At the supermarkets, you can often find farm-raised Atlantic salmon for about $6.99 a pound, while the wild-caught salmon is nearly twice as expensive. Salmon and other fatty fish are the top dietary source for omega-3 fatty acids, which are known to reduce the risk of heart disease.
“In the wild, salmon eat smaller fish that are high in EPA and DHA — the beneficial, long-chain omega-3 fatty acids,” said Dr. Bruce Bistrian, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
Farm-raised salmon eat higher-protein food pellets. Although location and environmental changes can affect the diet of the salmon, the farmed salmon’s flesh reflects the farmer’s choice of pellets. Typically, farmers feed their young salmon plant and animal pellets, then mix more expensive fish and fish oil enriched pellets later.
Compared to the wild-caught salmon, farmed fish tend to have higher levels of Omega-3s, but they also contain higher levels of saturated and polyunsaturated fats. However the amount of saturated fat isn’t a surprise. A serving of about 1.6 grams is about half as much as the amount of flank steak.
In the end: don’t stress about your salmon selection. The American Heart Association’s advice is to eat two servings of fish a week. You may want to opt for farmed salmon for dinner once a week, and then splurge on wild salmon if it looks especially good. Additional fatty fish choices are sardines, herring, bluefish, and mackerel.
When choosing to eat, its good to have healthy heart eating patterns, such as a Mediterranean diet, which includes fish, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and olive oil.
“If you eat more fish in the context of other changes in your diet, that’s more likely to confer a benefit,” says Dr. Bistrian.
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