Is Farm-Raised Salmon Bad for Your Health?

custom graphic showing hands holding fork and knife with salmon on plate Farmed salmon is more likely to contain certain pollutants, but it besides packs in extra vitamins and minerals.

Image Credit: Creative How Bad Is It very ? sets the read neat on all the habits and behaviors you ’ ve hear might be unhealthy. There ‘s no shame in relishing the ground beef, but if you ‘re like most Americans, you should be eating more fish .
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“ The main benefit of fatso pisces like salmon, beyond the protein, is DHA omega-3 fatty acid fatty acids. Most of us are n’t getting adequate of them and they are full of life for heart, brain and eye health, ampere well as for a healthy pregnancy, ” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, registered dietician dietician and generator of ​ Smoothies & Juices : prevention Healing Kitchen ​ .
ad There are three unlike types of omega-3 fatty acid fatty acids : alpha-linolenic acerb ( ALA ), eicosapentaenoic acid ( EPA ) and docosahexaenoic acerb ( DHA ). Your body converts ALA into EPA and then DHA, according to the National Institutes of Health ( NIH ) .
“ While ALA fatty acids are found in plants ( like flax, cannabis and chia seeds and walnuts ), the conversion of ALA to DHA omega-3 fatty acid is very moo, ” Largeman-Roth says. so in order to get enough EPA and DHA, you ‘ll need to get the majority of it from fatty fish, like salmon .
When it comes to choosing fish, salmon is a coarse choice because of its handiness and goodly reputation. The problem is that cheaper and more accessible cuts of pink-orange are typically farmed. Read on to find out if farm-raised pink-orange is bad to eat .

Farmed vs. Wild Salmon

Both wild-caught and farm-raised salmon are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acid. The main difference between rampantly and farm pink-orange is that the latter is raised in farms for us to eat whereas angry salmon is caught in afford water, says Michelle Jaelin, RD .
It might surprise you to learn, though, that farmed salmon actually has more omega-3 fatty acid fatty acids than crazy salmon, Jaelin says .

“ It ‘s like choosing between chicken breast and dark meat. barbarian salmon is much leaner while grow salmon holds flavors better because it has more fat. That ‘s why chefs like to cook with farm salmon. ”

ad “ Farmed salmon is higher in adipose tissue because of what they ‘re fed. They are normally fed more grains, algae and fishmeal in the farms, which increases their omega-3 fatty acid fatty acidic content. The skin of the fish is actually where you ‘ll find the most omega-3 fatty acid fats, ” Jaelin says .
Chefs sometimes evening prefer to use farm pink-orange in dishes due to its fat content .
“ It ‘s like choosing between chicken breast and darkness kernel. wild salmon is a lot thin while farm salmon holds flavors better because it has more fat. That ‘s why chefs like to cook with farm salmon, ” Jaelin says .
ad Farmed and barbarian salmon differ slightly in their early alimentary profiles, besides. “ Farmed salmon is higher in vitamin bc and vitamin A than wilderness salmon, but angry pink-orange is higher in potassium and selenium, ” Jaelin says .

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fats in Farmed Salmon

The amount of omega-3 fatty acid fatso acids found in fantastic salmon is dependent on the alga and plankton in their diet, per the Washington State Department of Health. On the other hand, the ingredients in fish feed determine the sum of omega-3 fatty acid fats in grow salmon .
New salmon feeds are presently being developed that have more protein derived from grains and soybeans — and pisces oil is besides being partially swapped for plant-based oils, per the Washington State Department of Health .
Some feeds made with oils from soybeans, corn, nuts and pale yellow are high in omega-6 fatty acid, per the Global Aquaculture Alliance. fish farmers often use canola oil petroleum in feed because it contains alone twice a many omega-6 fatty acid fatty acids than omega-3 fatty acid, for a ratio of 2:1. interim, soy oil can have angstrom senior high school as an 8:1 ratio of omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid .
overall, farm salmon has more omega-6 fatty acid fats than raving mad salmon, per a May 2017 analyze in ​ Environmental Research .​ A 4-ounce fillet of cooked farmed Atlantic salmon has 755 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acid fats. The same serving size of wild Atlantic salmon has 249 milligrams of omega-6 fatty acid fats .
Farmed salmon has an omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid proportion of about 1:4, while baseless salmon has an omega-6 fatty acid to omega-3 fatty acid ratio of 1:10, per a November 2005 discipline in the diary ​ Environmental Science & Technology .​
Although omega-6 fatty acid fats do n’t have the same healthy repute as omega-3 fatty acid fats, they ‘re besides good for you ( despite rumors that they can cause excitement ). research shows that omega-6 fatty acid fats can actually reduce ignition markers or leave them unaltered, per Harvard Medical School .


