From sandwiches to salads, canned tuna is an incredibly easy -- and affordable -- way to add lean protein to your meal. And this fish also has a handful of nutrition benefits: It’s low in saturated fat and loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, which can help prevent heart disease. It’s also packed with vitamin C, zinc and manganese.
Like other large ocean fish, however, several species of tuna can contain high levels of mercury.
But who doesn't love a tuna melt? By selecting the types that are lowest in mercury, and limiting those that contain the highest, you can still eat tuna safely in moderation.
Know What Types of Tuna to Buy
- When buying whole fish, choose one that’s between the weight of 9 and 20 pounds. Lighter fish are naturally younger and haven’t accumulated as much mercury compared to heavier, older fish.
- Choose your canned fish wisely. Opt for a canned tuna company that considers the mercury level when packaging tuna. For example, Safe Catch is one such company that tests every fish for mercury.
- Choose skipjack tuna. These are relatively small and make up more than 70 percent of the American canned tuna market. Look for “skipjack” on the label.
- Choose albacore. This tuna is caught in its younger years, so it has less time to build up high levels of mercury. This is usually called “chunk white.”
- Avoid chunk light, which is a blend of different tuna species. It usually includes the meat from high-mercury types of tuna along with the less contaminated ones.
- Avoid or limit consumption of ahi, bigeye and yellowfin tuna. These contain the highest levels of mercury within the tuna category.
Cooking With Tuna
And now that we’ve provided tips for buying tuna, here are five tuna recipes for cooking inspiration:
What Do YOU Think?
Does your diet contain a lot of tuna? Do you pay attention to what types of tuna you eat? Share with us in the comments section below!
Lisa is a Registered Dietitian in private practice in New York. She holds her Master's of Science in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology from Columbia University. She strongly believes in the power of eating real food, and eating mindfully to prevent and mange illness.