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Monday, Apr 24, 2017

Canned salmon, sardines a convenient source of heart-healthy omega-3 fats

Lists of heart-healthy foods invariably include fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Though they are excellent sources of lean protein, our local snapper and grouper don't qualify -- balmy Florida waters don't require them to bulk up with fat in order to stay warm. It's coldwater fish such as salmon, sardines and herring that fit this particular bill. Fresh salmon is widely available, but most of it is farmed and, frankly, I'm not a fan. I don't think it tastes as good as wild-caught, and I'm uncomfortable with the relatively high levels of PCBs and other contaminants reported in farmed salmon. The environmental issues associated with raising them are another concern. In a “Health Food Face-Off” between the two types of fish, Prevention magazine's website gives the advantage to wild salmon by a wide margin. The article points out that while farmed salmon contains slightly more omega-3s than wild, it also has more than three times the saturated fat -- just what the doctor did not order. Wild salmon from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska is seasonal and expensive, especially here in the far corner of the continent, so it's a fairly rare treat in our house. Instead, I keep canned salmon on my pantry shelf. It has the nutritional advantages of fresh, plus a calcium bonus if you crush and mix in the soft bones. It's great in salads, casseroles and burgers.