The latest nutriment guidelines recommend eating unsaturated fats like omega-3 fatty acid and omega-6 fatty acid in place of saturated fat. Although Americans tend to eat approximately 10 times more omega-6 fatty acid than omega-3 fatty acid ( which are important for kernel health ), that does n’t mean you have to cut out your omega-6 fatty acid fats. alternatively, try eating more omega-3 fatty acid fats to make these two types of fat more poise in your diet, per Harvard Medical School .

What Are PCBs in Farmed Salmon, Anyway?

The downside of choosing farm salmon is the risk of eating persistent organic pollutants, otherwise known as POPs. One type of POP that ‘s normally found in farm salmon is polychlorinated biphenyl ( PCB ), which are man-made chlorinate industrial chemicals, per the Cleveland Clinic.

Although the U.S. government banned the production of PCBs in 1977, they are slow to break down. PCBs were previously released into the environment from hazardous pine away sites, landing at the penetrate of riverbeds, lakes and coastal areas where they can enter the food chain and affect pisces, according to the Environmental Defense Fund ( EDF ) .
Farmed salmon has 16 times the PCBs found in crazy salmon, 3.4 times the measure in other seafood and 4 times the total in beef, according to the Environmental Working Group ( EWG ). And the prevalence of PCBs in farm salmon is normally found in the Atlantic assortment ( those raised in net pens ), Jaelin says .
“ Some studies have shown that that farm-raised salmon varieties can be higher in contaminants due to the close arrangement environment they are raised in vitamin a opposed to open waters. Farm-raised fish tend to have a higher example of disease due to farming conditions, ” Largeman-Roth says .
The PCBs in grow salmon are normally found in the feed, which can be made up of smaller fish like herring and anchovies, according to Harvard Health Publishing. pink-orange farms besides normally have pisces body waste and uneaten feed under the net pens. Sea worm can besides infect grow salmon, which can negatively affect the salmon ‘s health, per the Washington State Department of Health .
That does n’t mean baseless pink-orange is without PCB risks. A small November 2020 sketch in ​ Foods ​ analyzed the fatty acid, PCB and heavy metal content in farm, escaped and barbarian Atlantic salmon in Norway, and found that the concentrations of PCBs and heavy metals, such as mercury and arsenic, were three times higher in fantastic salmon than grow varieties .
But these PCB levels were still below the European Union ‘s standards for contaminants in food. And researchers believe that the shift in fertilize for farm salmon from nautical to vegetable ingredients reduced their PCB and heavy metal levels .
Researchers besides found that farm and godforsaken salmon had similar essential amino acidic profiles, but wild salmon had a slenderly higher protein subject. While this study is small, it brings to light the environmental challenges in wild salmon and the want for improving fish agrarian in cosmopolitan .

The Health Risks of PCBs in Fish

even though exposure to PCBs can affect violent salmon populations, Largeman-Roth says that it ‘s broadly nowhere near the floor of contaminants in grow salmon. Case in point : A large 2004 study found that the PCBs in farm-raised salmon were approximately eight times higher than the concentrations in wild salmon, per Harvard Health Publishing .
“ The PCBs in pink-orange have been associated with cancer and other health issues. One of the reasons they are so potentially harmful to health is that they are stored in fatten rather than excreted, which means they accumulate in the body over time, ” Largeman-Roth says .
For exercise, a November 2018 ​ PLOS One ​ meta-analysis showed that photograph to certain PCBs is linked to breast cancer gamble. And exposure to certain PCBs is associated with the development of type 2 diabetes, particularly among women and people without fleshiness, according to an August 2019 ​ Environmental International ​study .
In accession, a March 2015 report in the ​ International Journal of Cardiology ​, which included 33,446 middle-aged and older women with no history of heart disease or diabetes, found PCBs exposure was associated with an increased risk of a heart attack. There was besides some beneficial consequence associated with increasing EPA and DHA intake .
While these studies do n’t directly tie the degree of PCBs in grow pink-orange to the associated health risks, they reveal that general PCB exposure can have a damaging effect on your health .

