We know that salmon is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids which has been shown to help heart health, arthritis, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and many other ailments. But we also know the risk of too much salmon and its elevated mercury levels. So is farmed fish better than wild?
Proponents of salmon farming argue that the oceans can’t continue to meet the demand of all the fish we are trying to take, and farming makes salmon available year-round at an affordable price.
Opponents of farming counter that salmon farms spread disease and pack fish with contaminants, antibiotics, and artificial colorings and pollute the ocean. Some also claim that the rich source of omega-3 fatty acids are lower in farmed fish than wild fish.
So, what can we do to select fish that doesn’t harm us or the environment?
1. Choose fish from fisheries with careful management plans, such as Alaskan halibut, Atlantic herring and Alaskan salmon.
2. Choose short lived species like sardines and anchovies. Avoid large predator fish like tuna, swordfish, king mackerel and shark.
3. Look for fish with the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.
4. Ask how the fish was caught (hook-caught fish are better than nets and long lines)
5. Look for tuna labeled “dolphin safe”.
6. Remove fat and skin from fish before cooking. PCB’s (polychlorinated biphenyls, a highly toxic chemical compound) accumulate in fat. Trimming the fat will reduce your exposure.
7. Grill, bake or broil your fish so the fat can drain off the fish. Frying seals in the toxins.
As for me, I eat wild salmon in season and limit my intake of farmed salmon. The fish I buy comes from Chile, Alaska or Washington, which are known to have the lowest PCB levels. And to be on the safe side, I consume plenty of Vitamin C, Magnesium, and
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (N-A-C) which is a precursor to a powerful antioxidant known as glutathione. I will also occasionally use Milk thistle best known to support liver function. These supplements all help with detoxifying and removing toxins from the body.
Fish oil supplements are also an option. Find a reputable brand that screens their products for heavy metals and toxins and the benefit of these pills definitely outweigh the risks.
For more information about how to make responsible seafood choices and the environmental and health effects of various fish, check out these two websites: http://www.seafoodwatch.org and http://www.oceansalive.org.