Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A Piece of the Pie - Salmon: Red = Better?


Ever get a headache from just looking at the long list of non-understandable ingredients, well because of R background in food and nutrition., I now have some basic understanding of what I am looking at when picking up processed food at the supermarket. Learning about the food industry and as well as food in general has definitely been enlightening. Therefore, I constantly badgered R to write something, and now he is finally on board and will star in a new section called: A Piece of the Pie (shorten to APP if you are looking for tags), because really all this information is just a piece of the pie. Also all the information provided on here are base purely on R's understanding of the subject. So without further ado....

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Did you ever order a serving of salmon from your favourite restaurant and realize it was not the colour you were expecting? The pan-fried white-ish “wild salmon” was lying on the plate in front of you; the greens on the side makes the grey-ish fish even less appetizing. Where is the nice orange colour or the brilliant red you are so accustom to? 

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Salmon are “what they eat”; the pigment in their diet will change the colour of their flesh. In the wild, salmon consumes mainly krill (shrimp like crustaceans), the pigments in the krill (carotenoid and astaxanthin) will produce the orange-red colour seen in their flesh. While for the farmed salmon, the feed also contains natural or artificial carotenoid or astaxanthin to create the same effect. Therefore, if you found your salmon not in the colour of orange-pink, it is mostly likely wild (because their diet varies, and some are bratty eaters). Or, the feed in the fish farm contains insufficient pigments.  Also, there is one exception: the White Spring salmon, this salmon do not genetically show the carotenoid in the flesh.

So, is the orange-pink salmon more nutritious than the white one? Since there is more pigment and carotenoid? Perosnally, I do not think so.
1) Most of pigment in salmon is astaxanthin, which possesses less anti-oxidation activity than most carotenoid does.
2) Astaxanthin is not converted to vitamin A
3) Carrot is much better source for the carotenoid.

1) The pigment in the feed makes salmon orange-pink.
2) White salmon may not consume sufficient level of carotenoid in their diet.
3) White salmon is not much different than orange-pink salmon in terms of nutritional value. 

PS: If you have any question, you can email Also any comment or feedback on this new section is more than welcomed :).


Joseph Y. January 4, 2012 at 6:55 PM

Very informative. I also equate red color to good salmon. I even shun pink salmons thinking they are lower quality. Now I know better. Thanks for the post.

Ben January 4, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Go R! I learned something new in your piece of article ! good job!

kristi January 6, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Pink salmon has a slightly lower fat content. However, I actually like it. Your article is very informative. I think restaurants sometimes buy cheaper varieties of salmon....and may not be the type we are used to.

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