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Save vs. Splurge: Pacific or Atlantic Salmon (farmed vs. wild)

Which is Healthier -- Farmed or Wild Salmon?

Wild salmon may be a healthier choice than farmed salmon. Studies have shown that farmed salmon may contain up to 10 times the concentration of contaminants and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBS) than wild salmon stocks, because of what farmed salmon are fed. However, other studies have found that farmed and wild salmon contain similar levels of contaminants.

The farmed fish that's available in the United States generally comes from Maine, Washington, Canada and Chile, and, according to the Washington State Department of Health, these sources of salmon have lower contaminant levels than fish farmed in Europe. Farmed salmon is also treated with antibiotics and fed a dye that turns the flesh of the fish pink, instead of its usual gray color.

Farmed salmon is fattier than wild salmon. But it's actually lower in good-for-you omega-3 fatty acids because the feed it's given contains plant oils. Because of contaminant risks, it's recommended that farmed salmon be cooked to reduce the fat content and that the skin and fatty tissue be removed before eating.

Or, you can simply splurge for the wild salmon. It has 20 percent higher protein content and 20 percent lower fat content than farmed salmon. More on that on the next page.