Benefits of the Great Lakes

The different salmon varieties of the Great Lakes and their nutritional value.

Living near the Great Lakes has many advantages. One advantage is that they provide a wide array of recreational activities for people of all ages to enjoy. One activity that millions enjoy is the sport of fishing. Sport fishing is a multi-million dollar industry that helps develop and support the sport and economy. Many who enjoy the sport participate in it not for the thrill of seeking and catching, but also for the thrill of harvesting and preparing the variety of species that one can catch.

One species that is prevalent is the salmon species. There are seven different types of salmon in the Great Lakes:

  1. Chinook or Kings – The most well-known type of salmon and largest of the salmon species.
  2. Coho – Often called “Silvers” and are known for their fighting spirit.
  3. Sockeye – Seen as the best eating salmon and the most tricky to catch.
  4. Chum – Generally harvested by commercial fisherman and sold overseas for caviar.
  5. Pinks – The least desired because of their small size, but are the most plentiful.
  6. Atlantic salmon – The most durable of the salmon species.
  7. Steelhead – Are ocean going rainbow trout, which is part of the salmon family. They are rarely caught in the Great Lakes, but when they are, it is near rivers as they come back to spawn.

The health benefits of salmon are numerous. One of the major benefits is that salmon has Omega-3 fatty acids, which refer to a group of three fats – ALA (found in plant oils), EPA and DHA (both commonly found in marine oils). Common sources of animal omega–3 EPA and DHA fatty acids include fish oils, algal oil, egg oil, squid oils, krill oil and some plant oils. Omega-3’s have a number of health benefits. Omega-3 is thought to play an important role in reducing inflammation throughout the body in the blood vessels, joints and elsewhere. Our bodies need these essential fats and the only way we can get them is through our diet, so eating fish is important as it can provide essential nutrients.

It is recommended that we eat fish once per week to maintain optimal health. Salmon can be canned or frozen to preserve the meat for later consumption. Michigan State University Extension offers food safety preservation lessons throughout the state for those who have never canned or unaware of the updated procedures, you can find a class to learn about preserving food through the MSU Extension food preservation page.

Now that you know about the health benefits of fish, go outside and have some fun – catch your next meal!

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