The Health Benefits of Atlantic Salmon

Cook up some Atlantic salmon for dinner tonight; it not only tastes delicious and improves heart health’it also has many lesser-known health benefits

The Health Benefits of Atlantic Salmon

Source: The Amazing Healing Powers of Nature, Reader’s Digest

Adding salmon to your dinner rotation comes with health benefits
If the question is ‘chicken or fish?’ and the fish is Atlantic salmon’go with the fish. This popular food has been found to be especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which not only have been shown to be good for the heart but may also provide a range of other health benefits. Since the mid- 2000s, the American Heart Association and other health advisory bodies have recommended that all adults ‘even those without a documented history of coronary heart disease (CHD)’add fish to their diets.

Give it a try
To get the full health benefits, eat at least 2 servings of fish per week, particularly cold-water species such as Atlantic salmon. Eat portions of 3.5 ounces (100 grams) each serving.

Grilling, poaching or any other cooking method that doesn’t require the addition of oils or fats is recommended. Generally food sources are to be preferred to supplements, but options should be discussed with your doctor.

Research and studies on the health benefits of Atlantic salmon
We’ve known the benefits of eating Atlantic salmon since the 1970s, when the indigenous people of Greenland were found to have a substantially lower heart attack rate than Western populations. Believing diet was responsible, a pair of young Danish doctors travelled to collect blood samples from the country’s Inuit population. They identified high levels in the blood of 2 particular compounds’long-chain fatty acids with the chemical names docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), now more widely known as omega-3s. And they established that a major source of these fatty acids was cold-water marine fish, including Atlantic salmon and capelin, a relative of salmon that also featured strongly in the traditional Greenland Inuit diet.

Thousands of studies have investigated the Inuit phenomenon and the role played by omega-3s in cardiac health. This research has shown that the human body needs but can’t produce omega-3s and must source them from foods such as the Atlantic salmon and other cold-water marine fish species with oily flesh. And many clinical trials have confirmed that these remarkable fatty acids, also known as n-3 polyunsaturated fats, really do provide significant cardiac protection.

Good and bad fats
Omega-3s are ‘good’ fats that reduce the level of a type of ‘bad’ fat in the blood, known as triglycerides. Small amounts of triglycerides are important for energy production. But high levels in the blood over an extended period of time ‘ through, for example, the overconsumption of alcohol or an excessive dietary intake of saturated fat’can cause narrowing and hardening of the arteries. And this, in turn, increases the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Omega-3s are not only for heart health
It’s not just the heart that’s thought to benefit from dietary sources of omega-3s, such as salmon. A large 10-year clinical study, carried out by researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital (affiliated with Harvard Medical School in the United States) and reported in 2011, found that women who ate 1 or more servings per week of fish significantly reduced their risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD) compared to those women who ate less than 1 serving a month. AMD is a major cause worldwide of blindness in people aged over 50.

Research has also shown that omega-3s, such as those found in cold-water fish, reduce inflammation in the body and play an important role in brain development and performance, including memory.