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Health Benefits of Salmon

Updated on March 4, 2012

Salmon has good source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, protein, magnesium, selenium, vitamins B3, B6, and B12, and other important nutrients such as tryptophan, potassium, and choline.

In addition, salmon along with krill, shrimp, and other crustaceans contains a power antioxidant called astaxanthin. The redder the salmon, the more astaxanthin is has. The astaxanthin is from the salmon eating algae and zooplantons in the wild and is what gives the meat the red color. That is why wild salmon has a deeper and redder flesh than farmed salmon.

The omega-3 and B-vitamins keeps the brain healthy. The vitamin D and magnesium helps keeps the bones strong. The omega-3, protein, and choline helps maintain healthy cell membrane.

Wild Alaskan Salmon
Wild Alaskan Salmon | Source

Omega 3

Let's start with Omega-3 fatty acid since it is the most important contribution from the salmon.

Omega-3 fatty acids consists of ALA, DHA, and EPA, which stand for alpha-Linolenic acid, docosahexaenoic acid, and eicosapentanoic acid respectively. They are one of the most important component building blocks of your brain. Your brain is mostly fat with 60% of it being made of DHA.

Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fat that is beneficial to the cardiovasular system. It reduces blood pressure, lower triglycerides, and decreases inflammation.

Because omega-3 is anti-inflammatory, it may help with joint pains. Omega-3 is a "good fat" and can help with dry skin, dandruff, and brittle nails -- which can be symptoms that one is not getting enough good fats.

You can hear Dr. Mark Hyman talk about the benefits of Omega-3 fats on the Dr. Oz Show video here or read on drhyman.com.

Vitamin D

Salmon is a good source of vitamin D. Vitamin D is generated in our bodies when sunlight hits our skin. But most adults in upper latitudes that work in offices do not get enough sunlight to generate optimal amounts of vitamin D. And there are only a few foods that contain vitamin D. Salmon is one of them.

Vitamin D is one of the more important vitamins and many doctors are recommending vitamin D supplements. Vitamin D provides bone health and other functions within the body. Studies indicates that optimal levels of vitamin D reduces all-cause mortality and may even help reduce risk of cancers.

Selenium

Selenium is important because it helps make glutathione. Glutathione is important because it is your body's main antioxidant. It help detoxification. It controls inflammation. It is need for healthy immune system. Glutatione is need for good health.

Tryptophan and B vitamins

Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and is a building block for the neurotransmitter serotonin responsible for happy mood. Vitamin B6 is needed by the body to convert tryptophan into serotonin. B6 is involved in protein metabolism and red blood cell metabolism. Your nervous and immune system also needs B6. B12 is an energy booster and helps lower the heart-harmful homocysteine amino acid. B3 is more commonly known as niacin and is one of the important nutrients for supporting the mitochondria (the power-plant of your cells).

Choline is also categorized as complex-B vitamin and is also essential for health. This is because choline helps constructs components in cell membranes.

That's right. Salmon has all these: B3, B6, B12, choline, and tryptophan.

Salmon is brain food due to it omega-3 benefits to the brain and the fact that B vitamins are brain healthy.

Bioactive Peptides

Salmon contains bioactive peptides which are particular types of small protein molecules. These bioactive peptides is thought to support joint cartilage, improve insulin sensitivity, and control inflammation.

One bioactive peoptide that salmon contain is calcitonin. Calcitonin is important because it is secreted by our thyroid gland to regulate collagen which is needed for healthy skin and the minerals in the bone and surrounding tissues. [reference]

Eat Salmon

Many people are concerned with mercury content in fish. For both wild and farmed salmon, the health benefits far outweigh the risk.

Many nutritionist recommend wild salmon, especially wild Alaskan salmon because they have less PCB contaminates. It can be fresh or frozen. If you are far away from the ocean, it is perfectly fine to go with frozen salmon. Wild salmon are not caught in wintertime, so you would have to get them frozen. If not, a next-best alternative is canned wild salmon. Smoked salmon is not preferred because it has less omega-3 and may have the potential to contain toxic substances called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.

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