Smoked salmon: how to choose it

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Joe Dispenza

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Smoked salmon: nutritional profile

Il smoked salmon it is defined as such after being treated with hot or cold smoke, a method that gives the salmon a different taste and texture. 


With the heat treatment, is typically smoked at a temperature of 120-180 ° F, which allows it to cook in depth, compared to the cold smoked salmon, which is seasoned in salt for up to 24 hours before being smoked at 75-85 ° F. 


Hot smoked salmon is high in protein with about 22g per 85g serving, but it's also high in salt (1,8g per serving - 30% of the reference intake). 


Being a fat fish, hot smoked salmon is relatively rich in fat. One serving contains approximately 7,5g of unsaturated fat, which includes omega 3 and approximately 1,6g of saturated fat.


Cold smoked salmon is very similar nutritionally to hot smoked salmon in that it is rich in protein with 19g per serving of 85g and is a little higher in unsaturated fat with 8,6g per serving and 1,8g of saturated fat. 


Since cold smoked salmon is typically seasoned in salt, its salt content is higher with 2,5g per serving, making it 40% higher than the reference intake.


Both types of smoked salmon are one good source of B vitamins (needed for energy), the selenium, which helps our immune system function properly and prevents damage to our cells and tissues, and the vitamin D to help regulate calcium and phosphate levels within the body. 


Smoked salmon: quality parameters

La quality of smoked salmon depends on a combination of elements such as the type, size and condition of the fish, when, where and how it is caught, how it is handled, processed and stored, shipped and how it is sliced. 


Below is a list of useful tips to evaluate independently the real quality of smoked salmon:

  • Whether you are buying hot or cold smoked salmon, it's good check for any added ingredients, such as extra salt or sugar to enhance the flavor. The smoking process naturally adds a lot of flavor, so the healthiest option is to buy smoked salmon with no added extras. 


  • Check the dark edgesIf you see a dark brown border on each slice, this is not a great sign. It means being faced with a cheaper smoked salmon because it is not cut properly. There shouldn't be any layers of dark brown flesh either - this is muscle and it should never be present in a salmon pack.


  • Wild or farmed? Wild salmon are caught in natural environments such as oceans, rivers and lakes. But half of the salmon sold worldwide comes from fish farms, which use a process known as aquaculture to raise fish for human consumption. While wild salmon eats other organisms found in their natural environment, farmed salmon are given a processed, high-fat, high-protein food to produce larger fish. For this reason, the nutritional profile of the two types also has some differences: Farmed salmon is much richer in fat, contains slightly more omega-3, much more omega-6 and three times the amount of saturated fat. It also has 46% more calories, mostly from fat. In reverse, wild salmon is richer in minerals, including potassium, zinc and iron. Furthermore, according to scientific research, farmed salmon has much higher concentrations of contaminants compared to wild salmon, including dioxins, PBCs and various chlorinated pesticides.


  • Norwegian or Scottish? The first type is caught / bred in the cold waters of the fjords of Norway and is distinguished by its peach-pink color, slimmer - as it has less fat - and has a more densely smoky flavor than the Scottish variety, with a more intense aroma. It can also fall broadly into the Atlantic salmon category, although Atlantic salmon is native to Nova Scotia and can be farmed in the United States. Scottish salmon is probably the most prized variety of salmon, with an incredibly tender and buttery flesh, with a more pink-orange color. 


  • Certifications: it is important to read not only the nutritional table on the label but also further useful information, such as the stamps that certify adherence to marine ecosystem enhancement schemes. Salmon withMSC blue label it is certified sustainable and comes, that is, from an independently certified fishery according to the MSC Fisheries standard. Companies using the label throughout the supply chain have been evaluated to ensure that the products can be traced back to an MSC certified fishery. 
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