Are Farmed Salmon One of the Most Toxic Foods in the World?

Best Seafood Options: Wild Alaskan Salmon, Sardines and AnchoviesIt’s become quite clear that fish farms are not a viable solution to overfishing. If anything, they’re making matters worse, destroying the marine ecosystem at a far more rapid clip to boot … So what’s the answer? Unfortunately, the vast majority of fish — even when wild caught — is too contaminated to eat on a frequent basis. Most major waterways in the world are contaminated with mercury, heavy metals, and chemicals like dioxins, PCBs, and other agricultural chemicals that wind up in the environment.This is why, as a general rule, I no longer recommend getting your omega-3 requirements from fish. However, I do make two exceptions. One is authentic, wild-caught Alaskan sockeye salmon; the nutritional benefits of which I believe still outweigh any potential contamination.The risk of sockeye accumulating high amounts of mercury and other toxins is reduced because of its short life cycle, which is only about three years. Additionally, bioaccumulation of toxins is also reduced by the fact that it doesn’t feed on other, already contaminated, fish.Alaskan salmon is not allowed to be farmed, and is therefore always wild-caught. My favorite brand is Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics, which offers a nice variety of high-quality salmon products that test high for omega-3 fats and low for contaminants. Canned salmon labeled “Alaskan salmon” is a less expensive alternative to salmon fillets. The second exception is smaller fish with short life cycles, which also tend to be better alternatives in terms of fat content, such as sardines and anchovies, so it’s a win-win situation — lower contamination risk and higher nutritional value. A general guideline is that the closer to the bottom of the food chain the fish is, the less contamination it will have accumulated. Just make sure they’re not from the Baltic Sea.Other good choices include herring and fish roe (caviar), which is full of important phospholipids that nourish mitochondrial membranes.

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