Eating one or two servings of fish a week could reduce your risk of dying from heart attack by 33 percent, according to the Mayo Clinic; However, load a tuna salad sandwich with full-fat mayo and you might be counteracting tuna's spectacular heart benefits. It doesn't have to be that way -- with a few basic ingredients, such as heart-healthy olive oil, you can make a tuna salad that tastes as good as it is good for you.
The first step to making a healthy tuna salad is choosing the best tuna. Chef, TV host and cookbook author Alton Brown recommends looking for "chunk light" tuna. This tuna, reports Brown, almost always comes from skip-jack tuna, a small species that, unlike albacore or blue-fin tuna, doesn't grow large enough to accumulate harmful mercury.
Herbs and Spices
Since olive oil has a lighter flavor than mayonnaise, you'll want to adjust the herbs and spices you use. Nutritionist Ellie Krieger recommends using chopped fresh herbs such as parsley or cilantro, a few brine-cured olives, and a sprinkle of sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper. You can also use dried onions, sweet relish, and celery if you're looking for something that tastes more like traditional tuna salad.
High Quality Olive Oil
Another key to tasty, healthy tuna salad is high quality olive oil. High quality oil may be either green or gold in color, has a peppery, buttery flavor, and offers more heart-healthy antioxidants than other types of oil. It will usually be more expensive than vegetable oil or supermarket-grade olive oil, but you also won't need to use as much, since it tastes so much stronger. Look for clear, extra-virgin olive oil sold in opaque containers; containers that block light help keep oil from going rancid.
Putting it All Together
To keep your fat consumption low, use one to two tsp. of olive oil to every four ounces of canned tuna. To this, add a tbsp. of chopped herbs, a sprinkle of salt and pepper, and mix until combined but not enough to totally destroy the tuna's texture. If you're concerned about the calories or carbs in loaf bread, Krieger recommends making tuna wraps using low-calorie, whole grain tortillas or other flat-breads.
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- "I'm Just Here for the Food"; Alton Brown; 2002
- "The Food You Crave"; Ellie Krieger; 2008
- Fine Cooking : Storing Olive Oil
Melanie Greenwood has been a freelance writer since 2010. Her work has appeared in "The Denver Post" as well as various online publications. She resides in northern Colorado and she works helping to care for elderly and at-risk individuals. Greenwood holds a Bachelor of Arts in pastoral leadership from Bethany University in California.