Forever Young: Why is Salmon Pink?

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Astaxanthin, a member of the carotenoid family of natural pigments, is closely related to beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein.  This powerful, natural, biological antioxidant is found most abundantly is seafood.  It gives the pink and red color to salmon, shrimp and lobster.  Since we cannot produce astaxanthin ourselves, we have to depend on our diet to obtain it as well as other carotenoids.

Let’s take the case of salmon to demonstrate evolution at work.  For salmon, the antioxidant power of astaxanthin is indispensable.  Having evolved with a unique life cycle that demands more physical exertion than any other fish, salmon requires protection against the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species (ROS) or free radicals, especially singlet oxygen, the most damaging of the ROS, generated during the rigorous journey from the sea back up the rivers and rapids to spawn.  Salmon store the astaxanthin in their bodies, and it produces the deep orange, pink or red color of their flesh as they grow and mature in the ocean, preparing for their final life cycle journey up the river to spawn.

So when looking to add the antioxidant power of astaxanthin to your diet, think pink and look to salmon!

Learn more about the health benefits of salmon in Forever Young.

What is your favorite way to incorporate salmon into your diet?

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