Reel Benefits of Wild-Caught Salmon You Can’t Ignore

A fish is leaping out of the water with its body mid-air and water splashing below it.

Have you ever wondered why wild salmon is hailed as a superfood? Packed with essential nutrients and offering many health benefits, wild-caught salmon isn't just a tasty addition to your alpha-gal diet—here’s why it's a powerhouse for your health.

The information provided on this site is based on my personal experience living with alpha-gal syndrome. I consistently cite and link to expert sources, but nothing published on this site should be perceived as medical advice.

Alpha-gal sensitivities vary by person. You should understand your dietary restrictions, making any adjustments needed, and directing any questions to your physician.

Before I was diagnosed with alpha-gal syndrome, a medium rare filet was an occasional treat — like when I was dining out at a fancy restaurant, grilling to celebrate one of the many summer birthdays at our house, or celebrating Christmas Eve. Cut from the tip of the tenderloin, this fork tender cut is much more expensive than a pound of hamburger.

Now that half of my family has alpha-gal, salmon is our new filet mignon. Whether it’s baked or grilled, a wild salmon filet is one of my favorite special occasion meals. Because even when I get a great deal on a half salmon in the fresh fish case at Costco or grab a bag of their frozen filets, it’s still a lot pricer than opening a can of tuna.

It’s easy to understand why some people think all salmon is the same — after all, many people think beef is beef and pork is pork. But there are actually several Alaskan salmon varieties. Add Atlantic salmon and farmed salmon into the mix, and things just got even more complicated. This article will help you sort it all out!

A hand sprinkling spices onto a raw salmon fillet, garnished with rosemary, next to text reading "WILD SALMON VS FARM-RAISED: Which is healthier?" and a logo for Sage AlphaGal.

    

In This Article

Understanding Wild Salmon

Wild-caught salmon, distinguished by its rich, flavorful taste and firm texture, is born and raised in rivers and oceans. These fish exhibit specific behavioral patterns, often involving migration for spawning purposes.

From the icy waters of the Pacific Northwest to the pristine rivers of Alaska, wild salmon thrive in diverse environments, adapting to various ecosystems and contributing to their overall biodiversity.

A fish leaps out of clear water, creating splashes against a rocky underwater background.
Photo Credit: Canva.

Types of Wild Alaskan Salmon

Wild salmon encompasses various species, each with its distinct characteristics and habitats. Each type of wild salmon offers a unique taste profile, making some species more appropriate for specific recipes or cooking techniques. 

The most common wild salmon varieties are:

  1. Chinook, or King Salmon. Wild Pacific king salmon is recognized for its large size and rich flavor thanks to its higher fat content. Chinook salmon swim the longest distances upstream to spawn, necessitating their higher fat content for the journey.  
  2. Sockeye, or Red Salmon. Alaskan sockeye salmon is renowned for its vibrant red flesh and robust taste. It is typically harvested from the waters of the Pacific Ocean and the rivers of British Columbia. Sockeye is leaner than King salmon but still moist and flavorful.
  3. Coho, or Silver Salmon. Alaskan coho salmon is celebrated for its milder flavor and tender texture. It is found in the rivers and streams of the Pacific Northwest and the Great Lakes region. The flesh of this species tends to be a bit drier than sockeye salmon.
  4. Chum, or Keta Salmon. Chum salmon has a pale pink color and a delicate taste. It is commonly caught in the North Pacific and Arctic Oceans. 
  5. Pink, or Humpback Salmon. Pink salmon is known for their light color and delicate flavor. Pink salmon varieties are the laziest of all salmon species, often spawning at the mouths of rivers. They are the most abundant of all salmon and are almost exclusively used in canned salmon products for recipes like salmon salad.

Nutritional Benefits of Wild Salmon

Wild salmon is not just a delicious and versatile seafood but also a nutritional powerhouse with a wide array of health benefits. These benefits can be broken down into a subset of categories highlighting the remarkable qualities of this cold water fish.

A wooden table displaying a piece of raw salmon garnished with rosemary, an avocado, chia seeds, green olives, a small bottle of oil, capsules, and a mix of nuts.
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Excellent Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Known for its abundance of omega-3 fatty acids — conservative estimates show as much as six times more than eggs — salmon delivers heart health benefits by reducing inflammation and enhancing brain function. Introducing salmon as a regular protein in your diet may decrease the likelihood of heart disease, foster sound brain development and potentially alleviate symptoms of depression.

“As an Alaskan, I only eat wild-caught salmon, preferably wild-caught salmon that I have reeled in, and it just tastes so much better than farmed salmon. Our favorite variety of salmon is Sockeye. We like to make smoked salmon for snacks, grill fresh salmon, make fish and chips and so much more. We even cook all the offcuts down and make dog food and chicken food with it too.”

Abundant in Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Rich in essential nutrients, salmon provides a diverse array of vitamins and minerals crucial for overall health. It serves as an excellent source of vitamin D, promoting strong bones, bolstering immune function and aiding in calcium absorption. 

