Can You Eat Salmon Skin?
It's crunchy, salty, and comes with the fish already, but is salmon skin safe to eat? With some caveats, the answer is yes. Read on to find out what the deal is with consuming salmon skin.
The Power of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Salmon itself is rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Because they live in such cold temperatures, salmon need the fat in order to stay warm in the ocean. The body can't naturally produce omega-3's, so it's vital for people to get them through their diets.
There are a ton of benefits from omega-3 fatty acids. Here are a few, according to WebMD:
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce triglycerides, a type of fat found in the blood
- Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
- Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
- Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke
- Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease
Omega-3's have also been linked to fighting depression and anxiety, protecting the brain from degeneration, improving eye health, and lowering inflammation. They can even help your skin stay healthy and elastic.
The Skinny on the Skin
Getting omega-3 fatty acids from your diet is better (and cheaper!) than taking it in supplement form. Much of the fat on a piece of salmon lies just below the skin, so removing the skin can take away some of the omega-3 benefits. Leaving the skin on while cooking also helps the salmon keep its moisture.
The highest concentration of omega-3 are found on the skin itself, which is why eating salmon skin can definitely be good for you. Salmon skin also contains even more of the same protein that's found in the fish.
Furthermore, a study from *Marine Drugs* found that salmon skin might be able to help treat type 2 diabetes. It was shown to have powerful antioxidant properties when given to test subjects, and was even able to help with wounds caused by diabetes.
A Point of Caution
Salmon can contain pollutants and contaminants from the water it comes from. The most notorious of these are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs)—the synthetic chemicals used in electrical equipment and as additives to products like paint and plastic. PCB's, which can cause cancer, are absorbed through the skin of the salmon. Salmon can also contain methylmercury, which is used in things like fluorescent lights and batteries. Both of these have been linked to health problems, especially in pregnant women. That's why, if you're pregnant, it might be a safe bet to avoid eating salmon skin.
The Source Matters
It's important to pay attention to where your salmon comes from. The skin of the fish has a higher likelihood of being contaminated by pollutants in the water, depending on where it comes from. One study found that salmon from the Great Lakes had 50 percent less pesticides with the skin off than with the skin on.
Salmon from the Atlantic Ocean is more likely to be polluted than salmon from the Pacific. A study from Indiana University found that farmed salmon tend to have more contaminants than wild-caught salmon. Wild-caught Pacific salmon is the best bet.
Ideas for Salmon Skin
If you're not interested in leaving salmon skin on your piece of fish with dinner, think about saving it for another purpose. Crispy salmon skin that's been baked can be used as a carbohydrate-free topping for salad, or eaten as a snack like chips. Depending on how it is cooked, the texture can be similar to chicken skin and bacon, so don't be afraid to think creatively when it comes to salmon skin.