You know how important it is to eat cold-water fish, rich in omega-3 fatty acids, several times a week. Wild Pacific salmon is one of the best choices, but it can be expensive, costing as much as $40 a pound. Other options that most people overlook: Canned salmon and salmon in a pouch are available year-round and are much more reasonably priced, from about $2 to $8 for a six-ounce can or pouch. But can you get the same health benefits eating ready-to-eat salmon from cans or pouches as eating it fresh? Happily, the answer is yes…

What’s really in there: The fact is, canned or pouched salmon contains as much omega-3 oil as fresh salmon. Of course, it doesn’t provide the same wonderful eating experience as, say, fresh fish right off the grill. But it is precooked, easy to prepare and can be delicious in salads, salmon burgers and casseroles. Canned salmon has a mild flavor, slightly fishier than canned tuna.

Two varieties of wild Pacific fish (both with the same amount of omega-3 fatty acids) are available. Pink salmon has a mild taste and a soft texture. Red salmon (also called sockeye) has more flavor than pink and a firmer texture.

Most salmon goes into the can or pouch as a chunk of raw or defrosted frozen fish and is then cooked there. It may include edible skin and bones. The bones contain calcium, while the layer of flesh just below the skin has the most omega-3s. Some people prefer to remove the hard, round backbones and to mash the soft, smaller bones in with the rest of the salmon. Or you can purchase boneless, skinless canned salmon. You will have to decide which type is most to your taste.

Many canned foods have been found to be contaminated with bisphenol-A (BPA), an estrogen-like compound that is linked to health problems. To avoid the possibility of BPA contamination, it’s best to look for BPA-free cans. Pouches are always BPA-free. Companies such as Vital Choice sell red salmon in BPA-free cans and pouches, and Bumble Bee sells wild pink salmon in pouches.