Tuna is one of the most eaten fish in the world and it makes sense as to why! After all, not only is it delicious, it is also quite healthy!
This saltwater fish is related to mackerel and there are around eight separate varieties with different sizes ranging from the small skipjack to the large Bluefin.
Another reason why it is so popular is that it is really versatile, allowing people to eat it in all kinds of forms, be it raw, cooked or pre-cooked and canned in brine, water, olive or sunflower oil.
This makes prepping meals really easy and quick for the busiest of people as well.
But is canned tuna just as nutritious as fresh tuna?
There is not a lot of difference when it comes to the amount of fats or protein you get from fresh tuna versus canned options and both of them lack carbohydrates.
Of course, fresh tuna is actually naturally higher in protein but also has more calories so, at the end of the day, both are great options so you can pick the one that is more convenient for you.
However, keep in mind that there is a significant difference as far as tuna canned in oil is concerned so you should be careful about that.
Protein levels may be the same but the fat content obviously increases a lot because of the oil, reaching nearly 7 grams per 100 grams of tuna.
Furthermore, the calories reach 159 per 100 grams as well.
On the other hand, 100 grams of tuna canned in brine has only 1 gram of fat and 109 calories while the same quantity of fresh tuna features 1 gram of fat and 136 calories so the differences should be taken into consideration.
But no matter the form of it, it has to be mentioned that tuna is a great source of B vitamins including niacin which is good for the nervous system as well as the skin.
Other micronutrients it also contains are calcium, which is great for your bones and muscles, magnesium, a great surplus of energy, as well as vitamin D, which supports the immune system but also improves brain function and increases overall strength.
Speaking of the latter, it turns out that fresh tuna contains double the amount of vitamin D that canned does.
Another significant difference you should take into consideration is that canned tuna tends to be higher in sodium than fresh tuna which makes sense given the fact that canned anything needs to last for a long time and salt is a great preserver.
What are the most common concerns when purchasing tuna?
One of the biggest challenges are sustainability since some tuna stocks are now overfished, be it wild or farmed.
This means that adult fish are actually caught at a faster rate than they can breed and multiply.
In the UK, bluefin tuna is nearly completely gone which is why this species is illegal to fish for the time being.
As a result, when buying tuna, be it fresh or canned, make sure to look for the MSC (Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Standard) label to know whether it’s certified sustainable or not.
Mercury levels in tuna – should you be concerned?
Unfortunately, a correlation between high mercury levels and eating a lot of tuna exists, research suggesting that larger species such as bigeye and albacore are higher in mercury than light and skipjack tuna.
With that being said, the NHS says that if you are trying for a baby or are already pregnant, you should avoid consuming more than 4 cans of tuna or 2 fresh tuna steaks per week!
Here’s how to introduce tuna to your diet for a healthy lifestyle!
All in all, there is no doubt that tuna is a great source of protein and something you can consume during any of your daily meals, be it breakfast, lunch or dinner as part of a healthy diet.
Canned tuna can be eaten in wraps, sandwiches, in salads and even mixed with some pasta or rice which makes it versatile so you most likely won’t get tired of it anytime soon.
For a healthier choice, make sure to purchase tuna canned in spring water or brine and avoid those canned in any kind of oil although olive oil options are still healthy enough when consumed in moderation.
On the other hand, fresh tuna provides an entire new recipe list as it can be served along salads, with fresh veggies, baked or seared.
Of course, eating it raw and thinly sliced as sashimi is also a great option.
If you are trying to eat healthier, you can definitely enjoy tuna at least once per week with some vegetables and even with a small amount of carbohydrate sources such as potatoes, pasta, rice or bread.
Basically, tuna is a wonderful and convenient pantry protein source for a quick meal.
Light tuna or white tuna?
Albacore is most definitely the most popular tuna in the United States and it is also the only species of fish labeled as “white” meat.
This is because it is lighter in color and also less flavorful than so-called “light” tuna, which is normally skipjack and yellowfin.
The “light” tuna’s meat is a bit darker and pinker as well as more flavorful.
To put things into perspective, light tuna is usually compared to chicken breast while white tuna is similar to chicken thigh.
To know exactly what type of tuna you’re getting, make sure to check out the ingredient labels carefully.
Look for BPA-free cans.
While you’re at it, you should also check the cans for dents and bulges as this might indicate some safety issues with the food inside.
Furthermore, choose brands that practice responsible fishing and do not let yourself be fooled by vague terms like “line caught.”
Instead, stick to pole caught or trolling if you can.
Finally, perhaps the most important part of a healthy diet and nutrition, check the label for the ingredients to find out what broths and oils have been added to the can and decide whether you actually want those in your meals or not.
Now that you know all the basics about tuna and what you should look for in the more convenient canned tuna, here are some of the best options on the market in no particular order!
Just apply everything you know when buying tuna cans and you’ll be able to always have at least a couple of cans in your pantry without compromising your health and diet.
Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna
One serving of Wild Planet Albacore Wild Tuna contains 100 calories, 2.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, 85 mg of sodium, no carbs and 21 grams of protein.
This brand has been rated as the best sustainable option by Greenpeace, Wild Planet and has really great sustainability.
