Cancer / Oncology Nutrition / Diet

Can you eat salmon skin?

Salmon skin is usually considered safe to eat. The skin contains more of the same minerals and nutrients contained in salmon, which may be an excellent addition to any diet.

There are some things to consider when choosing whether to eat the salmon skin, such as the source and quality of the fish. Personal preference may also play a role when deciding whether to eat the salmon skin or not.

Fast facts on salmon skin:

  • Provided that it is high-quality salmon, the skin may make a great addition to most diets.
  • Many people avoid salmon skin simply because they do not know how to cook it.
  • Adding salmon skin to a menu is simple and can provide the body with extra nutrients.

Should you eat salmon skin?

Salmon and salmon skin on a board
Salmon skin contains many of the same nutrients as the fish.

Salmon skin can make a delicious and healthful addition to the diet.

It contains more of the same protein and essential omega-3 fatty acids contained in the fish.

The body cannot make omega-3 fatty acids, so people must get them through their diet.

Salmon also contains good levels of vitamins B and D, as well as essential minerals, such as selenium.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommend that people, particularly women aged 16 to 49 and children over 2 years old, eat 2 to 3 servings of oily fish, such as salmon, each week.

Leaving the skin on may provide some additional nutrients for the body. Some people may not think the skin looks appetizing, but those who choose to leave it on find that their favorite recipes work just as well.


Nutritional benefits of salmon skin

Salmon live in extremely cold ocean temperatures. Their skin contains a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids to help keep the salmon warm in the ocean.

These fatty acids may also provide some health benefits to the human body.

Omega-3 fatty acids may help protect the heart against specific risk factors for heart disease, such as blood pressure. They may also help protect the brain from degeneration, help the skin stay supple and healthy, and protect the eyes from age-related macular degeneration.

What do the studies say about benefits?

A study posted to the journal Marine Drugs also noted that salmon skin might help treat type 2 diabetes. Salmon skin appeared to have a strong antioxidant ability when given to test subjects, and may even help with wounds caused by diabetes.

Another study posted to BMC Cancer noted that omega-3 fatty acids seem to play a role in cancer prevention. Diets higher in omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may help fight cancer cells.

Salmon skin also adds more healthful protein to the diet, which may help people looking for an alternative to red meat.

How to cook salmon skin

When salmon is boiled, smoked, or steamed, the skin can become soggy and rubbery, which is not very pleasing to eat. However, when grilled, seared, or fried salmon skin becomes crunchy and is full of flavor because of all the fats in the skin.

Cooking salmon with the skin on

Some people prefer to cook salmon with the skin on. Cooking the salmon this way helps stop the delicate flesh from drying out. Crispy salmon skin can also add a different texture to the dish.

When cooking salmon on the grill, leaving the skin on can protect the meat underneath from burning.

Salmon bacon

One of the simplest ways to prepare salmon skin is to make “salmon bacon” or “salmon rinds,” which are thin strips of salmon skin fried in oil.

  1. separate the skin from the fish
  2. cut it into 1-inch strips and dry them with a paper towel — it may take some time to get all the moisture from the skin, so be patient
  3. add cooking oil to a skillet and put over medium-high heat
  4. when the oil is hot, add the dried strips of salmon skin to the pan
  5. turn the pieces as needed to keep them from burning
  6. when crispy, remove the strips from the pan and drain them on a paper towel to remove excess oil
  7. add salt and seasoning to taste
  8. This simple recipe can be adapted to fit almost any meal and is a simple way to add salmon skin to the diet.


Risks and side effects

fresh salmon with the skin on
Fresh wild-caught salmon may be recommended to avoid potentially contaminated fish.

There are a few important things to consider before adding salmon skin to the diet.

It is essential to know where the salmon comes from before eating the skin. Salmon that has lived in dirty, polluted, or contaminated waters may absorb toxins from their food and the water they swim in.

These toxins may put a person at risk of exposure to persistent organic pollutants (POPs), which could cause health problems.

What do the studies say about risks?

A study posted to PLoS One suggested that a diet high in farmed salmon and POPs could be linked to metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity in test subjects.

Salmon may also be contaminated by chemicals called polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and methylmercury. Salmon may also absorb these substances from contaminated water and their food. The longer the salmon is exposed to these harmful chemicals, the more they will build up over time.

Choosing a source of salmon

Because of potential risks such as these, many people prefer to eat wild-caught salmon. However, it may still be worth checking that the wild salmon also comes from clean water areas.

Drug interactions and other risks

Eating a lot of omega-3 fatty acids may also interact with some medications, such as blood thinners or anticoagulant medications. While the occasional salmon dish may not be cause for concern, it is always helpful to check in with a doctor before making any drastic changes to the diet.

Eating salmon skin will also add more calories to the diet than salmon with no skin, and people who are watching their fat or calorie intake would want to factor this into their diet plans.

Takeaway

While eating salmon skin is usually regarded as safe, the source and quality of the salmon may become a factor.

People who could be more sensitive to potential contaminants, such as pregnant or nursing women, may want to avoid eating salmon skin altogether. For most other people, eating salmon skin from a good source may be a great way to add helpful fatty acids and nutrients to their diet.

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