Should you eat salmon? Is it safe? Is red better than pink? Here’s my take.
Mar 22, 2008 (Updated Mar 23, 2008)
Review by henry_thoreau
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Affordable, convenient, and (fairly) tasty dietary protein. Provides Omega-3's and calcium.
Cons:I'd prefer fresh salmon. But my budget prefers this variety.
The Bottom Line: As a kid I loved canned salmon, and (in measured, occasional doses) it still gratifies. At the right price, it's like a cheaper--and much healthier--version of Spam. ;-)
Prefatory note: My generous five-star rating should not imply that this product is fully as good as FRESH salmon. Instead, my rating signifies that this product is fully as good as, if not better than, most of its ilk (i.e., CANNED, pink salmon).
Recommend this product?
Though we've recently been hearing dire news about the shortage of wild "West Coast" salmon, there's presently no comparable shortage of wild Alaskan pink salmon. The latter--when canned--still constitutes a relatively low-cost source of (arguably) high quality dietary protein, not to mention other nutrients. Though canned salmon might not seem a "sophisticated" menu item, I've more or less loved this stuff ever since I was a kid. Well, actually, when I was kid in the 1960s, it was occasionally the red (rather than the pink) salmon that I ate. However, given that the red variety nowadays costs perhaps three times more than the pink; and given that I very recently tried some canned red salmon (from a competing company, not Chicken of the Sea) and found neither its (bland) flavor nor its (dry) texture as pleasing as what this pink variety offers, I'm now doubly satisfied with the pink; in fact, I deem it the preferable--not the "next-best"--canned alternative. [Note: Based on the first comment I received (from a native Alaskan) regarding this review, I don't doubt that most Alaskans will cringe at the very thought of eating PINK salmon, heh.]
In any case, I've tried several other brands of canned, pink salmon, and this Chicken of the Sea version is at least as good as, if not slightly better than, most of its ilk. And it rekindles my memories of an unpretentious, middleclass childhood. (I'm now well advanced into an unpretentious, middleclass, middle-age stage of life.)
These days I eat a lot of soy burgers (plus various dried beans and raw nuts) but relatively little "animal" protein. Nevertheless, I'm not (quite) 100% vegetarian, much less vegan. And as often as once weekly (or at least once monthly) I enjoy some Alaskan salmon, even if it's merely the relatively cheap, canned stuff.
Is it good (and safe) to eat fish nowadays?
Is consumption of Alaskan salmon healthy? In recent years I've heard both good and bad things. On the one hand, it's laden with heart-healthy "omega-3" fatty acids; on the other hand, I've heard that salmon--especially the farm-raised variety--might be dangerously tainted with various unhealthy substances. This prompted me always to note whether the salmon I buy is labeled "wild caught". If I don't see those words, that's the first clue that it might be farm-raised.
Accordingly, I found it reassuring to see that the words "wild caught" do appear in one place on the back of this product's can (label).
Additionally, note the following statement (via a web page at chickenofthesea.com):
"All Chicken of the Sea salmon is wild-caught in the waters of the Pacific. None of our canned and pouched salmon, which include traditional red salmon, traditional pink salmon and boneless & skinless pink salmon, are farm-raised."
Dr. Joel Fuhrman, who inspired me to adopt my own variant of his dietary approach, has relatively little good to say about fish in general, reporting that "fish is among the most polluted foods we eat, and it may place consumers at high risk for various cancers". [Keep in mind that vegetarian Fuhrman says comparable things about all "animal" foods, including milk.] But even Fuhrman concedes (on page 129 of his popular 2003 book Eat to Live) that salmon is among those fish species lowest in mercury contamination (whereas tuna and mackerel are among the worst).
In any case, I've heard even the most fear-inspiring critics of "polluted" farm-raised salmon opine that perhaps eating "one serving per month" might be reasonably safe; and I myself figure that eating one can of wild-caught Alaskan salmon per week should be a tolerable risk, given that the rest of my diet is extremely low in animal foods nowadays.
