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QUINN ON NUTRITION: On healing and seafood

QUINN ON NUTRITION: On healing and seafood


Fresh salmon contains high-quality protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. 

A column after my recent foot surgery that described the nutrients involved in healing brought some interesting responses. One was from S.F. in Wilmington, North Carolina, who actually sent me a photo of her toes peeking out from her holiday-red cast as she, too, recovers from foot surgery.

“Thank you for your very timely, informative article!” she writes. ”I wish you a speedy recovery!”

Thanks, S.F. Same to you. I love the holiday-red cast, by the way.

And this inspiring letter from R.H. in Scotts Valley, California:

“I'm a 73-year-old physician who competed in powerlifting throughout my sixth and seventh decades. I've had a number of orthopedic procedures and share your concern about proper nutrition. But you missed a biggie.

"Continuing to work out during your recovery is essential. I had surgery about 20 years ago involving cutting through the main weight-bearing bone to the big toe. I was told I'd be in a boot 12 weeks, and no squatting until the incision filled in with bone.

"I continued to do a full upper-body workout and modified my lower-body routine. The incision from my surgery healed three weeks early (according to the X-ray). And after only nine weeks, I was back in the power cage (a steel cage used for weightlifting). I'm convinced my quick recovery was due to the increased nourishment supplied to my tissues from physical training.

"I always advised my patients with similar injuries to 'work out that which still will work without injury.'"

Dear R.H. — My physical therapist has expressed the same sentiments. Regular exercises, she says, increase the flow of blood and healing nutrients to tissues and bones. I’m wiggling my toes now.

Another letter on a different subject:

“I was wondering what you thought about the nutritional benefits or perhaps negative benefits of smoked salmon. I am referring to the kind that comes in foil packets that typically cost about $20 a pound. It is a favorite of ours, but I believe there may be negative effects, as it is a processed food. I know regularly prepared salmon is quite nutritious. Thank you for your insight.” — Diane

Dear Diane — According to the American Institute of Cancer Research, any meat that is preserved with smoking, curing or the addition of chemical preservatives such as nitrates or nitrites is considered “processed.” Since smoked salmon is cured with salt and then smoked, it meets the definition.

Nutritionally, smoked salmon has the same nutrients as fresh salmon, including high-quality protein and anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. However, the salt-curing process adds a considerable amount of sodium — up to five times as much.

Since population studies have found a correlation between high intakes of processed meat and colorectal cancer, we’d be wise to enjoy this delicacy occasionally in small amounts. And at $20 a pound, that might not be too difficult.

Barbara Quinn is a registered dietitian. Email her at



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