Why you should get addicted to salmon
If you’re looking for an easy and tasty way to boost your health this year, try adding salmon to your diet, for everything from bone health to brain function.
We turned to Rima Kleiner, MS, RD, registered dietitian with the National Fisheries Institute, for insight into the many health benefits of salmon.
It’s great for your heart
Seafood contains long-chain omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, which help protect the heart by slowing down plaque build-up in the arteries and reducing the risk of dying from a heart attack by one-third, explains Kleiner. Since more than 200,000 women die from heart attacks each year, adding salmon to your diet is a smart choice. “Salmon, which is particularly rich in omega-3s, is a no-brainer food for women to eat more of for heart health.”
Learn about the types of salmon you should be eating >>
It boosts brain function
The omega-3s in salmon not only help our hearts, they also benefit the brain. “Studies have found that omega-3s may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and slowing cognitive decline as we age,” says Kleiner. “In fact, the Alzheimer’s Association recommends that people eat more omega-3 fish, like salmon.” Fish, like salmon, may also help prevent depression. Kleiner notes that recent studies have found that pregnant women who eat no seafood during pregnancy are twice as likely to experience depression as those who eat seafood twice a week.
It provides vitamin D for bone health
Vitamin D helps our bodies absorb calcium and promote healthy bones — and salmon has it. Kleiner explains that not getting enough vitamin D puts children at risk for rickets (which is experiencing resurgence in the U.S.) and osteomalacia in adults, which can result in weak bones that are more likely to fracture. We get most of our vitamin D from sun exposure, but since sun exposure is more limited during winter months and is also reduced by using sunscreen, eating salmon may help you meet your vitamin D needs, she says. “While few foods naturally contain vitamin D, fatty fish like salmon do contain vitamin D. Researchers suggest that omega-3s found in salmon can help maintain bone density.”
It may help you sleep
While there is not a lot of research on salmon and improved sleep, it does contain vitamin B6, and vitamin B6-rich foods may help improve sleep because vitamin B6 is necessary for the production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin, explains Kleiner. “Most seafood, including salmon, contains a variety of B vitamins, including B6.”
It’s good for eye health
The omega-3 fatty acid DHA found in salmon may also help slow damage from macular degeneration by protecting the eye cells from sunlight and free radicals, explains Kleiner. “One study found that an omega-3-rich diet reduced the risk of macular degeneration by 30 percent,” she says. “The American Optometric Association advises eating a diet rich in omega-3 foods, including salmon, [and] is linked to healthy eyes.”