It’s true … there are plenty of fish in the sea. If you had to choose just one to put on your plate, though, salmon would definitely be a great choice! The fatty fish is a nutritional powerhouse that’s loaded with good-for-you Omega 3 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, and minerals. It’s for that reason that salmon is known as one of the healthiest foods on the planet.
1) Salmon Is Rich in Vitamin D
Throughout the years, we have been hearing a lot more about the importance of vitamin D. Numerous studies link a lack of this key vitamin to health issues such as depression, heart disease, various cancers, pregnancy problems, birth defects, poor bone health, and more. Now, here is another scary fact for you — nearly half of the U.S. population is vitamin D deficient.
Along with spending some more time in the sunshine, a great way you can boost your vitamin D level is to eat more fish, particularly salmon. Salmon is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D. In fact, just one single serving of salmon contains more than an entire day’s recommended amount of vitamin D.
*You can find out if you are vitamin D deficient by taking a simple blood test. Talk to your doctor if you would like to be tested.
2) Salmon Supports Heart Health
Salmon is an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which have major heart health benefits. According to The American Heart Association, consuming sufficient amounts of Omega-3 fats can lower a person’s high blood pressure and reduce the fatty plaques inside their artery walls. It can also reduce a person’s risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats), stroke, and heart attack.
In one study, researchers investigated the association between fish consumption and the risk of sudden cardiac death. To do this, they followed more than 20,500 male physicians in the U.S. for 11 years. In the end, they found that men who consumed fish at least once a week had a 50 percent lower risk of dying from a sudden cardiac event than men who ate fish less than once a month.
Doctors also say eating two servings of fish a week can lower your risk of stroke by as much as 50 percent.
3) Salmon Is Considered a “Brain Food”
Omega-3 rich foods (including salmon) have been shown to benefit cognitive function in a variety of ways. Scientists say they can see a clear difference in people as young as toddlers. According to research published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, children between the ages of 3 to 5 years old who consumed Omega-3 fats as infants scored higher on intelligence tests than children who didn’t include the key nutrient in their diet. This is far from the only study that links Omega-3 fats to children’s learning ability.
Other studies have linked low docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) levels with poor memory and lower reading skills. DHA is a type of Omega-3 fat that’s usually found in animal-based foods, such as salmon. This just goes to show that feeding your child salmon from a young age could be beneficial.
Don’t stop eating the delicious fish as an adult, though. Salmon’s brain-boosting benefits have been shown to improve adult brains too! Scientists link low Omega-3 fatty acid levels to cognitive aging, Dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease. While more research is needed, scientists believe DHA play a major role in helping protect against such devastating illnesses.
In one study that looked at senior citizens with age-related cognitive decline, scientists found those who took 900 milligrams of DHA every day scored slightly better on a computerized memory test than those who received a placebo.
In another study, seniors were broken into three groups: one group ate fish less than once a week, another ate fish once a week, and a third group ate fish twice a week. Throughout the study, they had to perform in-home cognitive assessments (three times over six years of follow-up). Researchers found seniors who ate fish once or twice a week showed a slower cognitive decline than participants who ate fish less than once a week.
So with all of these astounding results, you may be questioning “How?”
How do the Omega-3s in salmon actually impact our cognitive health? Well, according to researchers, Omega-3s can boost grey matter in the brain. They have found weekly consumption of baked or broiled fish to have a positive association with grey matter volumes. This is crucial for a healthy brain since grey matter is dark tissue in the brain that contains neurons that process information and store memories.
Please note: While many studies attribute salmon’s “brain food” status to its rich Omega-3s, other vitamins and minerals that are abundant in the pink fish do play a role in keeping the brain healthy too.
4) Salmon May Improve Mood & Fight Depression
In the last section, we talked a little about grey matter in the brain and how it impacts our cognitive function. I told you that grey matter is tissue that helps the brain process information. Now, we’re going to dig a little deeper into that topic.
Researchers at The University of Pittsburgh School of Health Sciences interviewed 55 healthy adults to determine their average intake of long-chain Omega-3 fats. Then, they used high-resolution MRIs to evaluate grey matter volume. They discovered participants who had high levels of long-chain Omega-3s also had higher volumes of grey matter in areas of the brain that are associated with emotional arousal. The findings suggest consuming Omega-3 rich foods, such as salmon, may “promote structural improvement in areas of the brain related to mood and emotion regulation, the same areas where grey matter is reduced in people who have mood disorders such as major depressive disorder.”
For this reason, researchers say people who eat salmon regularly are much less likely to fall into a slump of depression. Additionally, people who have already been diagnosed with depression and take anti-depressant medications may find adding salmon to their diet useful. In one study, researchers found people who took Omega-3 fatty acids in addition to their prescription antidepressants had a greater improvement in symptoms than those who took antidepressants alone.
5) Salmon Supports Healthy Digestion
Dealing with digestive issues such as gas, bloating, and indigestion is both painful and embarrassing. If you are someone who is constantly running to the bathroom with an upset stomach, consider adding salmon to your diet.
The Omega-3s in salmon have been proven effective at fighting inflammation in the digestive tract. For this reason, salmon can help heal damaged intestines, which are common in people with gastrointestinal issues.
