The trouble with salmon
(This article is adapted from the October 2010 ShopSmart Magazine.)
You often hear that eating salmon is good for you because it’s a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which can lower your risk of heart disease and may boost your immune system. But you also might have heard that some salmon might be higher in PCBs, a probable carcinogen.
It’s all true and it can be confusing. What should you do? Here’s what you really need to know: Eat wild Alaskan salmon.
Most salmon you’ll find at the supermarket is not wild, it’s farmed, whether it’s called Atlantic, Canadian, or Chilean. But "Alaskan" salmon should be wild. (Decent wild-caught salmon can come from Washington, too.) Wild salmon is better for the environment and usually has fewer contaminants and additives than farm-raised salmon.
The problem with farmed salmon is that their diet includes concentrated fish meal and fish oil, which depletes fish stocks, and it might contain higher levels of PCBs, dioxins, and pesticide residues. Farmed salmon might also be treated with antibiotics, fungicides, and parasiticides. Another problem with farmed salmon is that waste from the fish farms can harm plant and animal life.
Salmon shopping tips
If you can’t find wild Alaskan salmon locally, order it online at websites like VitalChoice.com.
Usually you can find canned Alaskan wild salmon.
If you don’t see a label on salmon, assume it’s farmed.
Don’t pay more for salmon labeled "organic"—there are no standards for that label on fish in the U.S. so it’s not meaningful.
If you do buy farmed salmon eat it in moderation. Grill, bake, or broil it so that the fat drips off while cooking, and remove any skin to help cut your exposure to contaminants.
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