Everything You Need to Know About Canned Tuna Nutrition
Top Reasons to Feel Good About Pouched and Canned Tuna Nutrition and Sustainability…
Every year, millions of Americans look to the internet for nutrition advice. While there are thousands of websites devoted to helping folks find healthier, high-quality food, it’s sometimes difficult to separate fact from fiction. Nowhere is this clearer than in the case of canned tuna nutrition. This highly versatile, nutrient-rich source of protein is one of the more misunderstood menu items in America. But don’t let the seemingly endless number of so-called fitness gurus and healthy-living bloggers obscure the science on canned tuna nutrition. Fish, especially tuna, is a highly healthy choice – read on to learn more about what makes it a nutritious option.
Canned Tuna is a Healthy Choice
Years of survey data show that Americans aren’t eating enough seafood, despite the fact that all the scientific evidence, including hundreds of peer-reviewed studies performed by health and nutrition researchers, show its important health benefits. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, for example, urge consumers to eat more fish and recommend tuna as a healthy option. The USDA too recommends that Americans eat at least 2-3 servings of seafood per week. That’s because seafood is rich in important nutrients, such as a vitamins B12 and D, iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorous, selenium and beneficial omega-3s called EPA and DHA.
Tuna is a particularly good option for families, as the nutrients in this fish are especially important for children. Protein is needed by quickly growing bodies and omega-3s play an essential part in healthy brain and eye development.
Canned Tuna Nutrition Reigns Supreme
Not only is canned tuna healthy, it’s one of the mildest tasting types of seafood, making it many Americans’ first fish from childhood. Canned tuna has a subtle smoky taste and a firm, flaky, and moist texture. Swap in tuna for beef or chicken in your favorite dishes like quesadillas, burgers, and pasta. Click here for a dozen additional easy ways to eat canned tuna.
Keep canned tuna in your pantry to always have a protein boost on hand. To store canned tuna once opened, transfer the unused fish to a reusable plastic or glass container with a lid or plastic bag. It will stay fresh after opening for 1- 2 days in the refrigerator.
What About Mercury in Canned Tuna?
Unfortunately, the most common myths about tuna are pushed by click-bait seeking alarmists, discredited TV gurus like Doctor Oz, and uninformed celebrities like Kim Kardashian and Jeremy Piven. In other words, “fake news.” Their claims are unsourced and unsubstantiated, but they create a climate of fear around seafood that contributes to a much bigger risk than mercury – the risk of missing out on the health benefits of eating fish.
The truth is, there has never been a case of mercury poisoning from normal consumption of commercial seafood recorded in any American medical journal. That’s right, zero cases.
Unfortunately, frequent fear-mongering on this matter has turned people away from a food experts recommend people eat more of, not less – seafood and tuna. According to the FDA’s own extremely conservative analysis of more than 100 scientific studies on seafood, the average person could eat tuna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day of the week without worry.
But many Americans aren’t getting that message. The FDA warns that most Americans are eating dangerously low amounts of seafood, a deficiency that contributes to nearly 84,000 preventable deaths each year. Another long-term study showed that children whose mothers had reduced their seafood intake during pregnancy had appreciably lower IQs.
Pushing dangerous health advice to the public may help celebrities explain away their bad behavior, but it makes everyone worse off.
Commitment to Sustainability
The tuna you feed your family isn’t just healthy, it’s sustainably sourced. A recent presentation from “renowned tuna fisheries scientist” Alain Fonteneau of the French Research Institute for Development (IRP) confirms ongoing efforts to manage tuna stocks help make tuna a sustainable fish.
As Fonteneau explained, even as “fishing efforts in most tuna fisheries have grown steadily in recent years. . .these stocks remain in a healthy state and are much less overfished than many other coastal resources…” In fact, none of the world’s 21 major tuna stocks have shown signs of critical collapse.
