Your body starts dropping hints when your health starts going south. Headache, weight gain, hair fall, skin problems, etc. are signs that should not be ignored. Instead of chewing tablets like popcorn, I suggest you start eating wild-caught salmon. Because salmon is one of the healthiest foods in the world. The American Heart Association recommends eating at least two servings of salmon per week as it is rich in omega-3-fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals that help reduce the risk of several diseases and symptoms (1). So, here are 15 reasons you should eat salmon to improve your health.
It is clear from the nutrition facts mentioned above that salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that have multiple double bonds. EPA and DHA are two types of omega-3 fatty acids that are present in salmon. These help to reduce the serum triglyceride levels by reducing the LDL levels and increasing the degradation of the fatty acids (2). This prevents plaque formation and can protect you from cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
Salmon is also a great source of protein along with omega-3 fatty acids. Both these nutrients have an effect on the body fat percentage. Proteins are tough to digest and hence can help you feel full for a longer duration, thereby making you eat less. Omega-3 fatty acids help to reduce inflammation-induced weight gain, suppress appetite, improve circulation, boost metabolism, and reduce fat deposition by increasing fatty acid oxidation. So, you can get a slim and toned body if you consume salmon cooked the right way (3) (4).
Inflammation is dangerous. It can cause weight gain, joint pain, autoimmune response, gastric ulcers, and stroke. The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon, EPA and DHA, regulate the local hormones. These, in turn, regulate the cellular pathways and gene expression, which help suppress the proinflammatory biomolecules. This helps prevent migraine, arthritis, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, inflammation-induced obesity, etc. (5).
The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon are important for your brain to function properly. These polyunsaturated fatty acids are neuroprotective in nature. Moreover, EPA and DHA help increase the neurite outgrowth in the brain developmental stages. DHA also helps in neural stem cell differentiation to mature neural cells. The omega-3 fatty acids have also been found to increase cognitive function in older women (6) (7). Hence, it is wise to consume the required amount of salmon to get your dose of omega-3 fatty acids to boost your brain functions.
Cancer can be caused due to an imbalance in the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in the body, leading to toxic build-up, inflammation, and uncontrolled cell proliferation. Adding salmon to your diet can help increase the levels of omega-3 fatty acids, thereby reducing inflammation and toxicity in the body. In fact, many studies have proved that EPA and DHA can be used to treat cancer and prevent breast cancer progression. They can also help prevent chemo-induced muscle loss (8) (9).
The omega-3 fatty acids, DHA and EPA, play important but different roles in the body. DHA is responsible for pre and postnatal brain development while EPA helps to control mood and behavior. Researchers have found that administering DHA and EPA in certain combinations can help reduce the symptoms of ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) in children. This combination was also found to be beneficial for autistic and dyslexic children (10).
Only one-fourth cup of salmon can give you 13 g of protein – the building block of your body. Amino acids join to form proteins and so, it is important that you get the essential amino acids in the required amounts. Salmon is a great source of essential amino acids and lean protein. These will help you build lean muscle mass to get a more toned body, increase muscle power, prevent hair fall, suppress appetite, and improve skin, hair, and nail health (11).
Salmon is also a great source of vitamin D, which helps to strengthen bones, reduce the risk of diabetes type 2, fight cancer, and prevent heart disease. If you are not an early bird and do not go out for walks or jogging, it is quite possible that you are not getting the required amount of vitamin D. Moreover, if you have very sensitive skin, it is better to avoid sun exposure. In such cases, you should consume salmon to help your body produce melanin, the pigment that helps protect the skin from UV rays as well as improve your overall health (12) (13).
The Age-Related Eye Disease Study (AREDS) done by scientists showed that participants who regularly consumed omega-3 fatty acid-rich foods were at a lower risk of developing macular diseases. Since salmon is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, it is considered “the king” when it comes to improving eyesight (14). Your retina contains a good amount of DHA that regulates the activity of the membrane-bound enzymes and photoreceptors. Scientists have found that supplementing rats with DHA helped improve their vision (15).
Selenium is a trace mineral that acts as an antioxidant and salmon is a great source of selenium. About 3.5 pounds of salmon can provide you with 65% of the RDI of selenium. It helps fight cancer, regulates the production of the thyroid hormones, supports proper functioning of the immune system, counteracts the actions of HIV, helps lower the chances of miscarriage, promotes sperm motility, reduces oxidative stress and inflammation, and may also help protect you from cardiovascular diseases (16). Selenium deficiency can decline your cognitive abilities.
