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Dr. Perricone Discusses

Earth Day

Dr. Perricone discusses sustainable foods sources - how they affect our bodies and the planet.

Each Earth Day, I like to examine my daily habits and ask, "How can I be a better steward to the Earth?" This year, I'm focusing on purchasing sustainably and responsibly grown foods to help support these eco-friendly farming practices for a healthier planet.

Unfortunately, environmental pollution and unsustainable farming practices require us to be discerning about the origins of our food- especially fish. Much of the salmon consumed in the United States is farmed - up to 90% by some estimates. And while it's true that farmed salmon is far cheaper than wild caught fish (approximately $8 per pound vs. $27 per pound), the environmental impact of fisheries and ensuing nutritional changes in farmed salmon put the true cost in perspective. It may not be apparent at the register, but the costs to our health, the environment and our oceans is very real.
  • Farmed salmon may have higher levels of PCBs (Polychlorinated Biphenyls). PCBs are a group of manufactured chemicals that contain 209 individual chlorinated chemicals. Generally, their concentration in the environment is low; however, because they do not break down easily, they've accumulated and become concentrated higher up the food chain.
  • Many salmon-farming practices pollute the environment and endanger wild fish. When farmed fish escape or are released, they may pass along diseases and parasites to the wild fish population.
  • Most farmed salmon are fed a diet that includes synthetic, petrochemical-derived astaxanthin, which is added to commercial salmon feed to mimic the red-orange colors of wild salmon flesh.
  • Don't forget to examine the source of your Omega-3 supplements as well. Look for purified fish oil from wild-sourced salmon, if possible. Taking a high-quality Omega-3 regularly can have tremendously positive impacts on the entire body, ranging from improved cardiovascular health, slimmer midsection, to firmer, more supple and hydrated skin. Tip: I generally recommend taking 3,000 to 9,000 mg (good dose to encourage fat loss) of Fish Oil, depending on the specific needs of the patient.

4 Reasons to go Wild vs. Farmed
  • Wild salmon offers higher levels of omega-3 fatty acids, and has a healthier ratio of omega-3s to omega-6s.
  • Wild salmon is a superior source of DMAE: a precursor to the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which helps promote better muscle tone in the face and body.
  • Wild salmon is by far the richest food source of astaxanthin. a potent carotenoid-class antioxidant with strong anti-inflammatory properties. Wild salmon - especially sockeye—accumulate astaxanthin in their flesh because they eat astaxanthin-rich zooplankton.

Sustainable Seafood
According the Environmental Defense Fund, here are some eco-friendly sea-food choices. For a complete list, visit their website.
  • Abalone
  • European Anchovies
  • Sablefish/Black cod
  • Pacific Halibut
  • Alaskan Cod
  • Wild Alaskan Salmon
  • Sardines

Sustainable Food Sources
Spring is a perfect time to 'go green.' Nature's bounty is underway, and your local farmer's market offers a wide variety of green foods to incorporate you're your diet. Use dark green leafy greens for your salads, along with my favorites, which include: spinach, kale, arugula, watercress, cabbage, broccoli, sprouts, avocado, and asparagus. To find a farmer's market near you, please visit: http://www.localharvest.org/

Frozen Seafood - Vital Choice
Wild Alaskan salmon has a healthier fatty acid profile (less saturated fat, higher ratio of omega-3 fatty acids to saturated fats) than farmed salmon. Vital Choice seafood products are caught at sea, flash-frozen immediately, packed in dry ice and delivered at affordable prices. In 2000, it was the first fishery certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council. They offer wild salmon, tuna, halibut sardines, salmon sausage and burgers.

Raw Milk Aged Cheddar Cheese - Shelburne Farms
Situated in beautiful Lake Champlain, Vermont, the cows are a purebred herd of Brown Swiss raised on the farm and pasture from spring to fall. All the milk is fresh, untreated and rsST/rbGH free.

Kefir and Yogurt - Helios Nutrition
A small, organic dairy in Minnesota, they make several flavors of organic kefir with added FOS (a prebiotic saccharide).

Grass-Fed Beef - Vermont Natural Beef & EatWild.com
Vermont Natural Beef supplies superb, all-natural beef from scenic Vermont.
EatWild is a great source for safe and natural grass-fed beef, lamb, goat, bison, poultry, pork and dairy products.

As an active researcher, I welcome your questions and feedback. Please join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

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Related Links:

Healthy Hair, Healthy Skin
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Dr. Perricone on Omega-3's