The price of farm-raised, Norwegian salmon is the highest it’s been in 30 years—and it’s not just because of the increasing global demand for omega-3-packed protein. An outbreak of parasitic sea lice infiltrated Norway’s salmon farms late last year and is expected to cut output by 5 percent in the first half of 2016. Norwegian fish farms, which produce about half of the world’s farmed salmon, flooded European and American markets with thousands of tons of cheap salmon in 2015 due to a ban on exports to Russia. This oversupply resulted in a 10 to 20 percent decrease in cost to consumers, but after the parasitic-caused shortage, export prices have shockingly spiked as much as 53 percent.
But farmed salmon is also a Jekyll and Hyde sort of fish; allow us to explain. Farmed salmon boasts the second-highest amount of omega-3s of all fish, coming in at 557 mg per ounce. (To give you some perspective, Atlantic cod only has 52 and halibut has 132.) Research shows that these essential nutrients help ward of heart disease, metabolism-slowing inflammation, and diabetes. However, those high levels of omega-3s come at a cost—and we’re not just talking about money. Soy-fed, farm-raised salmon pairs its high omega-3 levels with an equal amount of omega-6s. While the two fatty acids share a name, omega-6s are the polar opposite of omega-3s, and they actually increase the inflammation that omega-3s combat. (Translation: You won’t be able to benefit from all those omega-3s anyway!) To make matters worse, farmed salmon is usually dyed pink, has been found to be high in cancer-causing PCBs, and has only one-fourth the bone-strengthening vitamin D of its wild cousins.
Lucky for you, there are flat-belly-approved alternatives to farmed Atlantic salmon (fyi, it’s filled with tapeworms, lice, and feces). A three ounce cooked portion of wild sockeye salmon has 112 percent of your recommended intake of vitamin D. This vitamin, which is only ingested through animal products or produced in your skin by sun exposure, plays an important role in boosting heart health and helps your body absorb calcium. Another option is pink salmon: A fish native to the cold waters of the Pacific and Arctic Oceans and is packed with lean protein, heart-healthy omega-3s, and extremely low in immunity-damaging mercury for a wild fish. For more healthy alternatives, like Atlantic mackerel, halibut, sardines, and more, check out our exclusive report on Every Popular Fish—Ranked for Nutritional Benefits!