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Wild Salmon: the most nutrient-dense food on the planet

Wild Salmon: the most nutrient-dense food on the planet

We all strive for wellness. We all know that eating wisely is essential for good health. So how can we up our nutrition?

What should be included in a healthy diet? What one food should we be sure to eat each week? How can we easily improve our diets? The answers? Fish, fish and fish! And more specifically, salmon!

And not just any salmon. Wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon are always at the top of the nutrition lists. Did you know that these salmon are the most nutrient-dense food on the planet? They are packed with protein, vitamins and minerals - nutrients that are linked to countless positive health outcomes. Registered dietitian-nutritionists urge us to eat two or three servings of oily fish like salmon per week

People who eat salmon every week statistically have lower risks of heart disease and cancer, improved mental capacity, healthier moisturized skin, and enjoy many other health advantages.

In this article, we approach the topic of wellness through salmon in two ways: 

  • we list and explain the nutrients that salmon provide (in six-ounce units, when applicable), and
  • we list the specific body systems that benefit from eating salmon. 

PROTEINS - the primary construction materials of the body. Proteins are the building blocks for our bones, skin, hair, muscles, hormones and antibodies.

  • Protein from wild-caught Alaska sockeye salmon is a high-quality, complete protein. In one six-ounce serving, there are about 36 grams of protein. Recent research has found that for optimal health, each meal should provide at least 20–30 grams of high quality protein.
  • Protein plays a major role in maintaining our muscle mass, and in healing and protecting our bone health. It is also vital for fetal development.

OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS EPA AND DHA - a family of healthy, unsaturated fats (nutrients) that we must get from our food (or less-effectively, from pills), because our bodies cannot create them.

  • Omega-3 fatty acids - salmon oil - are a powerful, super-healthy type of fat that our body needs, but cannot make on its own. These are essential fats, which means you need them to survive. Very few foods provide these omega-3 fatty acids, but happily, oily fish like salmon do
  • Research indicates that the omega-3’s in salmon reduce inflammation, aid in weight management, and promote brain health - perhaps even slowing Alzheimer’s disease. Furthermore, they limit peripheral artery disease, reduce coronary events and support a healthy heart throughout life.

VITAMINS - organic substances that cooperate to help our bodies grow and work the way they should. Vitamins are essential because they are required for life, and our bodies cannot make them. Salmon contain many of these essential vitamins.

Vitamin A 

  • Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, the immune system, reproduction, and growth and development. Vitamin A also helps our heart, lungs, and other organs work properly.

B Vitamins 

  • B Vitamins are essential nutrients. Samon is an excellent source of B Vitamins, particularly Niacin, Vitamin B6 and B12. 
  • Niacin helps our body convert the food we eat into energy, and it helps keep our skin, hair, and nervous system healthy. A serving of salmon provides 63% of the Daily Value of Niacin. 
  • Vitamin B6 is essential for efficient brain functioning. A serving of salmon provides 56% of the DV of Vitamin B6.
  • Vitamin B-12 keeps our body’s blood and nerve cells healthy. It creates and repairs our DNA, the genetic material in all of our cells. It also helps prevent anemia and reduce inflammation. Whole books are written about this one vitamin! A serving of salmon provides more than 100% of the DV of B-12.

Vitamin D 

  • Vitamin D, which is found in very few foods other than seafood, is an essential, fat-soluble vitamin
  • Vitamin D is essential for a healthy brain throughout our lives, and for creating and maintaining strong bones. It aids in calcium absorption and protects older adults from osteoporosis. An adequate intake of Vitamin D is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and Covid-19 complications. A serving of salmon provides more than 100% of the DV of Vitamin D! 

Vitamin E

  • Vitamin E is an important fat-soluble vitamin required for the proper function of many organs in the body. 
  • Vitamin E enhances our immune system and prevents clots from forming in our arteries. It’s important to vision, reproduction, and the health of our blood, brain and skin. With its antioxidant properties, it “scavenges” loose electrons, called free radicals, that can damage our cells. A serving of salmon provides about 60% of the DV of Vitamin E.

MINERALS - Inorganic substances our bodies need for growth and good health. Minerals are essential in the development and maintenance of our bones, muscles, heart and brain, and they support our hormones and enzymes. 

SELENIUM

  • Selenium is a key nutrient stored in our muscle tissue that our bodies need to function well.
  • Selenium protects our body from infection. It can improve cognition, immune system function, fertility and bone health. It even protects against mercury toxicity. A serving of sockeye salmon provides over 70% of our DV of selenium.

PHOSPHORUS

  • Phosphorus is a mineral found throughout the body. 85% of the body’s phosphorus is in our bones and teeth, and smaller amounts in our cells and tissues throughout our body. 
  • Phosphorus is needed to build strong healthy bones and teeth. It helps filter out waste in the kidneys, and plays an essential role in how the body stores and uses energy. Phosphorus also helps reduce muscle pain after a workout. A serving of sockeye salmon provides over 40% of our DV.

POTASSIUM

  • Potassium is a mineral our body needs to work properly. It is a type of electrolyte.
  • Potassium helps maintain normal levels of fluid inside our cells. It helps move nutrients into cells and waste products out of cells. Potassium helps our nerves function, our muscles contract and our heartbeat stay regular. Importantly, potassium helps offset some of sodium's harmful effects on blood pressure and stroke. 

MAGNESIUM

  • Magnesium is a mineral that is essential for good health. It plays many crucial roles in our body.
  • Magnesium helps keep our blood pressure normal, our bones strong, and our heart rhythm steady. It supports our exercise performance, our energy production and our brain functions. A serving of sockeye salmon provides about 12% of our DV.

Wild-caught Alaska salmon are a great source of the minerals listed above, as well as calcium, zinc, iodine, copper and sodium. 

Elsewhere on this blog, we explain the differences between wild-caught  salmon and farmed salmon. Suffice it to say, wild-caught salmon are nature's answer to questions about nutrition!

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