Ever wonder why the flesh of salmon is orangish pink? That’s because salmon contains a good amount of the astaxanthin, which is also the reason why crabs and shrimps are orange. Astaxanthin is a xanthophyll carotenoid that has powerful antioxidant properties and helps scavenge the harmful oxygen radicals. This, in turn, helps prevent cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammation. Astaxanthin cannot be synthesized by humans, but you can get a good amount of it by consuming salmon (17) (18).
Salmon is an excellent source of B vitamins. Here’s the list.
These vitamins each play a major role in maintaining optimum health. They help prevent osteoporosis and gastrointestinal problems, reduce the risk of fractures, help boost metabolism, improve brain function, keep the energy levels high, act as cofactors for various biological reactions, promote cellular calcium mobilization and cell differentiation, help in amino acid metabolism, and aid methylation of RNA, DNA, proteins, and phospholipids (19).
Salmon is a rich in omega-3 fatty acids, protein, vitamin B12, and iron. These nutrients improve your scalp health, prevent hair fall by providing nourishment to the follicles, promote hair growth, and prevent your hair from looking lackluster (20). So, you must consume salmon to take care of your hair. However, if you cannot have salmon frequently, you can have fish oil supplements to prevent hair fall.
As you age, fine lines, dark spots, and freckles start to appear. In fact, many young women have oily or dry skin that makes them prone to acne or flaky skin. Salmon is highly recommended if you want to improve your skin’s health. The omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D will help your cells produce collagen, keratin, and melanin. These will help your skin retain water, thereby reducing the wrinkles and fine lines. Astaxanthin helps to scavenge the bacteria and toxic oxygen radicals and improve skin elasticity, thereby reducing acne and dark spots (21) (22).
Yes, salmon can also help uplift your mood. The omega-3 fatty acids present in salmon help reduce inflammation and provide support to your emotional health. Almost 30% of certain brain cells is made up of DHA, and it is confirmed by scientists that people who suffer from depression have lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids as compared to those who did not. You can get 2 g omega-3 fatty acids from a single serving of salmon, which can ward off blues and cheer you up (23).
It is clear from these 15 points that salmon is a must-have in your dinner or lunch. Also, prefer homemade food as it tends to be devoid of artificial color and flavor and is, of course, tastier. Here are a few easy and delicious salmon recipes for you to try.
Total Time – 30 min; Prep Time – 20 min ; Serves – 2
Total Time – 30 min; Prep Time – 20 min ; Serves – 2
Total Time – 20 min; Prep Time – 15 min ; Serves – 2
These three recipes are delicious, quick, and nutritious. You can easily find the ingredients in the local supermarket and can pack them for your lunch at office or school. But can you store salmon for a longer duration? If yes, what’s the best way? Find out in the next section.
Choose fresh, frozen, canned, smoked or dried wild-caught Alaskan salmon. If you want to buy fresh salmon, buy it whole or opt for salmon fillet from the local fisherman or fish market. If you do not find fresh or frozen wild-caught salmon, choose canned salmon. If you do not have a fish market nearby, you should always buy wild-caught salmon from a reputed store.
You can also check whether the salmon is in the right condition by smelling it through the wrapping paper. Try to buy salmon with the skin as it will help preserve the flesh and also add flavor to the dish. Always store salmon in the refrigerator. If possible, put the salmon fillet on a baking tray and throw in some ice to keep the salmon fresh. To store it for a week, wrap the salmon in clean film and keep it in the coldest part of your refrigerator.
So, you see, it’s not that tough to select the best salmon and store it for at least a week. But you should keep the following points in mind before you buy salmon.
Due to an exponential rise in water pollution, most salmon are toxic. They contain heavy metals like mercury, persistent organic pollutants (POP), and pesticides. In fact, farmed salmon are most dangerous as they contain higher levels of these toxins. Wild-caught Alaskan salmon has the lowest levels of these toxins and is safe to consume. You should avoid consuming smoked salmon, especially if you are pregnant, as they are found to contain the highest levels of pollutants.
To conclude, salmon is delicious and has a myriad of health benefits. Just be careful while you buy and store it right to make it last longer. So, start consuming salmon and enjoy a disease-free life. Good luck!