The Health Benefits of Tuna

Benefits abound whether it is fresh or canned

Tuna salad
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Even if you don't eat a lot of fish, tuna is an excellent and affordable source of omega-3 fatty acids you shouldn't ignore. This is a type of polyunsaturated fat that can really 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.

Benefits of Canned Tuna

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.

Comparing Fresh and Canned Tuna

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

Here is how a medium0size portion 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.

    Health Benefits of Tuna

    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. Because of this, the AHA recommends that you consume at least two servings of fish per week.

    With the being said, 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.

    Healthy Tuna Salad Preparations

    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.

    By way of example, 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.

    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.

    Other Healthy Ways to Prepare Tuna

    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:

    Source:

    American Heart Association. "Fish and Omega-3 Fatty Acids." Washington, D.C.; updated October 16, 2016.