Salmon is one of the most nutritious foods on the planet. It's loaded with protein and omega-3 fatty acids which is essential for health at all stages in life because our bodies can't make it.
But is that true for both farmed and wild salmon?
Salmon has many health benefits: saving muscle, decreasing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, the risk of cancer and heart disease. It's attributed to brain, eye and nerve health and is especially important for the developing brains of babies and children. It's good for bones, the thyroid, elasticity of the skin, and may help with belly fat, weight loss and seasonal allergies.
According to Prevention Magazine and Rodale's Organic Life, salmon beat out tuna as the most popular fish in the U.S. So to meet the demand, grocery stores sell wild and farmed salmon from around the world.
While wild salmon costs more, Prevention Magazine explains it has more flavor. It is high in important omega-3 fatty acids and it's lower in calories and saturated fat compared to farmed salmon. Most canned salmon is caught wild so check the label to see where it came from.
Atlantic salmon means it's farmed. Those fish have different diets than wild salmon. They are still high in omega-3 fatty acids, but can be given carotenoids. Those are organic pigments made by plants given to make the farmed salmon have pink flesh. Wild salmon get their color naturally by eating the small shellfish called krill.
Farmed salmon are more likely to be genetically engineered to grow faster. The FDA says that it is safe to eat, but it does require a label to let you, the consumer, know that.
According to the Washington State Department of Health, both wild and farmed salmon have low levels of mercury, PCBs, and other contaminants. The Cleveland Clinic reports that they both have contaminants, so moderation is best, especially for pregnant women. Still, they say wild salmon has fewer contaminants. And now, some farmed salmon has a label showing those fish were farmed more responsibly as it relates to their diets and cleanliness.
So the bottom line is: While farmed salmon is higher in calories, saturated fat and contaminants, It's still very healthful with lots of benefits. It's just slightly less-so than wild salmon, but both make an excellent addition to your regular diet.
NOTE: Fresh salmon means it was never frozen, but wild salmon is frozen immediately locking in all the nutrients before shipping.