Yes, canned tuna can be a good source of omega-3 fats, but how much omega-3s are contained in the can of tuna you purchase can vary considerably. Here’s what you need to know to choose the can with the most omega-3s.
Canned Tuna Varieties
First of all, several different varieties of tuna are canned. Skipjack, Bluefin, and Yellowfin (called Ahi in Hawaii) tuna are canned and sold as “light meat,” while Albacore (also called Longfin tuna , Tombo Ahi, and Ahi Palanacan) is the only tuna that can be labeled premium “white meat”.
The Contents of Canned Tuna
Nutritionally, these different types of tuna are quite similar—except for their fat content, which can vary by as much as 2 grams per ounce depending on the season and water temperature where the fish was caught.
Even if you buy the same kind of tuna every time, be sure to check the Nutrition Facts label on the can you are considering purchasing—the information presented here must tell you what nutrients the fish packed in this can contain.
How To Get The Most Nutrients From Canned Tuna?
Choose water-packed tuna rather than oil-packed to get the most omega 3 fats from your canned tuna. The oil mixes with some of the tuna’s natural fat, so some of its omega-3 fatty acids also go down the sink when you drain oil-packed tuna. Water-packed tuna won’t leak any of its precious omega-3s since oil and water don’t mix.
Canned in water and drained, 6 ounces of light meat tuna typically provide a little less than .5 gram of omega-3 fatty acids, while light tuna canned in oil and drained provides a little more than .3 grams of omega 3.
One essay found that 100 grams (about 3 ½ ounces ) of light tuna canned in water and drained contained 0.272 grams of omega-3 fatty acids, derived from EPA (0.047g), DHA (0.223g), and ALA (0.002g). Tuna canned in oil and drained contained almost a third less omega 3s: 100 grams of light meat tuna canned in oil and drained provided 0.202 grams of omega-3 fatty acids in the form of EPA (0.027g), DHA (0.101g), and ALA (0.074g).
Specialty brands of Premium or “Gourmet” canned Pacific Albacore tuna may be your best choice for omega-3 oils among all the types of canned tuna. These smaller, often family-owned tuna fisheries catch their tuna in the cold waters of the Pacific by hook and line trolling.
As soon as a fish is hooked, it is brought aboard and fresh-frozen. Large commercial fisheries typically catch their tuna in the warmer waters of the Atlantic using “long lines” that lay deep in the water and are harvested only every 24 hours.
How Is Tuna Processed?
The way the tuna is processed also differs. The larger commercial canneries, such as Starkist®, cook their fish twice. First, they bake the fish whole on a rack, which results in a loss of natural beneficial oils. Then the fish is de-boned and put into the can, along with flavorings like vegetable broth, and additives such as pyrophosphate or hydrolyzed casein. The cans are sealed, and the fish is cooked again.
This process allows the companies to de-bone the fish fillets faster and produces a higher volume of product. Specialty products are typically packed into the can raw and cooked only once, so all their natural juices and fats remain in the finished product. Tested specialty brands have been found to contain up to 2.97 grams of omega-3 fats in a 100 gram (3.5 ounces) serving. Plus, they have a great amount of vitamin D too!
Is A Can Of Tuna Each Day Bad?
Tuna is one of the most convenient protein sources that exists, so it can easily become a guy’s go-to lunch.
But is it safe to eat it every day?
The short answer: Probably.
However, too much and you could end up with mercury poisoning, which can cause weird symptoms like tingling sensations and loss of balance.
“It would likely be safe for many men to eat tuna every day, while some men could experience symptoms of mercury toxicity from eating the same amount,”
– Food and Drug Administration spokeswoman Lauren Sucher.
You have to balance the benefits of eating fish with the risk from mercury while taking into account your weight, your sensitivity to mercury, the type of tuna, and how much risk you’re willing to take.