Furthermore, salmon is packed with B vitamins, notably B12, supporting nerve function and the production of red blood cells. Additionally, this nutrient-dense fish contains vital minerals like selenium, potassium, and zinc, which play pivotal roles in various bodily functions.

Doctor Holding Up Heart
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Heart Health and Cardiovascular Benefits

Salmon contributes significantly to cardiovascular health due to its abundance of omega-3s. These essential acids aid in lowering blood pressure, reducing triglyceride levels, lowering LDL cholesterol and increasing HDL cholesterol. By incorporating salmon into your diet regularly, you can decrease the likelihood of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases by fostering healthy blood circulation.

Brain Health and Cognitive Function

Omega-3 fatty acids play a vital role in brain health and cognitive function. Notably, DHA serves as a foundational element of brain cells, critical for optimal brain development and performance. Incorporating salmon into your diet regularly has been linked to better memory, improved cognitive abilities and a decreased risk of neurodegenerative disorders, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

A variety of healthy foods including salmon, blueberries, almonds, cherry tomatoes, avocado, garlic, olive oil, cocoa powder, chocolate, and a teapot with herbal tea arranged on a wooden tray.
Photo Credit: Canva.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties

Salmon boasts powerful anti-inflammatory properties thanks to its omega-3 fatty acid profile. While inflammation is a natural bodily response, persistent inflammation can contribute to conditions such as arthritis, heart disease and certain cancers. You can help diminish chronic inflammation by enjoying this delicious wild fish, thereby reducing the risk of these ailments and fostering general health.

Rich in High-Quality Protein

Renowned for its high-quality protein content, salmon offers all the essential amino acids vital for preserving and restoring body tissues. Protein plays a critical role in fostering muscle development, facilitating cell regeneration and bolstering immune function. Including salmon in your diet with easy recipes like air fryer salmon bites can help bolster muscle growth, expedite post-exercise recovery and fortify the immune system.

"The secret gem of wild salmon lies in an often overlooked part — the collars. These throw-away portions are a hidden treasure, but unless you have a connection with someone fishing wild-caught salmon, you might miss out. Grilled or baked, salmon collars are rich and succulent, proving that sometimes, the most delicious surprises come from the parts others discard."

Atlantic Salmon vs Pacific Salmon

Whether you’re standing at the seafood counter or scanning a restaurant menu, you might find yourself choosing between Atlantic salmon and Pacific salmon. To make the best choice, it’s important to know the key differences.

A raw Atlantic salmon fillet garnished with a lemon wedge and fresh dill is placed on a wooden cutting board.
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Atlantic Salmon

Most Atlantic salmon is farm-raised (more on that below), but wild Atlantic salmon does exist—although it’s rare due to overfishing. Farmed Atlantic salmon is a lighter pink, has a milder flavor, and a softer texture.

A filleted side of raw salmon is cut into portioned pieces on a wooden cutting board with a knife placed in the background.
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Pacific Salmon

Usually wild-caught, Pacific salmon boasts a firmer texture and bolder, more robust flavor. There are several varieties of wild salmon, each with its unique taste and texture. King salmon, for example, is prized for its rich, oily texture, while Sockeye is known for its deep red flesh and stronger flavor.

Circular fish farming pens float on a calm body of water in front of a mountainous backdrop under a partially cloudy sky.
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Farm-Raised Salmon vs. Wild-Caught Salmon

The difference between wild and farmed salmon is deeper than where they come from. Wild salmon, nurtured in natural environments such as rivers and oceans, develop robust flavors and textures due to their diverse, natural diets and active lifestyles. 

In contrast, farmed salmon are fed processed fish feed and are contained in a controlled aquatic environment known as salmon farms. As a result, they have a milder flavor and softer, fattier textures due to their feed and restricted movement. Studies have shown that farmed salmon contains lower levels of omega-3 fatty acids compared to wild-caught salmon. This highlights the connection between a fish’s diet, lifestyle, and nutritional benefits.

Additionally, concerns regarding contaminants and additives are more prevalent in farmed salmon. This stems from their confined conditions and potential exposure to pollutants, antibiotics, and pesticides used in aquaculture. 

Reeling in Wild Salmon

Wild salmon’s status as a nutritional superfood is reinforced by its rich reserves of omega-3 fatty acids. By incorporating wild-caught salmon into your diet, you will enjoy its robust and flavorful taste and cultivate a healthier lifestyle grounded in the wealth of benefits it provides. 

Do You Like Wild-Caught Salmon?

Do you have a favorite variety of salmon? How do you typically prepare it? Any additional tips or tricks to pass along? Share your experiences in the comments section below.

Portions of this article originally appeared on Food Drink Life.

Thank you for sharing!

6 thoughts on “Reel Benefits of Wild-Caught Salmon You Can’t Ignore”

  1. I love salmon and feel so fortunate to be part of a CSA that ships salmon from Alaska to my door every other month! Thanks for the recipe ideas!

  2. We eat wild caught salmon regularly because it is plentiful in Michigan where I live. Loved reading your post with all it’s helpful information.

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