Skipjack and albacore, which comprise the vast majority of canned tuna in the United States, are particularly sustainable. That’s because the nation’s leading seafood providers recognize the tremendous social and environmental responsibility that comes with meeting global tuna demand. As part of their commitment to sustainability, tuna companies work with organizations like the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) to make sure they’re doing all they can to secure the future of our oceans. This commitment to sustainability means that you can feel good knowing that the tuna you feed your family is and will always be responsibly sourced.
“What’s This ‘Pole and Line’ I Keep Hearing About?”
Many activist groups ignore relevant data and often call for tuna companies to adopt a pole-and-line fishing approach, which they falsely claim will help the environment. It turns out, this method is actually much worse for the environment. A University of California study found that pole and line methods are extremely carbon intensive and use three to four times more fuel. That’s because many more boats are needed to catch the same amount of fish with this inefficient method, using much more fuel and creating higher carbon emissions. Talk about hurting the environment…
Pole and line isn’t just environmentally harmful, it’s an impractical method for meeting global demand. Broad adoption of pole and line would ultimately limit the supply of tuna, raising prices for working families that depend on it as a source of protein and other critical nutrients. That doesn’t seem to faze activists, but it should worry health-conscious consumers.
Despite their embrace of pseudo-science, we’ve made efforts to reach out to these groups, asking them to meet with sustainability experts at the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation to engage in a productive dialogue. Instead, they’re busy wasting millions in donor money desecrating sacred places, dressing up in ridiculous animal costumes, and making music videos. Why should donors and consumers trust anything they have to say?
What Really Motivates These Alarmists?
Despite leading seafood providers’ successful efforts to meet global demand in the most environmentally responsible way, and their commitment to ensuring that global tuna stocks remain healthy, radical activists continue to target the tuna industry with false allegations of environmental irresponsibility that are divorced from scientific reality. Why? Because these efforts can be profitable.
Here’s how it works: Alarmist fundraisers aim to reel-in donor funds by strong arming companies into doing their bidding. They start by making unsubstantiated or false claims about individual company’s environmental records. This “rank and spank” targeting strategy is meant to intimidate companies into seeking out some sort of face-saving compromise that allows activists to claim a victory, which these groups immediate fundraise off. Soon after, these companies learn that there’s no compromise to be found.
In what we’ve come to call the cycle of abuse, the targeted organization reaches an agreement that’s publicized in fundraising appeals, and then the activists inevitably come back—after a few months, or a few years—with a new round of attacks, and demands for even more unreasonable standards. Companies that have bent over backwards to meet increasingly taxing, scientifically dubious demands ultimately realize that they’ll never make these activists happy. As long as there are donations to be sought, they’ll always be a target.
The Truth about Canned Tuna
The truth is, seafood is a staple of a healthy diet, and there are few foods as versatile, delicious, and nutrient-rich as tuna. Americans concerned about the quality and sourcing of their food can sleep well at night knowing that America’s top tuna producers are committed to meeting global demand responsibly.
Eating Seafood While Pregnant
The Seafood Pregnancy Diet Guide
What to Eat While Pregnant
When you are pregnant, aim to eat a variety of cooked seafood 2-3 times each week.
Eating seafood during pregnancy is a good way to get the nutrients you and your baby need. Seafood is one of the only foods rich in a healthy oil called omega-3 DHA. Omega-3 DHA is needed for your baby’s brain and eye development.
Other nutrients found in seafood—including protein, calcium, vitamin D and iron—help build bones and muscles. This guide will show you tasty ways to meet your seafood needs so you and your baby can maximize the many benefits of fish.
Both words are used in this guide to mean all seafood, including fish and shellfish.
Why Fish is Healthy for the Baby
The most popular types of seafood in the U.S. are all safe and healthy to eat during pregnancy.
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding can eat both white (albacore) and light canned/pouched tuna as part of a variety of their 2-3 servings of seafood each week.
Top 10 Species of Seafood Consumed by Americans
- Canned/Pouched tuna
Fish to Avoid When Pregnant
The following fish should be avoided during pregnancy because they are higher in mercury, which can be harmful at very high levels.
