Our members make Skipper Otto the incredible community it is, and one of our very special members is holistic nutritionist, Melissa Evanson. Melissa has written a bunch of fantastic nutrition blogs for Skipper Otto before, including this one on fish vs fish oil, this one on shrimp and heart health, and this one about mercury and tuna. This time, Melissa is focusing on the nutritional differences between wild and farmed salmon (spoiler alert, there are many reasons we love wild salmon!).
Salmon Is A Nutritional Superstar
It’s no secret – salmon is a nutritional superstar. From decreasing inflammation1, to lowering blood pressure2, to reducing cancer risk3, eating salmon has a huge variety of health benefits. However, not all salmon is created equal and there is a big difference between the nutritional power of wild salmon and farmed salmon.
Omega-3 & Omega-6 In Wild & Farmed Salmon
In general, farmed salmon has a higher fat content than wild-caught salmon, which means more calories (but less protein) and Omega-3 fatty acids per serving. However, farmed salmon doesn’t mean you’re actually absorbing more Omega-3s because all salmon contains both Omega-3 and Omega-6, which compete for the same receptors in our body4. Farmed salmon comes with a much higher ratio of Omega-6 than wild-caught salmon, which means that your body is absorbing much more Omega-6 when you eat farmed salmon compared to wild-caught salmon. The ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in farmed salmon is 14:1, which means that you’re getting 14x more Omega-6 than Omega-3 in farmed salmon, while in wild salmon, the ratio is only 3:1, so it is only 3x more Omega-6 than Omega-3. You can see this in the table below.
Key Nutritional Differences Between Omega-3 & 6
Both Omega-3 and Omega-6 are EFAs, which means that they need to be consumed via the diet and are essential for your health. In human history, Omega-3 & 6 were fairly balanced in our diets, however, the modern human diet contains significantly more Omega-6, which has contributed to the increase in weight gain, obesity5 and chronic inflammation6 that we see all over the world, due to the difference in how the body responds to Omega-6 vs Omega-3.
More Fat ≠ More Nutritional Content
The higher fat content of farmed salmon brings along some unwelcome hitchhikers as well. Farmed salmon has been found to have significantly higher concentrations of ‘fat-loving’ contaminants including PCBs, dioxins and pesticides7, likely due to the salmons’ diet. Some have argued that the benefits of Omega-3s outweigh the health problems that come with contaminants in farmed salmon, but when we have access to a rich source of wild-caught salmon on our West Coast, why risk it? Choosing wild-caught salmon gives you a higher ratio of Omega-3s to Omega-6s without the problem of contaminants.
The bottom line is that wild salmon wins over farmed salmon from a nutritional standpoint – whether you’re talking contaminant levels, healthy fats or overall micronutrient density.
Sonia - September 21, 2020
Nutrition Showdown: Farmed vs Wild Salmon
Sonia - September 21, 2020