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Ask Tufts Experts October 2015 Issue

Q. Is it true that farmed salmon do not contain astaxanthin, because the fish is dyed rather than pink from consuming algae like wild salmon? Is this a reason to prefer wild salmon?

A. Jensine Yang, an intern at Tufts’ Frances Stern Nutrition Center, explains: “Actually, both wild and farmed salmon contain astaxanthin, a carotenoid that gives salmon their reddish-orange hue. While wild salmon obtain astaxanthin from the algae that they eat, farmed salmon obtain natural or added astaxanthin from their formulated feed. Studies have found that mercury, antibiotics and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in wild and farmed salmon are relatively low and unlikely to be a health concern. However, there are a few differences between the nutrient content of wild and farmed salmon, though both are great sources of protein and healthy fats. According to the USDA, farmed salmon tend to have higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids but are also higher in sodium and saturated fat compared to wild salmon. Of course, the nutritional value depends on the species of salmon as well. For instance, per 100 grams of cooked salmon, wild Chinook has nearly twice the amount of saturated fat as farm-raised Coho.”

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