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colette_heimowitz's Blog
Where Salmon Get Their Red Color From

(and Why It Matters to You)

When creatures live in the wild--whether they be fish, animal or fowl--they eat a very different diet than when they are raised in captivity. "You are what you eat" applies equally to humans, animals and even plants--so if you're eating something that was once alive, it's good to know what that creature dines on.
We know, for example, that the omega-3 fat content of grass-fed beef is very different from that of their factory-farmed brethren. And we know that plants grown in mineral-rich soil are richer in those minerals than plants that barely survive in barren soil. But when we're looking at a foods commonly viewed as health food, like salmon, it's easy to forget that the same cautions apply.
Wild salmon dine on a crustacean called krill. Krill are little creatures resembling shrimp that are now being looked at for their astonishingly potent health benefits. They are a great source of omega-3 fats, for example, and krill oil as a supplement has been used successfully in research as a treatment for PMS symptoms (3mg a day is the dosage that seems to work, if you're interested.) And krill are also loaded with an antioxidant called astaxanthin.
Astaxanthin is a member of the carotenoid family (which also includes beta-carotene), and it has great potential in human health and nutrition. It's a powerful biological antioxidant. A recent scientific review in the March 2006 Journal of Natural Products examined the scientific literature from 2002 to 2005 on the most significant activities of astaxanthin, including its antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties and its effects on cancer, diabetes, the immune system and ocular (eye) health. A paper in the Biological and Pharmaceutical Bulletin in January 2005 suggested that astaxanthin had both antihypertensive and neuroprotective effects--that means it may lower blood pressure and protect the brain! Astaxanthin occurs naturally in a variety of living organisms (including krill). And it's what gives wild salmon their red color.
But here's the problem: In the wild, salmon forage the oceans feeding on colorful crustaceans (like krill), plankton and algae, which naturally impart a beautiful shade of pink to the flesh of their predators. But when salmon are farmed and unable to forage, their flesh is an insipid, unappealing color--one few people would find appealing. Hence, canthaxanthin or astaxanthin or both are added to the feed of farmed salmon. Apparently, although astaxanthin is normally found in wild salmon, canthaxanthin is more efficiently bioabsorbed. Almost 100 percent of all farmed salmon is artificially colored with either canthaxanthin or astaxanthin, a process sometimes euphemistically called "color finishing."
Responding to an ever-increasing demand for salmon--which must, however, be pink--several major chemical companies produce canthaxanthin and astaxanthin for color finishing. One chemical firm synthetically produces canthaxanthin and an astaxanthin called Carophyll Pink from petrochemicals and provides customers with its SalmoFan--much like an artist's color wheel, but in various shades of pink--to help salmon farmers and buyers select a color that sells well.
Warning:                According to reports in the journal Science, farmed salmon may contain high levels of dioxins. PCB levels may be up to eight times higher in farmed salmon compared to wild salmon. And in July 2003, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released a report stating that farmed salmon purchased in the United States contain the highest level of PCBs in the food supply system. Omega-3 content may also be lower in farm-raised salmon than in the wild variety.
Salmon is still one of the healthiest foods you can eat, and for many good reasons, not the least of which is its positive effect on heart health. But it's probably a good idea to seek out wild salmon whenever possible. It comes by its color naturally--by eating its natural diet--and it's likely to be higher in omega-3s and lower in some of the man-made additives and contaminants that you don't want in your diet.
Tip:          Try canned salmon--almost all of them are wild!
Published Monday, July 06, 2009 04:27 PM by colette_heimowitz
Filed Under:
colette_heimowitz said:
That is so sad. I get so worried when I see, hear and read about the implications. All I could do is pray. I used to be an activist in my college days , but my schedule is just too demanding now. There are so many advocacy causes I wouldn't know where to start. Since I spent the major part of my adult life as an advocate for humans, I think when I retire I will volunteer for groups helping the animal kingdom, especially horses.
July 09, 2009 01:30 PM EST
colette_heimowitz said:
You need to make sure you get adequate fiber from vegetables in Induction and add berries in OWL Constipation should not be an issue if you are consuming adequate fiber and all your water. if constipation continues, add psyllium for additional fiber.
