Eat For Health: What About Salmon?

This is an excerpt from Dr. Fuhrman’s book Eat For Health.

All fish contain high levels of pollutants–even salmon. But, recent studies showed dangerous chemicals were ten-times higher in farm-raised salmon as compared to wild salmon. If you’re going to eat salmon, wild salmon is a better choice. Since there are growing concerns about the high pollution and artificial colors used in farm-raised salmon, wild salmon has become more desirable and its prices have gone up. However, a 2005 article in The New York Times reported that most fish labeled as wild Pacific or Alaskan salmon is just farm-raised salmon with a lying label. The New York Times tested salmon that was labeled as wild and sold in eight New York City stores and found that most of the fish was farm-raised, not wild.1

They were able to tell the farm-raised from the wild salmon because of the presence of an artificial, pink food dye manufactured by the pharmaceutical company Hoffman-La Roche. The company distributes their trademarked SalmoFan, which is similar to paint store swatches, so fish farmers can choose among various shades to make salmon have a pink-orange color. Salmon in the wild have that color naturally from eating pink crustaceans, but the commercially raised fish have a grey flesh from eating fishmeal. Europeans are suspicious of the dye, which was linked to retinal damage in people when taken as a sunless tanning pill.

Numerous studies also have found surprisingly high levels of PCBs and dioxin in farm-raised salmon. American health officials’ response was that this level of contamination should not stop consumers from eating salmon, but why should you unnecessarily expose yourself to known toxic carcinogens? If you eat salmon, eat only the wild Alaskan variety. If you eat fish once a week, use mostly the lower fat, less contaminated fish, such as tilapia, flounder, scallops, trout, or sole, but I urge you to eat fish infrequently since eating too much can promote heart disease, cancer, and atrial fibrillation.

1. Burros, M. Stores say wild salmon, but tests say farm bred. New York Times April 10, 2005. page 1.

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Robert Reeves - September 23, 2008 12:18 AM

I think your advice is off base in some respects. Numerous studies, including one published in JAMA in 2006, say that fatty fish such as salmon and trout should be eaten twice a week, and will result in reduction of heart trouble by 36% and overall death by 17%. The article says that the benefit exceeds any toxicity risk. Also, tilapia has recently been found to be the most contaminated fish of all, as practically all of it is farm raised under unsanitary conditions. Also, tilapia.flounder and sole do not have much if any of the beneficial omega-3 acids that salmon and other cold-water fish do. Any benefit from them is to substitute healthy protein for red meat, due to their lack of the beneficial fats. Please consider revising your advice, as there are numerous studies that counter your advice above.

Monty - September 23, 2008 2:25 PM

How many of these studies come from industry public-relations agents? We must be suspicious of any study that appears to be selling something. You'll find lots of these described in John Stauber's PR Watch and Spin Of The Day.

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