Swimming Upstream

By Charlyn Fargo

December 12, 2016 6 min read

Looking to boost your omega-3s? Both farm-raised and wild salmon are good choices. But which is better? Farmed Atlantic salmon, it turns out, outranks wild Pacific salmon, with 20 percent to 70 percent more omega-3 fat per serving. However, if you want fewer calories and more protein, wild salmon comes out the winner, according to Leslie Beck, a registered dietitian with the Medisys Clinic in Toronto.

The American Heart Association recommends eating seafood twice a week for its heart-healthy benefits. The two omega-3 fatty acids in fish, called eicosapentaenoic acid and docosahexaenoic acid, are thought to guard against heart attack, stroke and sudden cardiac death. The benefits of DHA and EPA are also tied to a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, macular degeneration and Alzheimer's disease. They also promote healthy eye and brain development in infants.

Salmon delivers more omega-3 fatty acids than most types of fatty fish. And farmed Atlantic salmon contains more omega-3 fatty acids than wild-caught salmon, according to the U. S. Department of Agriculture. Farmed salmon is also higher in total fat than wild salmon. Three ounces of Atlantic salmon has 175 calories, 10.5 grams of fat and 1,820 milligrams of DHA plus EPA. The same serving size of sockeye salmon contains 133 calories, 4.7 grams of fat and 730 milligrams of omega-3s.

Excessive heat can destroy omega-3s. Baking, broiling, steaming and poaching fish will cause minimal loss of beneficial omega-3s. Deep-frying and pan-frying fish at high temperatures can destroy omega-3 fats.

The bottom line is whether you choose farm-raised, wild-caught, canned or smoked salmon, it is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids. It's also packed with protein, B vitamins (especially B12), selenium and potassium. Just be careful how you cook it.

Q and A

Q: What role does a gluten-free diet play in reducing cancer risk?

A: Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye and barley that poses no risk to most people. For people who have celiac disease, gluten sets off a reaction (in which the body's immune system attacks its own cells) creating damage in the intestines that could increase risk of cancer. In this disease, closely following a gluten-free diet is vital. There may be a spectrum of other, separate gluten-related disorders, called "non-celiac gluten sensitivity" (NCGS) based on emerging research. For these people, symptoms like digestive tract pain, headache or fatigue improve when gluten is removed. So far, researchers don't consider it related to cancer risk. In either case, people avoiding gluten can eat a well-balanced diet, replacing the three gluten-containing grains with potatoes, whole-grain rice, soy, amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat, beans and starch or flour made from any of these. However, if you do not have celiac disease or NCGS, research shows no cancer protection from avoiding gluten. In fact, whole-grain foods containing gluten can be good sources of fiber and phytochemicals that may be cancer-protective.

Information courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research.


Muffins can be healthy if made with the right ingredients. Here's a recipe for winter squash muffins with cranberries from EatingWell magazine.


1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1 1/2 cups white whole-wheat flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 1/2 cups shredded raw winter squash, such as butternut

1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries or dried cranberries

1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped

2 large eggs

1/2 cup low-fat plain yogurt, regular or Greek

3 tablespoons canola oil

3 tablespoons pure maple syrup

1 small apple, peeled and shredded

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line 12 (1/2 cup) muffin cups with paper liners. Pulse oats in a food processor until ground to the texture of breadcrumbs. Transfer to a mixing bowl and whisk in flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, salt, allspice and nutmeg. Stir in squash, cranberries and pecans. Whisk eggs, yogurt, oil and syrup in another mixing bowl. Stir in apple. Add the squash mixture and fold until evenly moistened. Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them almost to the top. Bake until the muffins are golden brown and the tops spring back when lightly touched, 20 to 25 minutes Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool for at least 5 minutes before servings. Makes 12 muffins.

Per muffin: 161 calories, 4 grams of protein, 27 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of fat, 32 milligrams cholesterol, 3 grams fiber, 257 sodium.

Charlyn Fargo's weekly column, "Nutrition News," can be found at Creators.com

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