Salmon is one of the most popular and appreciated fish worldwide due to its unique flavor and texture. However, many people don’t know that the reddish-orange color of salmon meat is not just a matter of appearance but is closely related to the species’ survival.
Wild salmon have a diet rich in astaxanthin, a natural pigment found in crustaceans, fish, and other aquatic organisms.
Astaxanthin is a powerful antioxidant that provides numerous health benefits, including protection against environmental stress, disease, and other health problems.
For salmon, however, astaxanthin is much more than just an antioxidant. It is the essential fuel that allows them to survive and prepare for their final odyssey: reproduction and death.
Throughout their adult lives, salmon feed and accumulate astaxanthin in their tissues in preparation for their migration upstream to the rivers where they were born.
This journey is challenging and requires enormous energy and physical stamina.
For many salmon, it means swimming more than 1,400 kilometers, climbing more than 2,000 meters in altitude, fighting against the river current, and facing environmental challenges.
During this trip, the salmon stop feeding, so astaxanthin becomes their primary energy source and protection.
Astaxanthin helps them maintain their physical stamina and protects them from environmental stress, exposure to disease, and other potential health risks.
In females, the orange-reddish color of the meat migrates toward their gonads, while in males, it concentrates in their skin. This color change is a sign that the salmon is ready to reproduce and also indicates that it has accumulated enough astaxanthin to survive the long, difficult migration to its spawning grounds.
In short, the orange-reddish color of salmon meat is not only a matter of appearance but is closely related to the survival and reproduction of the species.
Astaxanthin is essential for providing the energy and protection that salmon need to complete their final odyssey, and its accumulation in salmon tissues is a testament to the incredible adaptive capacity of this unique species.