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Wild Salmon Vs Farmed Salmon - Nutrition, Taste and Price Differences

Salmon is highly nutritious food, high on proteins, Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins such as vit. D, E and A, antioxidants and minerals. However, there are some nutrients that are either not present in the farmed salmon, or not in the right proportion. One such nutrient is the super-antioxidant called "astaxanthin". It is found only in the wild salmon, and is responsible for the bright orange color of the salmon's flesh. Without the astaxanthin the salmon flesh would be white, that's why a synthetic form of astaxanthin is mixed in the feed of the farmed salmon. Without it the farmed salmon would be totally unmarketable.

Wild sockeye salmon

Wild Sockeye Salmon

However, the synthetic astaxanthin don't have the same antioxidant qualities as the natural one, which comes from the crustaceans that are natural food for the wild salmon.

Another major difference between wild and farmed salmon is the Omega-3 and Omega-6 ratio. The ratio of these two fatty acids in farmed salmon is not as beneficial for your health, as it is in the wild salmon. There is, also, much higher content of vitamin D in the wild salmon, as opposed to the farmed salmon. Vitamin D is known as a great immune system protector.

That's not to say that farmed salmon is not healthy food. A moderate amount of farmed salmon eaten regularly can be great for your health. I have enjoyed salmon sushi almost daily for years, and can only say good things about it. On the other hand though, I have not exceeded 10 ounces per week.

Farmed salmon is far more available and a lot cheaper than wild salmon. It is interesting to note that farmed salmon is not even the same species than the wild salmon. The wild salmon is usually Pacific sockeye salmon, while its farmed cousin is Atlantic salmon, even though it is farmed a lot in the Pacific ocean.

It is always worth to search for wild salmon. If you find it in the frozen section in your grocery store, check the ingredients on the package. I have seen frozen salmon that contains other ingredients. Frozen salmon should have only one ingredient - salmon.

Sushi made with farmed salmon

Sushi made with farmed salmon

If you can't find wild salmon, but nevertheless want to enjoy it, you can buy canned salmon or look for a smoked wild salmon. Canned salmon is almost always made from the wild variety.

Most sushi bars and restaurants are using farmed salmon in their menus. They both taste great, but the farmed salmon is fattier, therefore preferred in sushi. Although farmed salmon is not as great for your health as wild salmon, I think it is still much healthier food than conventionally farmed beef and chicken.

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Chef George Krumov
About the author: George Krumov is a Red Seal certified chef with many years of culinary experience working around the world in Europe, the Middle East, the cruise line industry and North America. In the last two decades he has headed the kitchens of several restaurants in Canada, and ran his own restaurant.

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