Thursday, January 10, 2013

Fit Food Friday: Salmon

Happy Friday!  I'm actually busy soaking up the beautiful weather in Florida and getting ready to #RunDisney tomorrow, but don't worry...I prescheduled a Fit Food Friday for you.  Today we're talking about salmon!  This fatty fish is not only a great source of protein, but it is packed with heart healthy omega-3 fats and other vitamins and minerals.  So we know it's a generally healthy food for us to eat, but how can it improve performance and recovery?

As I mentioned, salmon is a great source of protein, containing about 22 grams in a 3oz portion.  We know that protein helps rebuild and repair muscle tissue that is broken down during exercise, thus making salmon a great post-workout food for runners and athletes.  Emerging research also shows that the small protein molecules (peptides) found in salmon support cartilage and promote joint health.  Great news for those of us out there pounding the pavement!

Probably the most well-known health benefits of salmon is it's high omega-3 content.  One serving of salmon can contain up to 2 grams of omega-3 fat in the forms of both EPA and DHA.  These healthy fats work to decrease inflammation and boost the immune system to ward off disease.  Less inflammation and healthy immunes systems equal faster recovery times and less sickness!  Omega-3 intake is also linked to lower rates of depression and improved mood and cognition.  But most of us already get those benefits from our "runner's high", right?!

Salmon is also a "fit food" because it is an excellent food source of Vitamin D, containing almost 300% of the Daily Value.  As I mentioned when discussing chocolate milk, runners are often lacking in our Vitamin D intake which is so essential to bone health and immunity. 

So how can you incorporate more salmon into your diet?  While a salmon filet dinner (balanced with vegetables and a carbohydrate of course) sounds both delicious and nutritious, there's no need to hit the fish market a few times a week.  You can get all the health benefits to boost your fitness by using canned salmon!  It's a quick and easy addition to sandwiches, salads or pasta dishes.  An added bonus to canned versions is that many of them contain small edible bones, which boosts the calcium content of the fish as well!  Try adding salmon to your meal mix just a few times a week!  Side note: Choose wild salmon over farmed for lower contamination risks for mercury and pesticides/pollutants.

Wishing you all a magical day from WDW! Stay tuned next week for another "Fit Food Friday"!

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