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Tuna Nutrition | All Your Questions Answered

We often get questions about tuna nutrition and how incorporating it into your diet may impact health. Our registered dietitians, Willow and Stephanie of C&J Nutrition, break down your most frequently asked questions so you can see how a diet that includes tuna may benefit overall health. Tuna is not only delicious and easily pairs with your favorite recipes, it fuels your body, too!

1. Is canned tuna fish good for you?
Yes, canned tuna is a healthful food rich in protein and contains many vitamins and minerals such as B-Complex vitamins, Vitamins A and D as well as iron, selenium and phosphorus. Tuna also contains healthy omega 3 essential fatty acids DHA and EPA. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend eating seafood at least 2 times per week. Canned tuna is also generally low in fat and saturated fat and the cost per serving makes it very accessible for a variety of budgets. Because it’s shelf stable, it also allows people who do not live in regions near the ocean to include fish in their diets.

2. Which is healthier, tuna in oil or in water?
Both tuna in oil and tuna in water are very healthful options. While there are subtle differences in nutrition, registered dietitians recommend that you choose the variety that you enjoy most. For comparison, two ounces of Bumble Bee solid white albacore tuna packed in water contains 60 calories, 0 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 13 grams protein, and 140 mg of sodium. Two ounces of the same tuna packed in oil contains 80 calories, 2.5 grams fat, 0 grams saturated fat, 13 grams protein, and 140 mg sodium.

3. Can you eat tuna every day?
We don’t recommend eating any single food every single day, because it reduces the overall variety you get in your diet and that means you don’t get as wide an assortment of nutrients through your food choices. However, some people have concerns over mercury levels and tuna. According to the FDA and EPA, it is recommended to eat 2 to 3 servings of fish or shellfish each week.

4. Which is a better source of omega-3s, tuna or salmon?
Both salmon and tuna are sources of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. However, salmon contains more omega 3s per ounce than tuna. But, the best source of omega-3s is the one you enjoy the most — because you’ll eat it more often

5. How do I read a tuna nutrition label?
Start by looking at the serving size as well as the number of servings. Depending on the size of the can of tuna, you may see 2 or more servings listed. You can multiply any of the numbers on the tuna Nutrition Facts label by the number of servings to get the amount in the entire can. The next number below the servings will be the calories in each serving. Calories are the measure of energy in food — how much energy a food provides us. Next you’ll see total fat listed and below that you’ll find the specific types of fat as well as cholesterol, sodium, potassium, total carbohydrate, fiber, sugar, and protein. You’ll also see a percentage value next to these numbers. This is the percent of the Daily Value one serving of the tuna provides. At the bottom of the label you’ll find a list of vitamins and minerals. The percent values next to each represent the amount of the Daily Value one serving of the tuna provides.

6. Is tuna a good source of protein?
Tuna is considered an excellent source of protein, meaning a 2oz serving of tuna contains about 20% of the Daily Value.

7. Are there vitamins found in tuna?
There are many beneficial nutrients found in tuna, it is rich in protein and contains vitamins and minerals such as B-Complex vitamins, Vitamins A and D as well as iron, selenium and phosphorus.

8. Is tuna good for heart health?
It sure is! Fish contains unsaturated fats. If you substitute foods higher in saturated fat with fish, you may lower your cholesterol levels. In terms of tuna nutrition, it contains omega-3 fatty acids (a type of unsaturated fat), which evidence suggests could potentially provide cardiovascular benefits. According to the American Heart Association’s most recent Science Advisory statement, a large body of evidence supports the recommendation to consume non-fried seafood, especially species higher in omega-3 fatty acids, 1 to 2 times per week for cardiovascular benefits, including reduced risk of cardiac death, CHD, and ischemic stroke. In addition, fish is part of the Mediterranean diet, which research has shown might reduce the risk for heart disease. Click here for more information on tuna nutrition from the NCBI.

9. What are the nutritional differences between chunk light versus albacore?
While nutrients do vary within the different varieties of fish, there are minimal differences in fat, protein, and vitamin and mineral levels; chunk light tuna tends to be slightly higher in sodium and lower in protein than albacore. The main differences in the types of fish are in flavor, texture, and appearance, so we recommend choosing the type that you enjoy most and/or works with what you’re preparing.

10. What type of tuna is used in canned tuna?
Most canned and pouch tuna comes from skipjack or albacore tuna. Light or chunk light tuna is most often skipjack, but may also include yellowfin, tongol, or big-eye. White tuna, including solid white albacore and chunk white, is albacore. Albacore tuna is a large fish with a light-colored flesh, a firm texture, and a milder flavor. Because of these attributes, some people prefer albacore over light tuna varieties for dishes that merit a milder flavor and a firmer, more steak-like fish. According to the National Fisheries Institute, about 70% of the canned and pouched tuna Americans enjoy is skipjack (or a small amount of yellowfin). About 30% is albacore – also known as white tuna.

11. Is sustainably-caught tuna healthier for you?
The nutritional benefit of tuna is not dependent upon the way the tuna is harvested. Responsibly caught tuna is better for the environment, including the oceans and other species of fish and marine wildlife living in them, however it doesn’t impact tuna nutrition.

12. Is tuna fish paleo-friendly?
Yes- Tuna is a very paleo-friendly food. It’s minimally processed, contains no sugar, and is rich in protein and nutrients.

13. Is tuna a low-fat protein option?
Absolutely! Tuna is a low-fat protein choice with about 2 grams of fat per 2.5-ounce portion of solid white albacore tuna. More importantly, the majority of fat in tuna is healthy unsaturated fats, like omega 3 fatty acids. Some fat is important to help absorb vitamins and minerals from the meal you’re eating.

Reap the Benefits of Tuna Nutrition with Our Delicious Recipes
This versatile fish has numerous benefits to your health and fits almost any type of healthful eating plan. Try incorporating tuna into your meals and snacks with any of our healthy tuna recipes. When you have canned tuna on hand, the possibilities are endless. You can use it to create a filling breakfast, lunch, dinner, or a nutritious on-the-go snack. Want to know more about tuna nutrition or receive creative tuna recipes weekly? Connect with us at @bumblebeefoods on Instagram, Bumble Bee Seafoods on Facebook, and @bumblebeefoods on Twitter.