Canned Tuna…good or bad?

I believe in eating food as close to its whole, natural state as possible but sometimes we are too busy, travelling or just plain lazy. Canned tuna is a quick meal filled with lean protein and rich in heart-healthy omega-3s.

The most popular types of canned tuna are skipjack, tongol, and albacore. Here are a few things you should know and think about when purchasing canned tuna.

  1. Hook and Line caught
  2. Dolphin Safe
  3. Wild not farmed
  4. Albacore (white) is a larger, more predatory species of tuna, so it accumulates more mercury in its tissues.
  5. Skipjack, which accounts for most canned “light tuna”, doesn’t grow nearly as large as albacore, so it has approximately one-third the mercury levels.
  6. No salt added is a bonus
  7. Hand filleted and packed
  8. Cooked directly in the can
  9. Best if packed in its own juices not added oils (added oils are going to be high in omega-6, we get plenty of omega-6 in our diet)
  10. Canned Salmon is an excellent choice. It is mainly sockeye or pink from Alaska —the fish are low in contaminants and high in heart-healthy omega-3, and are sustainably caught.

I randomly grabbed a can of tuna, Wild Planet,  to analysis its nutritional content and to find out where and how it was caught.   Wild Plant skipjack tuna is packed in its own juices.  Wild Planet is rated best choice by Sea Watch, Blue Ocean, Sea Choice, and Fish Wise. Skipjack is caught by a pole and their sourcing for skipjack is Japan. However, sea salt is added and their packing facility is in Vietnam.

There are many quality brands out there, if you are eating tuna more than 3  times a week it is worth investigating the tuna you are eating for mercury levels, sustainability, and ingredients (e.g., packed in its own oil, sodium added, packed in high omega-6 oil)

ONE (5 ounce) can of Wild Planet Skipjack Tuna contains the following.

Calories – 172.5

Fat – 5 grams

Cholesterol -66 mg

Protein-32 grams

Sodium -670mg   (high)

Iron – 12%

Omega 3 – 1,752mg (DHA 1,284/EPA

After learning skipjack is the best tuna to buy in a can due to lower amounts of mercury, I decided to see what Whole Foods Market had to say about 365 Everyday canned tongol and canned albacore.

Question: Do you test 365 Everyday Value Tuna for mercury?

Answer: Yes. Each load of fish is tested when it arrives at the cannery. Fish that exceed levels set by the government are rejected. We also do random tests on each lot of canned product. The government considers tuna safe if it has up to 1ppm (part per million) of mercury.

The latest tests for 365 Everyday Value Tongol Tuna came in at 0.073ppm, and 365 Everyday Value Albacore Tuna came in at 0.056ppm — both well under established safety limits.

For more information on mercury levels in canned tuna check out the Environmental Defense Fund.



Filed under Health Benefits, Nutrition, Recipe, Tips

2 responses to “Canned Tuna…good or bad?

  1. Lauren

    Thanks for this info. I used to buy Tongol Tuna at Trader Joes, but they haven’t had it. I found skipjack today at wholefoods and it was so afordable I was a little concerned about the quality. I’m glad to know it has less mercury – a big concern for us. Thanks for all of your research!

  2. Jan

    Thanks for your information. Very helpful. I can now decide how many cans of canned tuna to take each week.Great work!!!

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