January 2016 update: New research suggests that restricting the amino acid methionine may be a very important anti-cancer and anti-aging strategy. “ If I had cancer, I would certainly seek to restrict methionine in my diet, probably to 1 gram a day ” says Australian researcher Dr. Paul Cavuoto. Animal muscle is rich in methionine. A half a small can of salmon has around 700 mg. If you have cancer, limit animals, including salmon.
Pink salmon–yes, the trash salmon you find in cans– is the cleanest species, according to research by Canadian scientists, and two small cans a week will satisfy omega 3 recommendations.
How about canned sockeye?
It’s got more flavor, and ounce for ounce, more fat and pollutants than pink. About 1 can a week should meet your minimum omega 3 needs. (It’s apparently got more Vitamin D than other salmon species–another plus.)
Measuring omega 3s in canned salmon is not an exact science, however. All cans are not the same, and when declaring omega 3s, companies often rely on a government average. But the 3s will vary from fish to fish, depending on what rivers they’re from, the water temperature and depth, the season/month they’re caught and what they eat.
So what to look for?
Is there grey matter in your canned salmon? That’s a good thing. Eat it. It’s fat–the layer of it right next to the skin, white in its raw state and grey when it’s cooked. (Canned salmon is cooked in the can.)
Is there juice? It likely contains oils, so consume it.
And what about the skin? Get rid of it. Pollutants concentrate there.
A final suggestion about canned salmon: With all the controversy about Bisphenol A, a chemical used as glue to keep the cans together, choose containers that are BPA free.
Here’s the list you’ve been waiting for. Note the source of the salmon. (Remember the cleanest is Bering Sea, then northern BC and southern Alaska.) The recommended servings per week meet the minimum dosage of omega 3s recommended by several organizations and are based on info from the suppliers. Unless otherwise stated, all cans are the small sizes (generally 7.5 oz/213 grams, but sometimes smaller.)
SALMON CANS WITH BPA
Cloverleaf and Bumblebee (sister companies)– in the process of converting and hope to have all cans BPA free by end of 2012 (They have not responded to an inquiry I send end of 2012. Keep checking back for an update.)
Wild Planet- But their sardines are in BPA-free cans, and a spokesperson says they expect BPA-free canned salmon by 2014
BPA FREE CONTAINERS –But there’s a little “but” here. Even companies that claim to be BPA free have instances where BPA is found in their cans. Often this is because old canning machinery still have traces that migrate into food.
Trident’s Royal Red and Royal Pink
Available at Walmart’s.
Canned species: Pink and sockeye (red).
Source of salmon: Alaska wild salmon.
Servings/week needed: Every can I’ve sampled of the red (sockeye) is full of grey stuff– healthy fat. That means it’s a rich source of omega 3s. That also means 1/2 of a large can/week of sockeye should be sufficient. If you go for pink, which is less fatty, eat a little more.
Small Alaskan company, winner of online taste test and raved about in Chowhound, touted by health guru, Dr. Andrew Weil. Order online at www.vitalchoice.com
Canned species: Sockeye
Source of salmon: Southern Alaska and northern BC primarily
Servings/week needed: Skinless/boneless 1.5 cans Traditional Just over 1
Third generation family owned company. Order online at Amazon.
Species: Pink (Coho has sugar added)
Source: Alaska (But note that salmon is “wild caught” and not “wild.” That means the salmon are birthed in hatcheries, then released into the wild–a popular form of salmon quasi- farming in Alaska known as “ranching.” According to salmon expert Dr. David Welch, because “wild caught” are so tiny when released, they’re very similar to wild in terms of pollutants–and often it’s hard to know which kind you’re eating.)
Servings/week: Skinless/boneless 1 can Traditional 3/4 can
Note: Their pouches are not BPA free. Salmon sold in pouches is “pouched” in Thailand and sourced in Alaska or Russia. In terms of contaminants, they should be pretty much the same, says one expert. (If Russian salmon is Atlantic and not Pacific salmon, however, avoid it. It could have grown up near a large nuclear sub base.)
Chicken of the Sea
Species: Pink and sockeye (red)
Servings/wk: Pink skinless/boneless in small 5 oz cans 3.5 cans
Pink and red traditional sold in large cans only. Pink almost 1 can. Red 3/4 of a can.
Species: Sockeye, pink and chum (called tea rose keta)
Source: Alaska and BC
Servings/wk: Pink skinless/boneless without salt Almost 2 cans
Pink skinless/boneless (with salt) Just over 1 can
Pink traditional and sockeye 1 can
Tea rose keta (chum): Remember what we said about chum in the post on Pacific salmon? It’s very clean but also low in omega 3s. If you’ve consumed your weekly ration of other species and still want more, add some chum.
Whole Foods 365 Brand (but they recently switched to BPA free, so is there old stock on the shelves? Nobody can say for sure.)
Species: Pink and sockeye
Source: Alaska (but “wild caught”)
Servings/wk: Pink skinless boneless Just over 2 small cans
Pink traditional in large can only 1/2 can
Sockeye 1 1/3 cans
Oceans (available in Canada, not US)
Species: Pink and Sockeye
Source: Alaska and BC
Servings/wk: Almost 2 cans
Trader Joe’s House Brand
Species: Pink and sockeye (red)
Servings/wk: would not reveal information on omega 3s. Best guess: Go for the 2 cans pink and 1 can sockeye estimates.