Furthermore, the fish is pole and line or troll caught so there is much less of an unintentionally negative impact on marine life.
Not only that but the manufacturer also makes sure to offer their product for third party mercury testing.
They provide a variety of options including albacore and skipjack and the fish is canned in olive oil without any added salt so if you’re looking for a healthier option, this might be the one for you.
StarKist Chunk Light Tuna in Water
An even healthier option is StarKist Chunk Light Tuna due to the fact that it is canned in water so you can completely avoid the added oil!
One tuna can weighs 5 ounces, containing no less than 10 grams of protein in addition to being gluten and soy free in case you are allergic or following diets such as Keto, Paleo, Mediterranean and Weight Watchers.
The flavor is mild but delicious and features the dolphin safe.
It is also wild caught and of great quality, ideal for cool salads but also hot casseroles, sandwiches or consumed on its own.
It is a great source of protein and Omega 3s and only has 90 calories per can!
As mentioned before, tuna can be a great way to add some variety into a healthy diet whether for a snack or a hearty meal, on the go, at home or at the office.
One serving of American Tuna contains 100 calories, 5 grams of fat, 1.5 grams of saturated fat, 20 grams of sodium, no carbs and 14 grams of protein.
The brand is also rated highly by Greenpeace for their pole and line caught fish products and their full support of ocean conservation.
In fact, the tuna is completely traceable from the sea to your can and was founded by six fishing families, supporting small scale fishing and local fishing in the United States.
Not only that but this brand also features a variety of flavors including jalapeño and brick-smocked to name just a couple.
Of course, this means that there is a large variety of culinary options for you, made as easy as possible!
Finally, as far as nutrition is concerned, this brand claims that they have a “higher omega 3 than any other brand.”
Ortiz Bonito Del Norte – White Tuna in Olive Oil, 3.95-Ounce Tins
Imported from Spain, the Ortiz Bonito Del Norte is white tuna in olive oil that is of the most premium quality!
It features about 14 grams of protein and comes in a pack of four 4-ounce cans.
Safe Catch Elite Pure Wild Tuna
One serving of Safe Catch Elite Pure Wild Tuna contains 60 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, no saturated fat, 230 mg of sodium, no carbs and 14 grams of protein!
Furthermore, this is the official tuna of the American Pregnancy Association due to the fact that it contains really low mercury levels so if you are pregnant or planning to be soon, this is the best option for you!
In fact, they test each individual fish for mercury so their mercury contents are 10 times lower than the FDA action limit!
Furthermore, the tuna is sustainably caught without using any destructive fishing methods and by following the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program recommendations.
Kirkland Albacore Solid White Tuna in Water – 8 Cans
The Kirkland Albacore brand contains 8 cans of white tuna in water so it’s a very healthy option no matter your dietary needs.
It features no less than 16 grams of protein and it is dolphin safe.
Ocean Naturals Skipjack Chunk Light Tuna in Water
The Ocean Naturals Skipjack Chunk Light Tuna is canned in water, making for yet another healthy option.
It features no more than 60 calories per serving, also containing 0.5 grams of fat, no saturated fat, 180 mg of sodium, no carbs and 15 grams of protein.
It has been awarded a “green” label rating by Greenpeace and it is manufactured by a global company that practices responsible fishing and is really transparent about their practices.
It is also a supporter of the Earth Island Institute.
Furthermore, they list the species of fish used in each product very clearly and only use 4 ingredients in all their cans – tuna, water or olive oil and salt.
Their skipjack tuna has 230 mg of omega 3 fatty acids per each serving.
As for the light meat tuna, it is 100 percent skipjack in their case as opposed to combining a number of different species, some endangered, like some other brands do.
Wild Planet Sustainably Caught Wild Albacore Tuna, Cans, 5 oz
The Wild Planet Sustainably Caught Wild Albacore Tuna contains 14 grams of protein and is sustainably caught.
The package measures 8.128 cm X 8.128 cm X 3.302 cm and contains 5 oz cans.
Tonnino Tuna Fillets in Spring Water
The Tonnino Tuna Fillets contain 50 calories per can as well as 1 gram of fat, no saturated fat, 200 mg of sodium and 14 grams of protein.
The brand seems to feature a little bit more sodium than most others but it’s not such a big difference that it should be a deal breaker, not even for the most health-focused people!
This is a high end, gourmet option perfect for even the most selective taste buds.
It comes from a Costa Rican brand and is without a doubt quite the experience when compared to other standard tuna options.
This is made quite obvious at a first glance by the fact that it actually comes in glass jars.
The fish is soaked in either water or olive oil but also features a number of other flavorful ingredients such as garlic, jalapeño and capers.
They also source their fish only from vessels registered with CIATT, which is a group that ensures conservation of resources and also on-board observers that make sure no other species of fish aside from tuna are also caught in the process.
All in all, they use responsible fishing methods and also give back to their local communities.
Ortiz Ventresca White Tuna Belly in Oil – 10 pack
The last product on this list, the Ortiz Ventresca White Tuna Belly, comes in a 10 pack that weighs 1.47 Kilograms.
As the name also suggests, it contains delicious white tuna belly and is canned in oil.