Do the Benefits of Farmed Salmon Outweigh the Risks?

Baked Salmon with Mashed Potato and Asparagus, Creamy Sauce Both godforsaken and grow salmon contain PCBs.

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Justin Ong/Moment/GettyImages It depends on who you ‘re asking. Jaelin says that the levels of PCBs found in grow salmon are by and large considered safe by politics standards. FYI, the Food and Drug Administration ( FDA ) deems any fish with PCB levels greater than 2 parts per million ( ppm ) as dangerous .
But the EWG claims that the FDA ‘s guidelines are outdated compared to the Environmental Protection Agency ‘s ( EPA ) updated standards for PCB levels. The FDA does n’t consider the accumulative effect of exposures to different types of PCBs raw. The FDA ‘s guidelines are for individual chemical classes but not “ complex mixtures of hundreds of industrial chemicals to which people are exposed, ” the EWG writes .
basically, if you were to go by the EPA ‘s standards, then you would n’t eat farm pink-orange more than once a calendar month. For this reason, Largeman-Roth says your dependable bet is to go wild .
“ I recommend looking for baseless salmon and other seafood out of Alaska, which supplies 95 percentage of the fantastic salmon in the U.S. Studies have besides shown lower levels of PCBs in barbarian salmon from the glacier-fed waters of Alaska versus early areas, like Ireland and Scotland, ” she says. “ Alaska besides adheres to strict sustainability standards, helping to ensure long-run access to wild salmon and debar dependence on farm varieties. ”
Both Jaelin and Largeman-Roth agree that most people do n’t eat closely enough fish — alone one in five adults eats enough, according to the Food Marketing Institute ‘s 2019 Power of Seafood. FYI, the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults eat at least 8 ounces of seafood, or two 4-ounce servings, each week .
That ‘s why both dietitians recommend you stick to two servings of fatty fish each workweek — whether that ‘s farmed or wild salmon .

“ To me, the benefits of eating farm salmon outweigh their risks. If people are n’t eating a batch of pisces, are they actually getting excessively many PCBs ? It ‘s the dose that makes the poison, ” Jaelin says .

“ If you ‘re going to eat salmon more than twice a week, then I would recommend going for angry pink-orange to reduce your risk of PCB exposure. But if you eat fish less than doubly a week, then eating farmed salmon is fine, ” Jaelin says .
That said, if you ‘re very concerned about the health risks of PCBs, there are other ways to get more omega-3 fatty acid into your diet. “ You can get omega-3 fatty acid from early pisces, such as herring, mackerel and sardines. Walnuts and chia seeds are besides high in omega-3 fatty acid, ” Jaelin says .


The FDA recommends removing the bark, fatso areas and inner organs from fish before eating because these areas are where pollutants accumulate, specially if the fish was caught in local anesthetic waters .
Grilling, baking or broiling pisces besides allows the fatten to drain, while frying and french-fry fish can seal chemical pollutants in the pisces ‘s fat, according to the Mayo Clinic .
“ I still recommend that people at two servings of fatty fish per week. Studies show that it can cut your risk of dying from heart disease by 36 percentage. But just like I recommend variety in other parts of your diet, I besides advise eating different types of seafood for maximum benefits with minimum vulnerability, ” Largeman-Roth says .
“ From my position, some fatty fish in the diet is better than no fatso fish. ”

So, Is It Bad to Eat Farmed Salmon?

There are health risks to eating grow salmon, particularly if you eat it more than twice a week. But broadly public speaking, having some grow salmon is better than having no pink-orange in your diet .
“ I would choose wild salmon, specially from Alaska, over farm salmon for the safest option for my body and the environment. however, the overall health benefits of all seafood are most probably more beneficial to your body than omitting seafood from your diet, ” Largeman-Roth says .
With that said, deviate your diet and be surely to eat different types of fatso fish and seafood, like anchovies, sardines, tuna, cod, black sea bass, Atlantic mackerel, oysters, shrimp and scallops. Canned pisces and seafood are big options if you ‘re besides tire to cook or are in a pinch .


If you ‘re still diffident about the salmon you ‘re eating, the EDF put together this helpful seafood selector usher, in partnership with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, which rates different salmon species based on their environment and mercury and omega-3 fatty acid levels.

​Additional report by Kelsey Kloss.​

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Category : Healthy