Salmon is considered one of the world’s healthiest food items.
It is rich in proteins, vitamins, potassium, and trace mineral selenium.
Salmon is generally found in the Atlantic Ocean and the Pacific Ocean.
It is found to be beneficial for eyes, joint health, brain function and plays a protective role in case of heart diseases and cancer.
Salmon is popularly known as fatty fish or oily fish for one reason.
It is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3 fatty acids are healthy essential fatty acids. Two main omega 3 fatty acids found in fish are: Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Omega 3 fatty acids help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases, reduce inflammation, prevent stroke and offer a protective role in cancer.
Interestingly they also help in controlling obesity.
5 Reasons why Salmon helps in weight loss
Following points suggest as to why salmon, amongst other seafood, should make it to your weight loss regime.
1. Salmon is superior to other fish types in supporting weight loss
High protein diets help in weight loss and fish is one of the popular high protein sources.
A number of studies have investigated the effect of fish consumption on weight loss.
A clinical trial was conducted wherein subjects were givensalmon, cod or fish oil along with a low energy diet.
All three groups experienced weight loss but salmon consumption was found to be the most effective as it helped reduce inflammation.
Salmon consumption along with energy restricted diet is found to cause 1 kg more weight loss than energy restricted diet alone in 4 weeks.
2. It can influence appetite controlling hormones
Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that are involved in regulating your food intake.
Ghrelin is the hunger hormone while leptin suppresses appetite.
Leptin supports burning of calories.
Obese individuals are leptin resistant- they have high leptin levels but decreased sensitivity. Abnormalities in levels of these hormones can lead to development of obesity.
In the clinical trial, individuals were given cod, salmon, fish oil capsules or a diet without seafood.
Salmon brought about a decrease in body weight, leptin and insulin and an increase in ghrelin.
As per the study, fatty fish consumption (salmon) caused weight loss by modulating insulin, leptin and ghrelin levels.
3. Salmon oil also supports weight loss
Salmon as mentioned previously is rich in omega 3 fatty acids. University of Maryland Medical center recommends consuming a maximum of 3 g of omega 3 fatty acids daily.
A 3 ounce salmon serving can give you around 700-1800mg of omega fatty acids.
Salmon oil is shown to cause up to loss of 12% body weight in animal model.
The mechanism possibly involved in this is that either salmon oil promotes satiety thereby reducing food intake or it supports the breakdown of fats into energy.
However, this response is dependent on individual genetic makeup.
Supplementation of omega 3 fatty acids derived from salmon oil helps in reducing weight and insulin resistance in children who are at risk of developing obesity.
4. Salmon proteins can reduce obesity
Metabolic syndrome is a group of diseases affecting the cardiovascular system and other parameters such as blood glucose, insulin levels etc.
It is mostly seen as a consequence of obesity.
Fish proteins are proven to be beneficial for metabolic syndrome. In fact a particular type of proteins found in salmon is scientifically proven to help with weight loss.
In this study mice that were fed high fat and high sucrose diet and treated with salmon, proteins were found to have lower body weight, better liver functioning, less inflammation in fat tissues and a better balance between glucose and insulin levels.
It was concluded that salmon proteins reduce obesity like features found in metabolic syndrome.
5. Salmon calcitonin possesses anti-diabetic and anti-obesity properties
Salmon calcitonin is a bioactive component isolated from the fish.
This compound is similar to the hormone calcitonin secreted by the human thyroid gland. Most research focussed on salmon calcitonin is in relation to bone health.
Both short and long term administration of salmon calcitonin is found to be favourable for diabetes. Experiments conducted in an animal model showed that salmon calcitonin positively influenced glucose and insulin levels and also reduced body weight.
Salmon calcitonin is proven to help with postmenopausal obesity related changes in insulin and type 2 diabetes.
The mechanisms involved are reduction of body weight, improved glucose and insulin levels and reduced concentration of leptin (appetite regulating hormones).
Salmon calcitonin impacts your food intake.
It does so by regulating leptin levels. In an animal model salmon calcitonin is found to inhibit intake of high fat and high sucrose diet and thereby prevent diet induced obesity.
Other Benefits of Salmon
Good for cardiovascular and bone health risks linked with obesity
Obese or overweight individuals are susceptible to cardiovascular risks. [1,2,3]
Also, bone health is compromised in obese individuals. Weight loss can help improve these parameters.
Salmon consumption helps in improving these parameters along with promoting weight loss.
Results of a study focussed on the effect of fatty food consumption on blood pressure suggest that consuming salmon three times a week along with energy restricted diet can be as effective as fish oil consumption in reducing blood pressure.
Along with reducing BP it also helps reduce weight.
Salmon consumption also effectively reduces blood lipid and cholesterol levels in comparison to lean fish (cod) and fish oil.
Research proves that including farmed Atlantic salmon to your diet twice a week for four weeks can reduce risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Increased salmon consumption improved Vitamin D levels. Obese individuals are deficient in Vitamin D and Vitamin D is beneficial for bone health.
How to include salmon in your diet?
Baking, roasting, pan frying are few of the ways you can cook your salmon. Cooking helps reduce the concentration of organic pollutants.
Cholesterol oxidation products are the conversion of cholesterol by heat and oxygen into harmful products. Steaming leads to highest concentration of COPs.
Moderate concentrations of COPs are produced by pan frying and roasting. Roasting does not affect fat content of salmon while pan frying increases fat levels by 2 folds.
Incorporating salmon in your salads and burgers is a healthy way to start. Replacing animal meat with salmon is a good option.
Salmon soups and sushi is also a delight.
Salmon cooked with herbs and served with vegetables or lean proteins such as non fat cheese is a delicious health treat.
How much salmon to consume for weight loss?
A 3 ounce (85g) serving of salmon can supply you with 175 calories, 19 g of protein and 10 g fats.
Most research studies recommend consuming a portion size of 150 g of salmon three times a week.
Depending on other sources of protein which are included in your diet; you can replace other proteins with salmon or limit it to less than 3 servings.
But more than 3 servings are not advisable as it can increase your exposure to possible toxins.
Choose your fish wisely
Fish are susceptible to accumulation of various toxins and chemicals found in the environment, especially mercury.
However salmon have a short life span which reduces the chances of bioaccumulation of toxins.
Agencies associated with environmental protection generally release disclaimers as to which areas are safe for fishing in terms of toxin level of the area.
Also, it is recommended to limit fish consumption to moderate levels to avoid toxin exposure.
Wild salmon is preferred over farmed salmon in terms of nutritional content.
Also, farmed fish are given artificial diets which alter its nutritional quality and make it unsafe for consumption.
Most salmon that is marketed is farmed fish, yet farmed salmon and wild salmon have distinct physical features which can help you distinguish them.
Interestingly consuming farmed fish which are contaminated with organic pollutants can lead to obesity and metabolic syndrome.
Fishes are prone to infections by microbes. So make sure you buy fresh fish or store the fish under ideal conditions if it is not being consumed immediately after purchase.
Salmon definitely helps in weight loss.
Additionally, the omega 3 fatty acids in salmon give added benefits such as reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, reduction of inflammation and improved brain function.
Salmon can definitely be the one reason why you should try seafood. And for the seafood lovers, prioritize salmon consumption to achieve your healthy body weight.