Monday, September 17, 2007

Salmon Does Not Lower My Stress Level

So, I'm eating my flax cereal this morning and watching Dr. Oz on Oprah, and I'm all like, Hi, Dr. Oz! I'm eating flax just like you told me to! And he must have mentioned something about eating wild-caught salmon instead of farmed salmon, because for the rest of the day I was worrying about salmon. Which is ironic, since the segment I had just seen was about how salmon could lower your stress level.

I have been trying to buy salmon once a week for the family for the omega-3 fatty acids. They're good for brain development -- for the kids -- and heart health for my husband. I knew that wild salmon is supposed to be better for the environment and better for you, but I almost always bought farmed because it is so, so much cheaper, like $7 to $9 a pound versus $13 to $20 a pound for wild. Actually, my local grocery store usually doesn't even have fresh wild salmon.

I figured it was like buying organic food: nice to have when you can afford it, but it's not gonna kill you if you can't, or at least you hope it's not going to. Yesterday I finally got around to looking up the difference.

Is eating farmed salmon better than no salmon at all? Because at the price of wild salmon, I would not be able to buy it on a regular basis, so the choice I was really looking at was farmed or none.

Turns out, no one has a good answer. According to two studies from a few years ago, farmed salmon is so full of PCBs that the EPA would recommend eating it only once a month, lest you catch the cancer. Or the impaired brain development and maybe the autism. Which is really the sort of thing I had been trying to avoid with the salmon to begin with.

But this article quotes experts who wisely weigh the health benefits against the potential risk and actually recommend eating salmon even if it's farmed. It's not true that "you can't be too careful" if being too careful stops you from eating something whose benefits outweigh the risks.

But, PCBs, being fat-soluble, are heavily passed on in breast milk and therefore, another expert in the same article says, women and girls especially should avoid it.

And here I have been, a breastfeeding mother with two girls, eating it as often as I can afford to bring it home.

But then, one of the pages I read presented a slightly attractive solution: Canned salmon. It's usually wild caught. Sure enough, I checked the cans in my cupboard and only one -- the cheapest variety I had bought -- did not say "wild" on the label or the actual can top.

Canned salmon is also cheaper than fresh. I can usually get about 28 ounces on sale for $6 to $7. And you don't have to use it the same day you buy it, which I consider a requirement when buying fresh fish.

The downside is that fresh salmon is delicious, while canned salmon tastes, well, so-so. It's ok in a tuna salad-like sandwich, but my husband won't eat it that way because he doesn't like salad dressing. Well, too bad, so sad, Epu. The rest of us are having a nice can o' fish, so you'll just have to microwave a burrito. Maybe you can pour some flaxseed oil on it ;-)


Anonymous said...

What about making salmon burgers or salmon cakes? Or mixing it into pasta sauce?

Just some "food" for thought. Hee!

Notta Wallflower said...

Hmm... I've really cut back on the fish since I've been pregnant. Instead, my doctor asked me to try Expecta Lipil, which has fish oil in it without all the mercury and all the other pollutants. I wonder if they have something similar for children to take. Like you, I saw the Dr. Oz special. I really like what he has to say - it makes sense to me. When I'm not pregnant, I err on the side of caution, but I don't avoid things altogether. I figure something will kill me in the end. Most likely, it will be this damn bay area traffic. :-P

Anonymous said...

That is so funny. You remind me of myself -- always checking into this fact and that one and then, just being bewildered by the whole thing.

We're using ground flax seed that we keep in the freezer. I put in their pancakes, cookies, banana bread -- anything. And, that too is better for you than the flax seed oil -- look that one up for prostate cancer.

Carrie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I won't eat farmed salmon either. I've found a couple of things help with the cost of wild - Costco & Trader Joe's both sell frozen wild salmon. You may be able to find that alternative at other stores too.

I never hesitate to buy frozen. Much of what you see in the case at the grocery store is previously frozen. I'd rather defrost it on my schedule (in cold water for about 30 minutes) than buy the defrosted filets that could have been sitting out for days.

Anonymous said...

I second the salmon cake/burger idea...they're really good!