Besides, even the fresh produce that I daily consume is polluted to some degree with pesticide residues. Face it; virtually our entire food (and water) supply is tainted with (hopefully trivial) amounts of substances I'd rather not think too much about. If I can't absolutely (or affordably) escape all such contaminants, at least I can choose foods that otherwise are inherently healthful. And Alaskan salmon can be classed among those.
For example, one modest, fourth-of-a-cup (63-gram) serving of this Chicken of the Sea Alaskan pink salmon contains 1000 milligrams of a combination of the two heart-healthy Omega-3 fatty acids "EPA" and "DHA"; that's a whopping 625% of the 160-milligram recommended daily value for such a combination of Omega-3's.
Canned salmon (including all those soft, fully cooked bones) is also a noteworthy source of calcium. Each fourth-of-a-cup (63-gram) serving provides 10% of the RDA.
Not surprisingly, there's a significant amount of high quality protein--12 grams--to be had from that same modest serving. Given that there are seven such servings per 14.75-ounce (418-gram) can of this Chicken of the Sea product; and given that I generally find it hard to settle for less than (almost) half a can per meal, I figure I'm getting plenty of protein by indulging in some salmon about once weekly.
On a not-so-cheery note, each 63-gram serving also contains 40 milligrams of cholesterol, which is 13% of the RDA. But given that rest of my diet is so low in cholesterol; and given that salmon is otherwise so heart-healthy, I don't feel too guilty about enjoying up to one can per week.
Another not-so-likable ingredient in canned salmon is sodium (salt). Each 63-gram serving contains 270 milligrams of sodium, which is 11% of the RDA. Therefore, if I eat half a can, I ingest about 945 milligrams of sodium (38.5% of the RDA). Again, given that rest of my diet is so low in salt, I don't feel too guilty. Besides, I've monitored my blood pressure hours before and hours after eating canned salmon; and I haven't detected any significant increase in BP. If you (unlike me) have high blood pressure, you might want to curtail your consumption of sodium in countless edible products, not just canned salmon.
You might want to check out Chicken of the Sea's web site for still more information about their several "salmon" products. I was especially intrigued to see their map indicating the areas of Alaskan coastline where, respectively, their pink and red salmon are wild-caught. Considering the much wider range of the pink versus the red salmon, it's little surprise to me that the pink is much cheaper than the red. I recently saw this product on sale for only $1.26 per can, and I stocked up big-time (which means, by the laws of Murphy, that I'll disgustedly see it advertised for only 98 cents sometime next week). ;-)
Though I occasionally favor such familiar recipes as "baked salmon cakes" (not to mention the lightly browned-in-olive-oil "salmon burgers" featured on the back of the can of this Chicken of the Sea Pink Salmon), I'm not above enjoying salmon straight from the can (whether heated or not). In that culinary mode, I think of it as a healthier version of the Spam that I also relished as a kid in the sixties but which I wouldn't touch with the proverbial pole at this (somewhat) more enlightened stage of life. :-)
Nutrition Facts ("RDV" means "recommended daily value", based on a 2000-calorie diet):
Ingredients: Pink salmon; salt
Serving Size: 1/4 cup
Calories from Fat: 45
Total Fat: 5.00 g. (8% of the RDV)
Saturated Fat: 1.00 g. (6% of the RDV)
Trans Fat: 0 g.
Polyunsaturated Fat: 2 g
Monounsaturated Fat: 1.5 g
Cholesterol: 40.00 mg. (13% of the RDV)
Sodium: 270.00 mg. (11% of the RDV)
Total Carbohydrates: 0 g.
Dietary Fiber: 0 g.
Sugars: 0 g.
Protein: 12.00 g.
Vitamin A: 0% of the RDV
Vitamin C: 0% of the RDV
Calcium: 10% of the RDV
Iron: 2% of the RDV
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