Beware, as Media Tries to Mislead You...
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Beware, as Media Tries to Mislead You About Healthful Fish Choices
According to lead author Dr. Dariush Mozaffarian, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard, the reason we need omega-3 is because 95 percent of your cells’ membranes are made of fat. Without fats such as omega-3, your cells cannot function properly. He recommends eating one or two servings of fatty fish per week to optimize your blood levels of omega-3. Interestingly enough, the New York Times gets quite specific about the types of fish recommended:
“...3.5 ounces of farmed salmon, 5 ounces of anchovies or herring, or 15 to 18 ounces of cod or catfish.”
I think not... That is one of your WORST options, for a number of reasons that I will detail below. Cod and catfish also primarily come from aquatic fish farms these days. Unfortunately, fish farming has become big business, and a protected one at that. To learn more about this sad state of affairs, please see my recent article on the film Salmon Confidential, which details how salmon farms threaten the entire ecosystem in Canada’s British Columbia, and how the Canadian government is covering it up to protect the farming industry.
Let me put it to you plainly: If you want to maximize health benefits from fish, you want to steer clear of farmed fish, particularly farmed salmon, and even more specifically genetically engineered farmed salmon. On December 21, 2012, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a giant step closer toward the final approval of the first genetically engineered (GE) food animal – a salmon designed to grow abnormally fast,4 and to an unnaturally large size. It now appears the first GE fish could reach your dinner plate within the next year or two, unless a sufficiently strong opposition is mounted.
How to Identify Wild Salmon from Farm-Raised
Unfortunately, salmon are often mislabeled (and genetically engineered foods don’t require any labeling at all as of yet). Studies have shown that as much as 70 to 80 percent of the fish marked "wild" are actually farmed. This includes restaurants, where 90-95 percent of salmon is farmed, yet may be mis-listed on the menu as "wild."
So how can you tell whether a salmon is wild or farm-raised? The flesh of wild sockeye salmon is bright red, courtesy of its natural astaxanthin content. It’s also very lean, so the fat marks, those white stripes you see in the meat, are very thin. If the fish is pale pink with wide fat marks, the salmon is farmed. Avoid Atlantic salmon, as typically salmon labeled "Atlantic Salmon" currently comes from fish farms.
The two designations you want to look for are: “Alaskan salmon,” and “sockeye salmon,” as Alaskan sockeye is not allowed to be farmed. So canned salmon labeled "Alaskan Salmon" is a good bet, and if you find sockeye salmon, it's bound to be wild. Again, you can tell sockeye salmon from other salmon by its color; its flesh is bright red opposed to pink, courtesy of its superior astaxanthin content. Sockeye salmon actually has one of the highest concentrations of astaxanthin of any food.
Why Farmed Salmon is an Inferior Choice
As the first video discusses, there are three major differences between wild-caught and farmed salmon, and once you realize how different the fish are, based on how they were raised, you’ll see why opting for the cheaper alternative isn’t the wisest choice – especially if you’re seeking to improve your omega-3 to omega-6 ratio:
Nutritional content – Wild salmon swim around in the wild, eating what nature programmed them to eat. Therefore, their nutritional profile is more complete, with micronutrients, fats, minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants like astaxanthin (which gives salmon its pink, or in the case of sockeye, red-colored, flesh.)
Farmed salmon, on the other hand, are fed an artificial diet consisting of grain products like corn and soy (most of which is genetically modified), along with chicken and feather meal, artificial coloring, and synthetic astaxanthin, which is not approved for human consumption, but is permitted to be used in fish feed.
Mother Nature never intended fish to eat these things, and as a consequence of this radically unnatural diet, the nutritional content of their flesh is also altered, and not for the better. Farmed salmon taste different than wild-caught, and much of it has to do with the altered fat ratio, which is dramatically different. Farmed salmon contain far more omega-6, courtesy of their grain-based diet.
The ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 fat of wild salmon is far superior to farmed. Wild salmon typically has 600 to 1,000 percent more omega-3s compared to omega-6s. So whereas farmed salmon has a 1 to 1 ratio of omega-3s and omega-6s – again due to its “junk food” diet – the ratio for wild sockeye salmon is between 6 and 9 to 1. This is important, because if you’re trying to improve your omega-3 to omega-6 balance, you simply will not accomplish it with farmed salmon.
Fish Health – Wild salmon return to their native spawning grounds each year, without you having to do anything, while farmed salmon are kept in pens. Naturally, fish swimming in the wild get more exercise, and this alone make wild fish healthier than their incarcerated counterparts. As explained by Tony Farrell with the University of British Columbia Zoology department, fish kept in constrained environments become the aquatic version of “couch potatoes,” with similar health consequences as humans face when we don’t exercise enough.
Recent research has shown that survival rates of fish that have received sufficient exercise is 13 percent higher than the “couch potato” controls, and the exercise-conditioned fish had better growth, and stronger immune systems, courtesy of certain gene activations.
Environment – Nearly 99 percent of farmed salmon are raised in net pens in the open ocean. All the excess food that is dropped in ends up going out in the environment – the genetically engineered ingredients, the pesticides, the antibiotics and chemical additives. Anything the fish do not consume, along with all their now unnatural waste products, end up contaminating the environment. To learn more about the many hazards of fish farming, check out Farmed And Dangerous.org.
There’s also the vegetarian or vegan ethical aspect. Wild sockeye salmon are the vegetarians of the salmon world. Their diet consists of krill, plankton and algae, and they are caught at the very end of their life cycle. By the time they enter the fishing grounds, they’ve lived 95 percent of their natural life in the wild. At the end of their life, they fight their way up-river to spawn, after which they die a natural death – unless they’re caught by fishermen or get eaten by some other predator.
Lethal Salmon Virus Found in Every Region with Installed Salmon Farms
According to whistle blower Dr. Rick Rutledge, professor and fisheries statistician at Simon Fraser University in Canada, wild river inlet sockeye have been found to be infected with Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISA), also known as salmon influenza. This highly lethal and much-feared virus is directly attributed to farmed salmon, and has proliferated in every region across the globe where Atlantic salmon farms have been installed.
At least 11 species of fish in the British Columbia’s Fraser River have also been found to be infected with ISA, yet the Canadian food inspection agency has aggressively refuted the findings. In fact, everyone who has spoken up about these salmon viruses, which can be traced back to salmon farms, have been shut down in some way or another. By muzzling scientists looking into this problem, the Canadian government is allowing potentially contaminated farm-raised salmon to be sold, exported, and consumed, which is yet another reason to avoid farmed salmon.
In fact, Canadian farmed salmon purchased in various stores and sushi restaurants around British Columbia have tested positive for at least three different salmon viruses, including ISA, salmon alpha viruses, and Piscine reovirus, which gives salmon a heart attack and prevents them from swimming up river. Aside from the unknown effects on human health from eating salmon with lethal fish viruses, these contaminated farmed salmon may also pose a threat to local watersheds far from the site of origination, as viruses are preserved by cold so when you wash the fish the viruses get flushed down your drain...
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