We’ve heard it before: that short winter days coupled with less sunlight and more time spent indoors can increase our risk of developing vitamin D deficiency. But this food loving dietitian has a novel suggestion for you to help you increase your intake of vitamin D – eat more salmon!
But why is vitamin D so important?
Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin, helps to build strong bones and it enhances the absorption of calcium in the body. A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to rickets in children or osteomalacia in adults, both conditions lead to a softening of the bones and are rare in developed countries.
We now know that vitamin D plays an important role in the prevention of a variety of health conditions like breast cancer and other types of cancers, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, depression and diabetes and new research suggests maybe even food allergies. Vitamin D has also been shown to help enhance the immune system, maintain healthy skin and muscle strength.
Even though we live in a country with sunshine abound, Australians are prone to vitamin D deficiency. A 2012 University Of Sydney study found that nearly one third of the adult population is vitamin D deficient. That’s quite high.
But why eat salmon when I can get vitamin D from the sun?
Aside from vitamin D, salmon is a source of protein and heart healthy omega-3 fats. These healthy fats help lower cholesterol and reduce inflammation helping to prevent cardiovascular disease. And great news if you’re suffering from the winter time blues, the omega-3 fats may also help with brain health and mood. These healthy fats make up about 15-20% of the brain and some research has shown positive benefits on brain health by including a diet rich in omega-3 fats. Salmon found in colder water, like the cool Atlantic waters of Tasmania, will be a richer source of the heart healthy fats.
Salmon also contain antioxidants. It’s the carotenoids, like beta-carotene and astaxanthin, which give salmon that beautiful pink salmon colour. Carotenoids are potent antioxidants, which may help fight cancer and inflammatory conditions.
Other nutrients found in salmon include zinc, iron, copper, manganese, selenium, calcium, phosphorus and potassium. Salmon truly is a superfood, ranking in my top ten list of nutritional powerhouses.
But enough technical talk. Let’s get down to business. Salmon tastes good…no, scratch that, salmon tastes absolutely beautiful! Salmon has a rich, meaty texture and a delicious, buttery-like creaminess. On a plate, salmon looks visually stunning with its rich pink colour and flaky meat.
I can’t think of a better breakfast than a smoked salmon omelette with capers and fresh dill and a touch of crème fraiche folded in. And for a simple yet elegant dinner, I love a grilled salmon fillet with sautéed asparagus on the side. Salmon is beautiful in a salad or tossed through a creamy pasta dish. It can be eaten fresh, tinned or smoked.
How about a few salmon recipes to get you started?
To demonstrate the versatility of salmon, I hosted a salmon night with my friend and we made two different recipes, supplied by Tasal: salmon tacos and a roast pumpkin, salmon, feta and spinach salad.
You can find our comments about the recipes, below.
Roast Pumpkin, Salmon with Feta & Spinach Salad
|Salmon Pumpkin Salad|
Dietitian’s comments: Nutritionally, this salad has it all. It contains an excellent source of many vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, C, E, D, calcium, potassium, phosphorus and magnesium. Plus, it contains carbohydrates for energy, lean protein and a good dollop of healthy fats.
Pre-heat oven to 200C. Cut salmon and pumpkin into 3cm cubes. Place pumpkin and garlic on an oven tray, and season with salt and olive oil. Bake for 20-25 mins or until golden brown. Remove and allow to cool. Mix lemon and oil together and then add the salmon. Cook salmon in pan on medium heat and then let cool. In a bowl, combine spinach, shallot, almonds, feta, garlic, cous cous, asparagus and pumpkin.
Toss salmon through salad and coat with dressing.
|Our salmon salad|
400g pumpkin, peeled
4 garlic cloves, left whole with skin on
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lemons, juiced
200g baby spinach leaves or rocket
1 shallot, thinly sliced
25g slivered almonds
100g feta, crumbled
100g cous cous, cooked
Bunch of asparagus, blanched & refreshed
Dietitian’s Comments: These tacos will save you about 70 calories, 4g of fat and 3g of saturated fat per serve when compared to tacos using mince. Plus, you enjoy all the health benefits of salmon like vitamin D and healthy fats.
|My salmon cooking for the tacos|
2 x 170g Tassal Tasmanian salmon portions, skin off
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp taco seasoning
2 ripe tomatoes, diced
10 iceberg lettuce leaves
1 avocado, sliced
cup taco salsa
10 taco shells or soft tortillas
1 lime, cut into wedges, to serve
What about sunshine?
Spending a bit of time in the sun is another way to increase your vitamin D. The darker your skin pigmentation, the more time you will need in the sun. To get your vitamin D, about 10-30 minutes of sunshine a day is recommended without sun block. It may be best to enjoy your sunshine outside of peak sun hours, before 11am or after 3pm.
|Getting our double dose of vitamin D|
Reposted with permission from http://www.thefoodiedietitian.com