July 17, 2009 11:44 AM EST
resam10 said:
I love salmom. I buy the canned pink wild salmon in a can, drain it, mash it up to crush the little bones, and for extra flavor......put some spicy pork rinds in a bag mash on them until all broken up and add it in the salmon with an egg, mix together and make salmon patties. Yummy.
August 30, 2009 10:05 AM EST
alice07740 said:|3001|astaxanthin||S|p|494414711 this should get your started to looking for astaxanthins supplements honey, I know the feeling, I have several of my friends that suffer with the same symthoms. I think it is also related to fungus and mold in our bodies, yeck but check it out. Be dedicated researcher on your own health. Some many helpful natural products can help us more than medicine, can! God Bless!
August 15, 2009 09:43 AM EST
scancun said:
I live in the Northwest, and even around here, farmed salmon is prevalent. You can find wild salmon at reasonable prices at Trader Joe's. I know TJ's isn't all over the place, but if you have one nearby, it's definitely a place to check out.
July 19, 2009 02:12 PM EST
cantony2211 said:
C - test post
July 15, 2009 01:58 AM EST
lvhaynes said:
The one food I can't get past my lips and nose is salmon. All other seafood I love. Don't know why but think I got some in a restaurant once that wasn't good and pretty raw. Also, how about blueberries. They are supposed to be healthy and I love them with Splenda and cream. YUM!! I started my trip on July 4 and have lost weight but am not weighing yet because I haven't gotten past the constipation. Got some fiber today so we shall see. Will that go away eventually?
July 16, 2009 09:34 PM EST
Bluewater said:
I love Salmon-I wonder if the Salmon at Costco is farmed or wild?
July 21, 2009 08:07 PM EST
-atkins4eva- said:
I was just checking out Dr Jonny Bowden's website and I see he has a Krill supplement formula. Eloise
August 22, 2009 04:35 AM EST
Beachbum☼In☼MT said:
That is VERY interesting! I knew that wild-caught salmon were best, but had no idea about the synthetic coloring! How disgusting! Is there no end to what the food industry forces upon us? Where there is a buck to be made!!
July 08, 2009 10:11 PM EST
vickisgarden said:
Thank you Colette. Very informative about something close our hearts up here in Alaska. BTW, my husband's last name is Salmon and he is from Salmon Village on the Salmon River. Something very sad is happening up here as we don't get salmon up here anymore and as you move on down the river towards the Yukon the runs are dwindling. Very serious implications. Farming salmon is not the answer as you explained very well. Vicki Salmon
July 09, 2009 12:24 PM EST
frandayan said:
I know wild alskan salmon can be very expensive for some folks,but I refuse to eat the farmed salmon and I eat salmon everyday...while for poitical reasons i am not a fan of Wal Mart- I do make an exception and buy ONE thing there every week. They sell a pakage od wild alaskan salmon (small bags - frozen - 4 pieces ,4oz. each piece) for 4.95..... what a deal.
July 12, 2009 09:29 AM EST
lindab1961 said:
I live in Wisconsin and get salmon from Lake Michigan, Are the health benefits the same? Also what about canned salmon? I made the salmon patty recipe from this site and it was great.
July 17, 2009 12:48 PM EST
lindab1961 said:
I'm back, I'm really interested in the Krill oil supplements, I get severe PMS, my entire body hurts for 1 to 2 weeks a month and my joints get really inflamed and I can hardly walk. I've been to specialists and they say I don't have arthritis but my blood tests reveal a high number for inflammation (whatever that means). Can I get this supplement in health food stores? Thanks for all the wonderful information.
July 17, 2009 12:53 PM EST
Pony123 said:
Test reply
July 15, 2009 02:01 AM EST
reymr498 said:
Thank you for sharing this information with us, I'm going to make sure I read where it comes from before buying it. I didn't really like salmon much but the health benefit is awesome. Thanks again.
July 15, 2009 08:10 PM EST
electricrb said:
I had always heard wild salmon was best. Now I know why! Finding wild salmon in the midwest can be tough, though.
July 08, 2009 08:44 AM EST
Melodee said:
I live in Alaska and we eat wild salmon (which we catch ourselves) 1 or 2 times a week. Glad to know it is so good for us!!
July 16, 2009 07:18 PM EST
Bisha said:
Costco carries both wild sockeye salmon (very red )and the farmed kind....a difference in price, higher for the wild!
August 29, 2009 07:06 PM EST
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