Ibn al-Qayyim mentioned the benefits of eating fish
in his Prophetic Medicine
. He said that the best fish
was that with a pleasing taste, good-smelling, of moderate size, and with thin skin
, consisting of neither hard nor dry flesh. He also gave preference to those which lived in fresh water
, and fed on plants, not on anything polluted.
Ibn al-Qayyim said that sea fish was excellent; as it made the body fertile and that the best portion of a fish was that close to the rear of it.
Salmon is classed as a freshwater fish that belongs to the Salmonidae family, which also includes trout. Although salmon generally live in oceans and lakes throughout the world, they do return to freshwater to reproduce. The majority of Atlantic salmon available on the market are typically farmed, while the majority of Pacific salmon are caught in the wild. Farmed salmon is the most popular salmon consumed in Europe and the US.
Health Benefits of Eating Salmon
Salmon is a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are necessary for proper brain functioning and a healthy cardiovascular system. The flesh is usually orange or red due to the carotenoids found there. Salmon also contains important minerals including calcium, phosphorus, potassium, iron, magnesium, selenium and zinc.
Studies suggest that the inclusion of fatty fish, such as salmon, along with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seed, reduces the risk of cancer, heart attack, stroke and diabetes. The omega-3 fats found in salmon have also shown to benefit heart health, depression, asthma and cancer.
Beware of Contaminants in Fish
Fish should be eaten in moderation because nearly all fish and shellfish contain harmful chemicals. The five primary contaminants are mercury, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), chlordane, dioxins, and DDT. Numerous studies have linked these substances to health problems in adults and unborn children.
To minimize the risks, try to find out exactly where your fish comes from and eat fish known to have low levels of contaminants, such as Alaska-caught fish. Also, a high percentage of contaminants collect in the fatty portion of the fish, and in the area between the flesh and skin (in some species this area has darker flesh). Therefore it is advisable to trim away any fat from the back, belly and lateral line. Cooking the fish and allowing the fat to drain away may also reduce possible contaminants.
Tips on Eating Fish
- Try to eat wild salmon as much as possible, as several studies have found concentrations of PCBs and other contaminants at levels of up to 10 times higher in farmed salmon compared to wild salmon.
- Fresh, wild-caught salmon are only available for a few months of the year. Farm-raised salmon are available all year round.
- Fresh fish should either be eaten or frozen within two days of purchase.
- Common herbs that complement fish include dill and rosemary.
- Harris WS, Isley WL. Clinical trial evidence for the cardioprotective effects of omega-3 acids. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2001; 3(2): 174-179.
- Jho DH, Cole SM, Lee EM, Espat NJ. Role of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation in inflammation and malignancy. Integr cancer Ther. 2004 Jun;3(2):98-111.
- Kris-Etherton P, Harris WS, Appel Q. Fish consumption, fish oil, omega-3 fatty acids, and cardiovascular disease. Am HeartAssoc Sci Statement. 2002; 2747-2757.
- Marchioli R, Barzi F, Bomba E, et al. Early protection against sudden death by n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids after myocardial infarction. Circulation. 2002;105: 1897-1903.
- Singh RB, et al. Effect of an Indo-Mediterranean diet on progression of coronary artery disease in high risk patients. Lancet. 2002; 360:1455-1461.
- Burette ME, Koumenis IL, Edens MB, Tramposch KM, Clayton B, Bowton D, Chilton FH. Inhibition of leukotriene biosynthesis by a novel dietary fatty acid formulation in patients with atopic asthma: a randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, prospective trial. Clin Ther Mar. 2003; 25(3):972-979.
- Suzuki S et al. Daily omega-3 fatty acid intake and depression in Japanese patients with newly diagnosed lung cancer. Br I cancer. 2004 Feb;23:90(4):787-793. Von Schacky C, Angerer P, Kothny W, Thiesen K, Mudra H. The effect of dietary n-3 fatty acids on coronary atherosclerosis. Ann Intern Med. 1999; 130: 554-562.
- Steuerwald U, Weihe P, Jorgensen PJ, et al. Maternal seafood diet, methylmercury exposure, and neonatal neurologic function. J Pediatr. 2000:136(5);599605.
- Murata K, Weihe P, Budtz-Jorgensen E, Jorgensen PJ, Grandjean P. Delayed brainstem auditory evoked potential latencies in 14-year-old children exposed to methylmercury. J Pediatr. 2004:144;177-83.
- Mahaffey KR, Clickner RP, Bodurow CC. Blood organic mercury and dietary mercury intake: national health and nutrition examination survey, 1999 and 2000. Environ HealthPerspect. 2004;112(5):562-70.
- Jones RL, Sinks T, Schober SE, Pickett M. Blood mercury levels in young children and childbearing-aged women United States, 1999-2002. MMWR. 2004;53(43):1018-20.
- Centers for disease Control. CDC's Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals. Results by chemical group. July 2005.
- DeVoogt P, Brinkman UAT. Production, properties and usage of polychlorinated biphenyls. In: Kimbrough RD, Jensen A (eds). Halogenated Biphenyls, Terphenyls, Naphthalenes, Dibenzodioxins and Related Products. 2nd ed. Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1989:346.
- Carpenter DO. Contaminants in farmed salmon from around the world. Available at the Environmental Protection Agency website.
- Mozaffarian D, Rimm EB. Fish intake, contaminants, and human health. Evaluating the risks and the benefits. JAMA. 2006;296(15):1885-99.