Welcome back to For The Love of Food! We’ve been taking a look at some foods that may be particularly helpful for those of us living with fibromyalgia due to their nutritional content or the ways they work in our bodies. Of course, as we talked about in Part 1, the foundation of a healthy diet, whether you have an illness or not, is real food. Variety is key here — we need to eat a variety of good wholesome foods in order to ensure we’re getting all the nutrients we need. Eating well may not cure us, but it can certainly help us stack the deck in our favor by providing our bodies with the nutrition they need to operate optimally.
Today we’re going to talk about one of my favorite foods:
In his book, The 150 Healthiest Foods On Earth, Jonny Bowden asked premier experts in the fields of health and nutrition what their top 10 favorite foods were. You know what made it on almost every expert’s list? Salmon!
Salmon is a good source of Vitamin A, B2 (Riboflavin), B3 (Niacin), B6 (Pyridoxine) and B12 (Cobalamin). It’s also a good source of Phosphorus and Selenium, and canned salmon is a good source of calcium as well.
Salmon’s most notable contribution to good health, however, is its omega-3 fatty acids. Wild-caught is superior to farmed to get your omega-3s. I have to be honest, though, I don’t really like wild-caught salmon. I always find bones and I don’t like the texture of the flesh. I compromise and buy Scottish Salmon that’s sustainably raised in farms set up in open waters (at least that’s what the fish guy tells me….) Omega 3s are Essential Fatty Acids, which means that they can’t be made by the body, so they have to be obtained through the diet.
Why It May Be Helpful For Fibromyalgia
The Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon and other cold-water fish have been found to have several health benefits. They
- Lower triglycerides and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels
- Improve blood circulation
- May make platelets less sticky and less likely to form blood clots
- May lower blood pressure
- Are beneficial for inflammatory conditions
- Can help with mental function
You may have noticed that most of the benefits listed here have to do with cardiac health, but anything that is good for the heart is good for the brain, and you may be familiar with the dreaded brain fog that affects many of us who have fibromyalgia. This may help in that respect.
The Riboflavin (B2) and Niacin (B3) both help with energy production, and B6 (pyridoxine) helps maintain brain function. This could help alleviate some of the fatigue and brain fog associated with fibromyalgia.
B12 maintains normal functioning of the nervous system. If fibro is a dysfunction of the Central Nervous System as is theorized, this could be an extremely important benefit of eating that delicious salmon.
Last but not least, salmon contains selenium, which acts as an anti-oxidant to prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress (see Part 2 for an explanation). If we can prevent this, it may help with our energy levels and overall health.
How To Get It In Our Diets
Salmon is pretty versatile and can be prepared many different ways. Here are a few suggestions:
- Pan-seared – This is probably the simplest way to prepare it — I just spritz it with a little olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and put it in the pan.
- Lemon-pepper salmon baked with asparagus – Just brush salmon with a mixture of dijon mustard, a little lemon juice, salt, and pepper, put in on a baking sheet with asparagus tossed with a little olive oil and minced garlic, and cook in a 400-degree oven for about 20 minutes.
- Salmon patties – My Mom used to make these with canned salmon quite often when I was a kid. I need to get that recipe from her….
- Smoked salmon
- Cedar-planked salmon – I just prepare the salmon as I would for the pan-seared salmon, then place it on a cedar board that has been soaked in water for at least an hour prior to using and put it on the grill. A word of caution — Keep a close eye on your grill when cooking this way. The last time I did this, a neighbor came over, I got distracted, and the next thing I knew, my beautiful salmon was several hunks of smoking charcoal. There was no salvaging any of it (not to mention I could’ve burned down my deck)!
Do you like salmon, and if so, how do you like to prepare it?
Okay, so I could use your help here…. I’ve been thinking about discontinuing this series because I seem to keep repeating myself. If it’s benefitting you and you’d like to continue seeing these posts, please let me know, or if you think it’s time to end it, I’d appreciate if you’d let me know that also. My goal with sharing what I learn is to help others that may be going through the same things. If it’s not helpful, I don’t want to waste your time. So….feedback please! Thanks so much!