We love salmon in our family. Ever since we moved to the Pacific Northwest, we have been eating this healthy fish and loving it. You've probably heard a lot of talk over the years about salmon being one of the healthiest fish to eat. You may have even added salmon to your diet. But, do you know why? Here is some information as to why salmon is a super food and what specific benefits salmon has to offer as a part of your regular diet.
Meet the Super Fish
The mighty salmon is probably one of the most widely studied fish we know. These studies often involve sustainability and contaminants comparing farmed salmon with wild caught salmon. Farmed salmon represents a large majority of available fish in the U.S. However, these farmed salmon have been treated with antibiotics, have more fat content, and have less beneficial omega 3. For these reasons alone, wild salmon is a much healthier choice for regular consumption. It's the only salmon we eat.
Salmon is categorized as a 'fatty' fish, but don't let that scare or confuse you. The fat that is referred to is where we find the most powerful super food imaginable – omega 3 fatty acids. You have probably heard a lot of about these fatty acids recently. They are essential nutrient elements that contribute to your body's healthy functioning, beginning right at the top with the brain, and continuing throughout the body. And, you can get more omega 3 fatty acids in just one 4 ounce serving of salmon than you would get in several days of trying to eat other healthy foods containing some omega 3s.
With so much emphasis on the tremendous amount and availability of omega 3 fatty acids in salmon, some of the other healthy aspects have tended to be overlooked. Salmon is rich in tryptophan, the amino acid that helps the nervous system relax, rest, and even sleep. With more than 100 IU's of vitamin D in a serving of salmon, you have one of the very best sources available. Also, a super source of selenium, which is associated with decreased risk of joint inflammation, prevention of certain types of cancer, and is known to protect against cardiovascular diseases.
And that's not all. Don't forget the protein. Salmon, like other fish, is a great, low fat, low calorie source of protein. Then you get B3 (niacin), B12, B6, phosphorus, and magnesium. And not just minimal amounts either... you're getting serious doses of nutrients in this seriously delicious fish.
More Salmon Benefits
As you can see, salmon has a lot to offer, but along with all those vitamins, minerals, and omega 3s, salmon is also lower in cholesterol than other seafood and shellfish, like shrimp and lobster. So, while the omega 3s are improving cardiovascular health, the salmon is not adding a lot of cholesterol to counteract all the benefits.
The all-important omega 3s we've been talking about in salmon not only contribute to better brain function and memory, but also supports skin health, joint health, heart health, and digestive health, along with a host of other benefits.
Salmon also has selenium and certain amino acids that protect the nervous system from the effects of the aging process. It is also known to lower the risk of Parkinson and Alzheimer's disease, and can help prevent blood clots that can contribute to stroke.
Salmon tends to speed up the metabolism which helps regulate blood sugar levels in the body. That little four ounce serving of salmon we talked about earlier provides up to 30 grams of protein, which we know supports muscle strength. But, don't forget about one of our most important muscles – the heart. Yes, salmon has a lot of offer every system of our body. But, how can you enjoy salmon a couple times a week without getting tired of it?
Preparing Pleasing Salmon Dishes
A broiled, baked, or grilled salmon fillet is delicious all on its own, for most fish lovers. Simple dishes include basic lemon or tomatoe slices on top of the salmon and bake, broil or grill (my favorite!) But for some, the unique flavor of salmon is better when fixed in slightly different dishes or with a variety of sauces.
Cooked salmon works well with a lot of flavors. A number of different glazes and seasonings can turn each salmon experience into a unique one. Some herbs and spices to try in your rubs or sauces include cayenne pepper, mustard, fennel, ginger, and paprika. A classic sauce for salmon that's worthy of your time is a maple syrup glaze. Made simply by reducing a mixture of maple syrup with various ingredients like brown sugar, lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and even chili powder, makes a splendidly sweet and savory glaze that compliments the salmon perfectly.
My family has a favorite recipe called Bourbon Basted Salmon.
For every pound and a half of salmon mix
3 TBLS of bourbon,
1/4 Cup of brown sugar,
3 TBLS of green onion, chopped,
2 TBLS soy sauce (tamari if need to be gluten free), and
2TBLS of olive oil
Place salmon, skin side down, in a shallow baking dish. In a small bowl, combine all marinade ingredients. Pour over salmon and marinate in refrigerator at least 1 hour.
Brush the insides of a fish grilling basket with oil. Remove salmon from the marinade but reserve the marinade. Place salmon in basket and close securely. Grill salmon in basket over hot coals, turning once, until opaque throughout, about 7 minutes per side. Baste with reserve marinade during cooking. Serve hot or cold. Using the grilling basket carmelizes the brown sugar and bourbon. It gives the most delicious crust with a tender moist inside meat.
Alternately, you can cook the salmon directly on an oiled grill, or wrapped in aluminum foil, turning once, about 7 minutes per side
Creamed soups are another good option for enjoying salmon. Much like lobster bisque, salmon bisque has a rich flavor that can be slightly sweet, slightly spicy, and definitely delicious. Keep this bisque simple as the flavor of the salmon will carry it just fine.
Salmon that has been cooked, cooled, and tossed in a big salad with mixed greens is a great choice for folks who like a little crunch surrounding their salmon. Choose a light vinaigrette and a variety of vegetables for your salmon salads. One vegetable that is especially complimentary with salmon is cucumbers. Try making a simple flaked salmon and diced cucumber sandwich spread for something extra special. Just mix in a bit of light mayonnaise and spread on toasted English muffins or hearty crackers.
Of course, a favorite for holidays and buffet tables is smoked salmon. A few pieces of smoked salmon on a hearty cracker is enough to convince most non-believers that salmon is a food to favor. But, you can also used smoked salmon to create wonderful salads, spreads, and more. There is really no end to the ways you can enjoy this super-food.
This popular fish lends itself to lots of different ideas and recipes, so don't be afraid to experiment with new flavors to find the ones you like best. Salmon is a super healthy food that provides countless beneficial nutrients all wrapped up in a super tasty fish. Now you know why we LOVE it sooo much! Bon appetit!