Diabetes puts you on the superhighway to developing a wide range of serious health complications, including cardiovascular disease and stroke. Eating nutrient-rich wild Pacific salmon can help slow or prevent these opportunistic diseases from developing, while helping you manage your diabetes as well.
1. Wild salmon helps prevent cardiovascular disease. Wild salmon is rich in antioxidants that help prevent and even reverse the damage that free radicals do to blood vessels — damage that leads to cardiovascular disease. The antioxidants (and the pink color) in wild salmon come from a chemical called astaxanthin. According to a joint Korean and Japanese study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, astaxanthin helps protect cells in blood vessels from the damaging effects of high glucose levels, a major indicator of diabetes.
A study of 5,000 women with type 2 diabetes conducted over 16 years found that those who ate 5 servings of omega-3-rich fish such as wild salmon reduced their risk for cardiovascular disease by an amazing 64%! (Those who ate wild salmon 2-4 times a week reduced their risk by 36 %. Even those who ate wild salmon 1-3 times a month were able to reduce their risk by 30 %.)
2. Wild salmon also protects against stroke. Stroke is one of the most serious complications of diabetes, but eating wild salmon can help lower your risk. A study published in the journal Stroke found that those who ate cold-water fish such as wild salmon 1-3 times a month were able to reduce their risk of stroke by 9%. Eating wild salmon once a week reduced the risk by 13%. Eating wild salmon 2-4 times a week reduced the risk by 18%. And those who ate wild salmon 5 or more times a week were able to reduce their risk of stroke by an astonishing 31%.
3. Vitamins Bs and D in wild salmon help prevent diabetes complications. Wild salmon is rich in vitamin Bs and vitamin D. According to a British study, eating foods rich in vitamin Bs helps prevent inflammation and damage to blood vessels that can lead to cardiovascular disease. And in a Belgian study, a deficiency in vitamin D was linked to insulin resistance and the development of diabetes. Researchers from Boston University found that eating just one 3.5-ounce serving of wild salmon provided 147% of the then-recommended daily allowance for vitamin D. Fortunately, most canned salmon is wild salmon, making it more convenient to incorporate into your diet.
4. Wild salmon also has cholesterol benefits. Eating omega-3-rich wild salmon helps control diabetes and promote cardiovascular health by improving the ratio of HDL (good) cholesterol to LDL (bad) cholesterol, making the blood less likely to clot and improving your cholesterol profile. In a study of post-menopausal women with diabetes conducted over three years and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, those who ate omega-3-rich wild salmon at least twice a week reduced their risk for atherosclerosis by an astounding 60%.
5. Be sure to choose wild salmon, not farmed. Farmed salmon is loaded with toxic chemicals that do nothing for your health. Farmed salmon has only one-quarter of the beneficial vitamin D content of wild salmon. It is high in omega-6 essential fatty acids that promote damaging inflammation and low in the powerful omega-3s that form the cornerstone of The Diabetes Healing Diet. Although sustainably farmed salmon is slowly becoming available, farmed salmon is generally environmentally unsound and unhealthy, both for you and the fish, due to overcrowding, poor hygiene, diseases and chemicals used to raise the fish and prevent die-off. Moreover, inadvertent co-mingling of wild and farmed salmon when farmed salmon escapes into the ocean degrades wild salmon stocks. Go to Seafood Watch for more information about seafood that is safe to eat.