As a result of salmon’s anti-inflammatory effects, it can also offer relief to people suffering from Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) symptoms. Crohn disease and ulcerative colitis are two types of IBD.
Additionally, if you are one of the 25-45 million Americans who suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) then you may want to start eating salmon. Studies show the Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon can also help relieve IBS symptoms such as gas and abnormal stool.
6) Helps Promote Healthy Bones & Joints
The Omega-3 fats in salmon have been known to improve bone strength and fight the common bone disease osteoporosis. In fact, some studies suggest people who don’t consume enough Omega-3 fats are more likely to suffer bone loss and deal with bone fractures.
Additionally, the anti-inflammatory effects of salmon can help ease joint pain and morning stiffness for people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis.
7) Salmon Supports Eye Health
Have you ever heard the term ‘age-related macular degeneration’ or simply ‘macular degeneration?’ It’s a common medical condition that results in blurred or no vision and typically impacts senior citizens. While there is no cure, there are things you can to lower your risk. They include:
- Go for routine eye exams
- Don’t smoke
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Eat a healthy diet
- Include fatty fish, such as salmon, into your regular diet
In one study, researchers found participants who ate oily fish at least once per week – compared to less than once per week – cut their risk of developing “wet” macular degeneration in half.
Other studies also link salmon consumption with helping cure dry eye syndrome.
8) Salmon May Promote Better Sleep
Getting a good night’s sleep is important for our productivity level and overall health/well-being. Even though we’re constantly told we should get anywhere from seven to nine hours of sleep per night, many people are getting nowhere near that amount. While there are a few natural things you can do right now to promote a better night’s sleep (such as no caffeine past noon, take a detox bath before crawling into bed, do some light yoga stretches before bedtime, avoid the cell phone in bed, and read a book in bed), researchers have found adding fish to your regular diet can also help.
In one study, researchers assigned 95 men to one of two groups — a “fish group” or a “control group.” The fish group was given Atlantic salmon three times per week from September to February, and the Control group was fed an alternative meal (like chicken, pork, or beef). In the end, the fish group reported a positive impact on sleep and also daily functioning. Researchers say this may be related to salmon’s high amounts of vitamin D.
9) Salmon Is Great For Your Skin
Did you know, the secret to better skin isn’t only what you put on top of it? While clinical creams and cleansers can definitely make a difference in your outer appearance, diet also plays a large role in your skin’s condition. Certain types of foods, such as dairy, have been linked to acne and other unwanted skin problems. On the flip side, eating a diet rich in Omega-3 fats can help reduce the signs and symptoms of conditions such as acne, eczema, and psoriasis. That’s because Omega-3s can help reduce inflammation, which is the underlying cause of many skin issues.
Consuming salmon once or twice a week can help keep inflammation at bay, fight free radicals that cause signs of aging, and also strengthen your skin cells. Altogether, this can result in a more youthful and glowing appearance.
10) Salmon Is Lower In Mercury Than Some Other Popular Fish
Fish, in general, are loaded with good-for-you nutrients and can improve various aspects of your health (as you just read). Here’s the problem with fish, though: they live in our polluted oceans. Due to heavy pollution in our oceans, most major waterways are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and various chemicals. These toxins directly affect our fish supply and the people who enjoy eating seafood. While some health experts say the mercury levels in fish aren’t a huge issue unless you’re eating it every day, it’s still something to be aware of. Certain fish contain higher levels of mercury than others, such as tuna. Salmon, on the other hand, is low on the contamination list, making it a safer option.
How To Choose The Best Salmon
When shopping for salmon, always go with wild-caught vs farm-raised. Watch this short interview with Dr. David Friedman to find out why and how you can tell which fish is wild-caught:
Salmon is an extremely versatile dish. You can bake it, broil it, grill it, fry it, cover it in delicious herbs, turn it into burgers, or use it to make homemade sushi. Below are a few ways you can prepare a healthy and delicious salmon dish that you and your guests will love:
Easy Baked Lemon Garlic Herb Crusted Salmon – This dish takes just a few minutes to prepare and about 10 minutes to bake. All you do is coat your salmon fillet with grass-fed butter (or ghee), zested lemon, garlic, and a few other healthy herbs. Then, pop it in the oven and enjoy! It’s light, flaky, and full of flavor.
Grilled Salmon Kebabs – These salmon kebabs are perfect for your next barbeque. Throw some lemon and salmon slices on a stick, coat them with healthy herbs, pop them on the grill, and enjoy. This dish is simple to make, fun to eat, and loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Salmon Burgers With Avocado Salsa – If you like salmon and you enjoy guacamole then you are going to go crazy for these healthy salmon burgers. The burgers themselves do have breadcrumbs in them, but if you follow a gluten-free diet you can simply swap that out for quinoa or oatmeal. This dish is also loaded with healthy herbs that offer a huge flavor kick. Additionally, ditch the breaded bun to make this meal even healthier.
Nori Salmon Rolls – This homemade sushi is much healthier than the store bought stuff since they don’t have any processed rice and are stuffed with veggies. These nori salmon rolls are great as an appetizer or a full meal – it just depends on how many pieces you want to eat!