10 of 'The World's Healthiest Foods'
High in protein and a health-promoting fat, the omega-3 essential fatty acids. Wild-caught cold-water fish, like salmon, are higher in omega-3 fatty acids than warm-water fish. And salmon's an excellent source of the B vitamins, B-12 and niacin, and the trace mineral selenium.
The omega-3 fats found in salmon help improve the ratio of good cholesterol to bad cholesterol. A four-ounce serving of salmon contains 33.6 percent of the daily value for omega-3 fatty acids.
Salmon may also be a "good mood" food. The brain needs omega-3 fatty acids to function properly. Many studies suggest a connection between increased rates of depression and bi-polar disorders and decreased omega-3 consumption. A recent Purdue University study showed that kids low in omega-3 essential fatty acids are significantly more likely to be hyperactive, have learning disorders, and to display behavioral problems. A study in Europe of 3,581 young urban adults found less hostility in those who consumed more fish rich in omega-3s. Other studies have linked omega-3 fish consumption to lowered risk of Alzheimer's disease.
Farmed salmon is cheaper and available fresh year-round, but environmental groups complain that the risk of disease and contamination is higher. Also, the fish must be fed an additive (approved by the FDA) to give it a rich, rosy color. If the restaurant calls it "Atlantic" or "Norwegian," it's most likely farmed. Alaskan salmon is caught wild, as fish farming is banned there.
"I encourage people to have a deep-water fish a couple of times a week," says Askew, who also touts albacore and blue-fin tuna, halibut and swordfish along with salmon as great sources of omega-3 fatty acids. The fish all "prevent blood clots and lower blood pressure and triglycerides and cholesterol," he says.
Sources: World's Healthiest Foods Web site, whfoods.com; USDA Nutrient Database; "The Nutrition Bible" by Jean Anderson and Barbara Deskins; previous articles written by Valerie Phillips and Lois M. Collins; American Dietetic Association; The LDS Hospital Fitness Institute; U. Nutrition Division; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Adapted from a 2004 article by Valerie Phillips and Lois M. Collins.
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