We’ve all been told that salmon, packed with heart-healthy omega-3s and belly-flattening protein, is a great way to get strong, lean and healthy. That’s why you’d better sit down before you read the next sentence.
Salmon makes you fat.
Most salmon, that is. More than 90 percent of the fresh salmon eaten in this country comes from giant fish farms, not from nature. In fact, Atlantic salmon is 99 percent farmed, naturally white, and fed pellets that contain pink dye. Yuck! And unlike the proteins and fats that truly do help us lose weight, farmed salmon can have the opposite effect.
SALMON SHOCKER #8
It’s packed with bad-for-you fat!
The more omega-3 and the less omega-6, the better. Finding a balance between the two is key, since one fights inflammation while the other tends to promote it. Wild Alaskan salmon is an omega-3 goldmine; just 3 ounces provide 1,253 mg of the stuff and just 114 mg of omega-6s. Farmed salmon has even more omega-3s, providing 1,705 mg in a 3-ounce serving. So far so good, right? But feed makers save money by bulking up the fish’s food pellets with soy, which increases the ratio of omega-6 acids. As a result, farmed salmon has 1,900 mg of omega-6s. So instead of pushing your 3:6 ratio in the right direction, you’re actually taking a step backwards. (Meanwhile, push your weight-loss forward—rapidly and easily—with this essential plan for 14 Ways To Turn On Your Get-Lean Genes.)
SALMON SHOCKER #7
It’s eating chicken poop!
To save money, salmon farmers add bulking agents like poultry litter (that’s poop) and hydrolyzed chicken feathers to the feed.
SALMON SHOCKER #6
It’s been painted pink!
Wild salmon is naturally rose-tinted, a delicious side effect of the shrimp and krill in its diet. But because farmed salmon subsists on feed pellets made from ground fish and soy, its flesh is naturally beige. So salmon farmers add dyes to their feed to change the fish’s color from the inside. They can even use a convenient color chart, like the paper strips used to select paint colors in hardware stores, called the SalmoFan. It allows farmers to choose shades of flesh between pale salmon pink (#20) and bright orange-red (#34). Over the last several years, consumer lawsuits have forced some supermarkets to put “color added” labels on the packaging of farmed salmon.
SALMON SHOCKER #5
It’s lacking critical vitamins.
Vitamin D, a crucial nutrient that leads to bone health, and can also reduce your risk of heart attack, is one fourth in farmed fish what it is in wild salmon.
SALMON SHOCKER #4
It’s tainted with Agent Orange.
Analyzing 700 salmon bought in stores from Edinburgh, Scotland to Seattle, Washington, a team led by Ronald Hites, PhD, of Indiana University, found that the farmed product contained up to 8 times more PCBs—cancer-causing industrial chemicals that were banned in 1979—than the wild variety. Other chemicals found in farmed fish include dioxins from herbicides (the most famous being Agent Orange).