Changes in feed alter nutrient profile of farmed salmon

The latest nutrient data from the USDA shows that farmed Atlantic salmon has undergone what is perhaps the most dramatic nutritional makeover in history.

Salmon is known for being rich in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids and, as you know, the anti-inflammatory diet is very big these days. (The recognition of inflammation as a key factor in heart disease and other common diseases was hailed by Time Magazine as one of the Top Ten Medical Breakthroughs of 2008.)

Several years ago, I caused quite a stir by pointing out that farmed salmon was actually highly inflammatory. When I first published the IF Ratings, a 3-ounce serving had an IF Rating of -491.

As I (and others) pointed out, farmed Atlantic salmon was quite high in arachidonic acid, an inflammatory fatty acid from the omega-6 family. The problem was that farmed salmon were being fed a diet rich in omega-6 vegetable oils rather than a more natural diet of omega-3 rich fish and algae. As a result, their flesh was unnaturally high in omega-6 fats.

Fish farmers apparently got the message! Big changes in aquaculture practices have resulted in farmed Atlantic salmon that is much lower in arachidonic acid…so much lower, in fact, that the most recent samples tested by the USDA had an IF Rating of +775 per 3 ounce serving!

So, after years of warning people to avoid farmed salmon, especially if they were trying to follow an anti-inflammatory diet, I’m now putting farmed salmon back on the menu!

NOTE: Unfortunately, the USDA only updated the nutrient information for raw farmed salmon and has failed to provide updated data for cooked farmed salmon.