Farmed salmon and wild salmon: Which is healthier?

Farmed salmon and wild salmon: Which is healthier?
PHOTO: SPH

You may have heard that farmed salmon is laden with pesticides, and that wild salmon is a healthier choice. Is that true?

It is often assumed that wild seafood is healthier because it comes from natural sources, while farmed seafood contains parasites and genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

But that's not the case, according to Jon Erik Steenslid, regional director of the Norwegian Seafood Council of Southeast Asia.

We speak to the seafood expert to reveal some surprising facts about farmed salmon. It's actually safer to consume farmed salmon than wild salmon!

1. Farmed salmon contains less parasites than wild salmon

Contrary to popular belief, wild salmon actually contains more contaminants than farmed salmon. This is largely due to their diet, says Jon, as wild salmon can easily contract parasites from its prey.

On the other hand, parasites can be kept to a minimum among farmed salmon as breeders are in control of what goes into its diet. For instance, farmed Norwegian salmon is only fed with manufactured feed that does not contain traces of parasites.

2. Farmed salmon is fresher than wild salmon

Yes, farmed salmon is fresher as it is available all year around. According to Jon, the availability and quality of wild salmon are seasonal, which is why it is often supplied to the market as frozen products.

On the other hand, farmed salmon is available fresh, and the quality can be controlled. In fact, most of the fresh salmon sold in Singapore supermarkets and restaurants are farmed, says Jon.

3. Farmed salmon does not always contain GMOs

If you are worried about genetically modified organisms in farmed salmon, opt for Norwegian salmon. GMOs are not allowed in Norway, so even the feed for the salmon is not genetically modified, says Jon.

If you are unsure about where the salmon is from, you can always check with the counter staff or look for the "Seafood From Norway" logo.

4. Farmed salmon is usually bred in clean and controlled conditions

According to Jon, farmed salmon is given feed with clean ingredients. But there's no control over these factors when it comes to wild salmon.

According to a study published in the journal Environmental Research, contaminant levels of dioxins, mercury and other substances were higher in wild salmon than in farmed salmon.

5. Farmed salmon is mostly raised in spacious environments

Not all farmed salmon is raised in overcrowded environments. The Norwegian regulations state that water should take up 97.5 per cent of space in a 200m by 50m fish pen, so that the salmon have ample room to swim.

The verdict?

While both wild and farmed salmon are generally healthy options, the determining factor lies in how you'd like to prepare your salmon.

Jon recommends opting for farmed salmon if you plan to have it raw, as farmed salmon contains less parasites than wild salmon.

Furthermore, farmed salmon is generally juicer compared to wild salmon, due to its higher healthy fat content.

This article was first published in Shape

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