Species: Pink and sockeye
Sources: Oregon, Washington, BC, Alaska and unfortunately, source not specified on can
Servings/wk: Skinless/boneless 2 cans Traditional and No Salt 1 can
Small Alaskan company selling salmon in BPA free glass jars. Order online at www.briggsway.com
Species: Sockeye, sometimes coho
Source: Alaska, north of Aleutians in Bristol Bay, off the Bering Sea
Servings/wk: They don’t have an omega 3 count, but best guess is 1.5 jars of the old style, which has a bit of the grey fat, they say. Briggsway, if you’re listening, please make sure you include that grey fat.
As we all know, if you’re counting on salmon for its heart, brain and anti cancer benefits, then you’ve got to EAT THE FAT. Here’s a short video showing where to find it.
©2012 Harriet Sugar Miller For permission to reprint, media outlets should contact email@example.com. Individual bloggers, feel free to reblog and credit.
Excellent article! You sure did a lot of research!! Thanks so much!!! Leni
Wonderfully informative article. No mention, however, of the obvious possibilities of radiation from the April 2011 Fukushima disaster. This concerns me, because the same damaged reactors that were spewing radiation into the ocean & the air a year ago are STILL spewing it out (Japanese duct tape notwithstanding).
No one talks about it & few tests have been made because no one wants to face up to the truth. Two huge ocean currents flow eastward from the Japanese coast, one sweeping north to Alaska & the other south to California & probably Mexico — so are ANY fish from the west coast of North America safe anymore?
Unpleasant, I know, but please THINK about it, people!
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Kay, I’ve researched this thoroughly, and it seems that to the best of our knowledge at the present moment, our salmon is not a problem. https://eatandbeatcancer.wordpress.com/2012/03/27/salmon-says-an-anti-cancer-investigation-part-3-radiation-and-the-wild-pacific/#more-683
Just wanted to add that while our salmon appear to be safe at this point (They don’t migrate to Japan or to where those currents carrying Fukushima’s footprints are currently at), our tuna could be problematic, as you suggest. They do migrate that far. So do some halibut, although probably not Alaskan halibut. And, yes, as you also suggest, those currents continue to move– and a few years from now, could be too close for comfort, affecting even our non-migratory fish.
Very informative article, thanks! Now, I would specifically like the Alaska wild canned products…do any of the companies you mentioned who claim AK wild, and actually seem to ensure that they are caught in AK, sell in supermarkets? There’s just so much to be skeptic about, i.e., “wild” vs. “wild-caught”,etc., . P.S. the video sent me to a ‘page not found.’ Thanks, Julie
Chicken of the Sea is in many standard supermarkets. Both the cans and pouches are BPA-free. However, I’m checking again with the consumer affairs rep to make sure it’s wild and not wild-caught–and as you likely know, much of the salmon from Alaska is the latter (meaning the salmon are hatched in a hatchery, then released into the wild.) p.s. The video link will be fixed momentarily. Thanks for pointing out the glitch.
Good news. Trident’s Royal Red (sockeye) and Royal Pink salmons are BPA-free and caught wild in Alaska. You can buy them at Walmart. I love the sockeye because it’s full of the grey stuff–which is healthy fat.
RE: Trident—I have new information on them. Trident is a huge fish mega-corp, and the salmon in those cans is indeed wild Alaska…however, for those purists and us economy folks, I know now that the fish, although caught in AK, is shipped to China for processing…most of the salmon and all of their crab…and then of course back to grocery shelves.
The fishery at Ugashik in King Salmon AK is small, and locally caught (wild) and processed, and of course hence, more expensive. Guess we can’t have it all, but just wanted to share this info. Thanks!
Thanks, Julie, for sharing that info. As with everything in life, nothing’s perfect, right?
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Chicken of the Sea 14.75 OZ Pink Salmon is from Thailand, not Alaska anymore.
Thanks, ChiPing, for piping in. It may just be that the company is packaging their salmon in Thailand, which companies do for salmon in pouches. From what I understand, pouched salmon, although packaged in Thailand, is actually from Alaska or Russia, and there’s apparently no way to know country of origin.
I’ll double check with my sources. What makes you think their salmon is from Thailand?
I checked with the company, and Chicken of the Sea salmon is always ocean caught off Alaska. They sometimes package it in Thailand, but rest assured, it’s Alaskan. Thanks for your due diligence.
Also, the upper incipient lethal temperature for pink salmon is just under 26 degrees Celsius. No pink salmon are “from” Thailand because pink salmon can not live in the waters in and off of Thailand. Boning is labor intensive work that is almost always done in Asia where labor prices are much cheaper. Anytime you buy skinless, boneless, fish in can that was caught in the Pacific Ocean it will almost always have been processed in an Asian boning and canning facility.
Thank you so much for this list! I talked to someone today at Vital Choice, and he said that there are no sockeye hatcheries yet, so all sockeye is wild. Is that true? Also, I bought some frozen wild sockeye from Trader Joe’s and noticed that it said “product of Russia”. So I did a some research on Russian wild salmon and talked to someone, and he said Russia has the least amount of hatcheries, even less than Alaska. Supposedly Russia has high quality wild salmon. Do you know anything about Russian wild salmon? Thanks!
The quality of Russian sockeye salmon should be every bit as good as Alaskan, at least up until the point they are taken out of the water. But one big difference is the management of the fisheries themselves. Alaskan Salmon Fishery management is a model in sustainable fishing. Russia lacks the ability to police the fisheries on their Pacific Coast and as a result the number of fish caught and sold vastly exceeds the numbers Russian Authorities set out as the legal limit. The other issue comes in the transportation chain. Alaskan fishermen do a decent (not good for sure, but decent) job of storing the fish at the proper temperature while on the way back to being processed. Are these Russian and Asian fishermen who aren’t even fishing legally in many cases being as careful as their American counterparts?