Farmed Salmon Vs Wild Salmon and Why Wild Salmon Is Better

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Farmed Salmon Vs Wild Salmon and Why Wild Salmon Is Better

Grocery shopping can be frustrating. You’ve been told to eat more salmon but all the different options are confusing. Are you supposed to buy farmed or wild salmon?


Wild salmon is just that. It’s wild. You can find it living freely in oceans, lakes and rivers. It’s high in omega 3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that may reduce heart disease, behavioral problems, depression and inflammatory conditions2. It also has a range of other health benefits.

Although farmed fish is also a good source of omega 3 fatty acids, eating it may do you more harm than good.

Farmed fish are grown in fish-farms called aquacultures, where half of the fish in the world comes from1. They contain harmful additives and chemicals that you should stay away from and this is something that I’ve already mentioned in a previous article.

Below are some differences between farmed and wild salmon that explain why wild is always better.

Farmed Salmon vs. Wild Salmon

Farmed Salmon is Artificially Pink

Compare a piece of farmed salmon to a piece of wild salmon and you will notice a difference in color. Wild fish contains an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory compound known as astaxanthin, which is responsible for giving salmon its bright red color3.  It’s interesting to note that this compound is also one of the reasons why salmon is one of the top foods against wrinkles.

Wild salmon get their astaxanthin fill by eating plankton. But farmed fish don’t have this luxury. Instead, they are fed pellets that contain GMO corn and animal byproducts.

If you spot a piece of farmed fish that looks better than its wild counterpart, don’t be fooled. Farmed fish is given artificial color additive to make it look better.

Farmed Salmon Contains more Pollutants and Chemicals

According to a research published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, farmed salmon contains more contaminants than wild salmon4. The contaminants were below approved levels, but were still higher than what is considered to be safe by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Toxic chemicals such as POPs, or persistent organic pollutants, can greatly affect human health. They are associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes5 and an increased risk of stroke in women6. According to a research published in the Journal of Nutrition, farmed raised salmon contained 10 times the amount found in wild salmon in some areas7.

Eating farmed fish also gives you a higher risk of developing cancer, according to that study. Your cancer risk from eating farmed fish is three times higher than when you eat wild.

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A study published in CBS News found that farm raised salmon contained high levels of 13 pollutants including dioxins and PCBs11.

Dioxins and PCBs are highly toxic. Dioxins can cause reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system, interfere with hormones and also cause cancer.

The researchers concluded that eating more than a meal of farm-raised salmon per month, depending on its country of origin, could slightly increase the risk of getting cancer later in life.

According to the WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, dioxins were classified as a known human carcinogen12. Although dioxin was not shown to affect genetic material, we should not accept these types of additives in our food.

Farmed Salmon is Exposed to Antibiotics and Pesticides

Since farmed fish are kept in overcrowded nets, it’s easy for them to spread infections to each other. In these conditions, a virus can quickly spread and kill off a massive amount of fish.

Farmers don’t like that, so antibiotics are given to farmed fish to prevent them from getting sick and dying off.

According to a research published in the Environmental Microbiology, large amounts of antibiotics are being mixed with fish food and served to farmed fish8.

You are taking a risk when you eat fish that have been fed antibiotics. A study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy stated that antibiotics that are used in animal feed may cause infections in humans9.

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Wild fish are not exposed to antibiotics and therefore are safer to eat. That’s one more reason to go wild.

Farmed Salmon is Less Nutritious

One of the reasons why you eat salmon in the first place is because it’s good for you. So which fish has the highest nutritional content? Here’s a hint. Nature does it best.

A portion of wild salmon contains approximately 130 calories less than farmed fish when comparing small cuts10,13. It contains half the amount of fat, three times more vitamin A and eight times more vitamin D per 100 gram serving10,14. Farmed fish is also 3 times higher in saturated fat.

How to Compare Between Wild and Farmed Salmon

So how can you tell whether a salmon is wild or farm-raised?

Farmed salmon is light pink — almost orange — and has a flatter shine, without the rich hues of red.

Wild salmon is 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.

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https://www.healthyandnaturalworld.com/farmed-salmon-vs-wild-salmon/

Salmon – the Bottom Line

On paper wild fish wins all the rounds. It contains a higher nutritional content. It does not contain antibiotics or artificial additives. And most importantly, it is obtained naturally from its environment.

Avoid farm fish if you can. But there are only so many fish in the sea. There may be times when farm fish is your only option. Remember that farm fish is still high in omega 3 fatty acids and other nutrients that we need. But you may want to limit the number of days you eat farmed fish per month.

Be mindful when ordering salmon at restaurants. Unless the menu specifically states that the fish is wild, chances are it’s farmed.

Fresh, wild fish also tastes better than frozen, so enjoy it while you can.

Why You Should Never Eat Tilapia and Other Farmed Fish

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3 Responses to Farmed Salmon Vs Wild Salmon and Why Wild Salmon Is Better

  1. Cornelius Sneed says:

    One of the major factors you seem to have missed is that farmed salmon negatively impacts the wild salmon population, often quite seriously. As newly hatched wild salmon fry swim past salmon farms on their way to the sea, many become infested with parasites that abound in salmon farms, and this often kills them. This can (and does) decimate the wild salmon population.

    Farmed salmon is not only less healthy for people, it is bad for the environment. Conscientious people should avoid farmed salmon at all costs. If it is Atlantic salmon from Pacific waters, do not buy it. Period.

  2. Nicholes G Zachariades says:

    Are tin Salmon farmed or wild can you help me Please
    many thanks

    • Jenny says:

      I’ve read here that most canned salmon is wild, but some companies use farmed salmon. Alaskan pink or sockeye (also called red or blueback) salmon is wild-caught. If it’s labeled “Atlantic” salmon, it’s farmed.

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