Canned foods are incredibly affordable – they’re shelf-stable, affordable, and (often) ready-to-eat (read: making mealtime a breeze). And contrary to popular belief, many types of canned foods, such as beans and vegetables, are very nutritious.
But of all the canned foods available, there is one you should always have on hand – we’re talking canned light tuna, folks.
When you have canned tuna in your pantry, you always have a quick, protein-rich meal on hand, says Leslie Langevin, RD, author ofThe anti-inflammatory cookbook for the kitchenAnd co-owner of Whole Health Nutrition.
This is probably why canned tuna is the third most popular fish in the United States, according to the National Fisheries Institute.
Read on to find out why eating canned light tuna – compared to other types of tuna – is a fantastic way to get all the nutrients of fresh fish (at a fraction of the price).
Clear canned tuna versus albacore tuna
“Light tuna refers to the species of tuna used, which is usually yellow and / or striped fin,” says Susie Polgreen, RD, CD with Whole Health Nutrition. “The meat is darker in color and has a softer texture than albacore tuna,” says Polgreen.
Bonus: Smaller species like yellowfin and tuna (light tuna) provide less mercury than larger albacore tuna (more on that later), Langevin says.
The benefits of canned light tuna
1. It is rich in Omega-3s
“One of the best health benefits of tuna is that it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which are a type of fat the body cannot produce on its own,” Polgreen says. This means you need to get these good fats out of your diet. And eating a piece of light tuna is a great way to do it.
“Omega-3s help reduce inflammation and are strongly linked to cardiovascular and brain health,” says Polgreen.
As anti-inflammatory fats, they are also essential for eye and skin health, Langevin adds.
“You want to choose canned tuna in water, not oil, as some of the omega-3s can get lost when you empty a can full of oil,” says Polgreen.
2. It is a good source of Vitamin D
“Canned tuna is one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D, which is one of the most important (but challenging) vitamins to be sufficient in,” says Polgreen.
True: Most of us are deficient in this vital vitamin, with about 42 percent of Americans having a vitamin D deficiency, according to the Cleveland Clinic’s Mercy Hospital.
But providing your body with vitamin D is vital as it plays a vital role in bone and heart health, immunity, and mood regulation, says Polgreen.
One serving of canned light tuna provides 2 micrograms of vitamin D, according to the USDA. This is 10 percent of the recommended daily value (DV).
While canned tuna is low in calories (142 calories per can), this fantastic fish is quite filling (read: curbs hunger pangs and keeps your cravings in check).
The satiety factor of canned tuna is related to its rich protein and fat content, says Langevin. This is because both macronutrients are digested slowly, which results in a feeling of satiety for longer.
A single serving of canned light tuna offers a whopping 32 grams of protein and 1.6 grams of fat (while it may seem like a small amount, it’s high in omega-3 fatty acids), says Langevin.
At 116.5 micrograms per can (which is 212 percent of the DV), light tuna is a significant source of selenium, according to the USDA.
Here’s why this is good news for your health: As an essential building block of many enzymes and proteins, selenium plays a role in DNA production, reproduction and metabolism of thyroid hormones, and helps protect against cell damage and infections. according to the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
5. It has less mercury than other types of tuna
“Mercury is often the biggest health concern of tuna consumption, as high mercury exposures have been linked to significant central nervous system alterations,” says Polgreen.
“Although all tuna has some mercury, light tuna is typically lower in mercury than albacore and therefore considered a safer choice,” he says.
For reference, the average mercury content of light tuna is 0.12 parts per million of mercury versus 0.32 parts per million of mercury for albacore tuna, Langevin says.
This is because smaller fish – such as skipjack tuna or yellowfin tuna (typically the type of tuna packed in light tuna cans) – accumulate less mercury in their lives than larger albacore tuna (the type found in tuna). canned white), says Langevin.
However, both Langevin and Polgreen recommend keeping your intake at around one can per week to limit dietary mercury levels.
Look for labels with “light tuna” (including yellowfin or skipjack tuna) and choose varieties packed in water (rather than oil) for a leaner option, says Langevin.
“Another thing you can do is choose brands that conduct mercury tests, such as Safe Catch ($ 21 per pack of 6) or Wild Planet ($ 16 per pack of 4),” agree Polgreen and Langevin.
How to eat light tuna
Here are some ways Langevin and Polgreen like to use canned tuna for a nutritious lunch, dinner, or snack:
- Prepare the fish pies by skipping the tuna with breadcrumbs, an egg, onion, celery and diced peppers and sauté the meatballs in olive oil.
- Mix the tuna with 1/2 avocado, a little lemon juice, diced onion and celery and serve over the vegetables.
- Drizzle the tuna with olive oil or avocado oil and herbs and collect it inside avocado and pitted peppers.
- Use tuna as a topper to add more protein to a chickpea paste.