Lox to Love

With salmon, big taste and big health benefits get along swimmingly.

Salmon isn’t the only “tastes good, good for you” food, but it just may be the dinnertime champ. ironically for a “fatty” fish, this low-calorie, protein-packed standard is actually a lean, mean fighting machine that protects against cardiovascular disease. it’s also a source of vitamin D, which is proven to help prevent cognitive decline. and with all its benefits, salmon is an easy-to-prepare palate pleaser that goes deliciously as an entree with all kinds of side dishes.

Power up

When it comes to omega-3 fatty acids, salmon is second only to sardines. the specific fatty acids in salmon—eicosapentaenoic acid, or ePa, and docosahexaenoic acid, or Dha—have been proven to reduce the risk of heart disease. they also protect against high blood pressure and cholesterol, irregular heart rhythms, diabetes, certain types of cancer and even conditions such as depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and alzheimer’s.

A 2011 study of Alaskan yup’ik eskimos who were overweight or obese but had a diet high in fatty fish found that they were at lower risk of heart disease than were overweight
people in the contiguous United States who ate fewer ePa- and Dha-rich foods. in fact, study participants’ levels of triglycerides and inflammation (potential indicators of heart disease) were about the same as those of normal-weight individuals in the lower 48.

Furthermore, salmon is a better and less fattening source of vitamin B12, which helps the body form red blood cells, than red meat. other vitamins in the fish include a (which protects your skin and vision), D (which— besides its brain benefits—maintains bone health), and e (an antioxidant, which also helps prevent heart disease).

Did you know?

The flesh of salmon is widely recognized by consumers as red or pink, but it actually starts out white or grey. the fish gets its pink color from its diet of crustaceans (tiny shrimp, for instance), which are rich in carotenoids. according to the alaska Department of Fish and game, some King salmon have a genetic difference that prevents them from absorbing the pigment, and their flesh remains white. also, farm-raised salmon that don’t get the fish’s natural diet appear lighter pink or orange—this comes from an additive in the feed the fish are given.

Buying tips

There are five major species of Pacific salmon (King, Coho, Sockeye, Pink and Chum, in order of richness) and one farm-raised atlantic species, the type of salmon most commonly consumed in the United States. much debate has focused on the issue of wild versus farmed salmon. the wild fish is lower in saturated fat and calories and higher in iron and calcium than the farmed variety. that’s not to say that all farmed salmon is bad. today, higher consumer demand for sustainability and accountability has made U.S.–based fish farmers up the ante. Whole Foods, for example, says it sells farmed fish that has passed a strict vetting process, which prohibits antibiotics, added growth hormones, pesticides and fish that are genetically engineered.

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