmon has garnered much attention for its health benefits. Several studies have shown that increased consumption of salmon can keep cholesterol levels in check as well as lowering the risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Many of the heart healthy benefits of salmon can be attributed to its high omega-3 fatty acid content. A 3 oz portion of salmon is estimated to provide over 1500 mg of omega-3s. Higher intake of fish rich in omega-3 fat (including salmon) is known to be associated with a lower risk of fatal heart attacks and a lower incidence of congestive heart failure.

"Omega-3 fatty acids levels in the blood have a greater impact on risk for heart disease than cholesterol, total fat or fibre. The higher the omega-3 levels, the lower the risk of heart disease and death and vice versa”, says William S. Harris, director of the University of South Dakota Nutrition and Metabolic Disease Research Institute in Sioux Falls.

High fish intake can also positively influence mental health. One long-term study found that children born to women who ate at least 12 oz of fish per week during pregnancy displayed better social, fine motor and communication skills, and higher IQs. Another study spanning a 4-year period discovered that people aged 65-94 years who had at least one fish meal per week, had a 60% lower risk of developing Alzheimer's disease than those who rarely or never ate fish. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to decrease aggression, impulsivity, and depression in adults and children with mood disorders and some types of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

However, there are a few potential health risks associated with eating salmon. Salmon may contain moderate amounts of mercury. Hence, consumption of this fish should be limited to six times or less per month. Pregnant women, in particular, should stick to eating only 6 oz of salmon per week, combined with 6 oz of a low-mercury fish, such as sardines, wild-caught trout, flounder, or sole. Salmon can also cause food-borne illnesses if stored improperly. To avoid such diseases, it is important to bear the following in mind:

Buy fresh salmon properly refrigerated at 40 °F or below

Refrigerate the salmon as soon as possible after the purchase

Discard the salmon if it smells overly "fishy"

Defrost frozen salmon in the refrigerator (and not on the kitchen counter or in the sink) to avoid bacterial growth

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