Tuna Nutrition Facts, Calories, and Health Benefits

Fresh or canned tuna
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Tuna is a healthy and affordable source of omega-3 fatty acids that is a smart addition to your diet. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that can only be found in fish, nuts, and seed.  Omega-3 fatty acids are particularly abundant in coldwater fish such as tuna, mackerel, sardines, and herring.

But if you choose to add tuna to your diet should you buy it fresh or canned?

Compare tuna nutrition facts for both canned tuna and different varieties of fresh tuna to see which is right for you. 

Tuna Nutrition 

Tuna Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 3 ounces, fresh yellowfin, raw
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories  92 
Calories from Fat  7 
Total Fat   0.8g1%
Saturated Fat  0.2g1%
Polyunsaturated Fat  0.2g 
Monounsaturated Fat  0.1g 
Cholesterol 38mg13%
Sodium  31mg 1%
Potassium   377mg11%
Carbohydrates  0g0%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 0g 
Protein 20g 
Vitamin A 1% · Vitamin C 1%

Calcium  1% · Iron 3%

Fresh tuna is packed with nutrition. However, when you evaluate tuna nutrition facts, it is important to keep your preparation method in mind. Many restaurants and home cooks sear tuna in oil which will add fat and calories to the fish. It is also common to add seasoning mixes that will increase the sodium content of the dish.

But even if you add oil to the fish when you cook it, tuna is still a healthier choice when compared to fatty meats like ground beef, sausage, and other popular protein choices.

For this reason, many health experts, like those at the American Heart Association recommend that you consume at least two servings of fish (like tuna or salmon) per week.

Canned Tuna Nutrition

The nutritional value of canned tuna speaks for itself. When packed in water, a 6.5-ounce can of tuna contains:

  • 144 calories
  • Two grams of fat
  • No saturated fat
  • No carbohydrates
  • No sugar
  • 32 grams of protein
  • 412 grams of salt (18 percent of the recommended daily value)
  • 15 percent of the recommended daily value of iron

For those on a low-salt diet, there are even versions that offer 25 percent less sodium.

Keep in mind, however, that tuna packed in oil will increase your fat intake. A can of tuna contains 339 calories and 14 grams of fat.

Fresh vs. Canned

While most people will assume that fresh tuna is better than canned tuna, that is not always the case when it comes to fatty fish.

Here is how a single serving of fresh tuna stacks up against the same amount of canned tuna:

  • A three-ounce portion of fresh tuna cooked without oil provides 195 calories, 42 grams of protein, one gram of carbohydrate, two grams of fat, and 525 milligrams of sodium.
  • A three-ounce portion of fresh tuna cooked with oil provides 236 calories, 42 grams of protein, one gram of carbohydrate, seven grams of fat, and 525 milligrams of sodium.
  • A three-ounce serving of canned tuna packed in water provides 73 calories, 17 grams of protein, zero grams of carbohydrate, one gram of fat, and 210 milligrams of sodium.
  • A three-ounce serving of canned tuna packed in oil provides 169 calories, 25 grams of protein, zero grams of carbohydrate, seven gram of fat, one gram of saturated fat, and 354 milligrams of sodium.

    So which type of tuna is best for you? The answer depends on your budget and your taste preference. Many healthy eaters prefer the taste of fresh fish. But other smart shoppers appreciate the fact that canned tuna is more economical, easy to store, stays fresh longer, and is easy to pack when you're eating on the go. 

    Health Benefits 

    The omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna are known to promote good heart health. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), these essential fats can help decrease triglycerides in the blood, lower the risk of arrhythmia (irregular heartbeats), and slow the buildup of plaque in the arteries.

    The amount of omega-3 fatty acids in a three-ounce serving can vary significantly based on the type of fish consumed. Among the tuna varieties, both fresh and canned:

    • Fresh bluefin tuna offers 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams.
    • Canned white albacore tuna offers 500 to 1,000 milligrams.
    • Canned light tuna offers 200 to 500 milligrams.
    • Fresh skipjack tuna offers 200 to 500 milligrams.
    • Fresh yellowfin tuna offers 200 milligrams or less.

    Tuna Salad Nutrition

    One of the most popular ways to prepare canned tuna is to make a tuna salad. While delicious, the ingredients contained in most recipes undermine many of the nutritional benefits of the fish.

    Tuna Salad Nutrition Facts

    A one-cup serving of tuna salad made with mayonnaise contains 404 calories, 22 grams of protein, six grams of carbohydrate, five grams of sugar, 33 grams of fat, three grams of saturated fat, and 892 milligrams of sodium.

    If you put the tuna salad between two slices of bread, you would add another 150 calories, 26 grams of carbohydrate, and 230 milligrams of sodium.

    Tuna Salad Nutrition Tips

    This doesn't mean that you have to avoid tuna salad altogether. The very fact that you're consuming 29 milligrams omega-3 EPA (the fatty acid the inhibits cellular inflammation) and 212 milligrams of omega-3 DHA (which promotes eye and brain health) almost makes up for the added ingredients.

    To lower the fat content in your tuna salad, either replace the mayonnaise with a reduced-fat mayo or, alternately, mix 30 percent mayonnaise with 70 percent plain yogurt for a fresh, slightly sour taste.

    Healthy Tuna Preparation Tips

    There are countless ways to incorporate tuna into a heart-healthy diet. You can combine it with tomatoes, salad greens, cooked green beans, and boiled sliced potatoes for a classic salad Niçoise. You can stir a can into a pot of corn chowder for a delicious tuna bisque. You can even make a delicious cold pasta salad with tomatoes, celery, canned kidney beans, and black olives.

    If you're feeling particularly creative, here are some fun and healthy recipes you can try at home:

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