- King mackerel
- Bigeye tuna (found in sushi)
- Orange roughy
Most Americans do not typically eat these fish, and there are many other seafood options you can enjoy.
What to Eat When Pregnant
To get the nutrients you and your baby need, it’s important to eat a variety of foods that are full of vitamins and minerals.
The Mediterranean Diet Pyramid shows examples of delicious and healthy food choices, including seafood.
Experts recommend the following weight gain for moms-to-be:
Research shows that moms-to-be who eat fish 2-3 times each week during pregnancy have babies who reach these milestones more quickly:
Most women only need about 300-400 extra calories a day during pregnancy.
These extra calories should come from a variety of healthy foods, like the following snack examples:
Sushi While Pregnant
Can You Eat Sushi While Pregnant?
Sushi is generally safe to eat during pregnancy—but stick with sushi that includes vegetables and cooked seafood. As with cooked fish, pregnant women should avoid sushi that contains shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, bigeye tuna, marlin and orange roughy. To reduce your risk of getting sick from food during pregnancy, do not eat any raw meats or raw seafood.
There are many kinds of cooked sushi. Just be sure to ask your server for cooked sushi and look for the “cooked” sticker when buying sushi from a grocery store.
Eating Out While Pregnant
Seafood can be a healthy choice when eating out. If you’re still learning how to cook fish at home, work towards the goal of eating seafood 2-3 times each week by ordering it at restaurants. In addition to cooked sushi, look for the following popular and healthy seafood menu items:
- Seafood tacos
- Fish burgers and sliders
- Seafood pasta
- Shrimp stir-fry
- Mac-n-cheese with lobster, tuna or salmon
- Grilled fish kabobs
Foods to Buy While Pregnant
Grocery shopping and Meal Planning for the Expecting Mom
Seafood contains nutrients you and your baby need, whether it is fresh, frozen, or canned. Frozen fish is quickly frozen at its peak freshness, meaning that the nutrients are sealed in. Thaw fish properly for optimal safety, texture and taste.
When you buy cold items, like fresh fish, purchase them last so they stay cool longer.
It’s best to thaw frozen seafood in the refrigerator overnight. If you need to thaw quickly, place frozen seafood in a sealed plastic bag and immerse in cold water for a short time.
Ideas for Lunch, Dinner and Snacks
Download the Seafood Pregnancy Diet Guide!
Several pregnancy and nutrition experts came together to share the advice found in this guide. We encourage you to download the guide for more information on
the benefits of seafood and pregnancy nutrition.
Click to download The Pregnant Woman’s Guide to Eating Seafood.
Benefits of Eating Fish and Seafood Based on Age
How Does Seafood Benefit You?
Seafood Nutritional Benefits
Eating seafood 2 to 3 times per week has scientifically-proven health benefits
The latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend that everyone, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, should increase the amount of seafood they eat to 2 to 3 servings each week for heart and brain health benefits. At a time when people are told to limit many foods, seafood is among the handful of “winning” foods that Americans are encouraged to eat more of for their health.
But, Americans aren’t eating enough seafood!
It is estimated that the average American eats about one serving of seafood a week – that means most people need to (at least) double the amount of fish and shellfish they eat to meet the recommended 2 to 3 servings. Additionally, consumer survey data shows 91 percent of parents with children 12 years and younger say their children aren’t eating seafood twice a week.i
Evidence suggests the average consumer may not perceive themselves at-risk for health conditions stemming from an omega-3 deficiency and, therefore, are not making necessary changes to their diet. In addition, many Americans are misinformed about the safety of eating various types of fish and express a lack confidence in selecting or preparing seafood.ii
What are they?
Omega-3s in seafood are a powerful nutrient—they help protect the heart, brain and eyes in babies and adults. The most powerful omega-3s available are found in seafood. Just 2-3 servings a week is all you need.
Omega-3s are a healthy type of fat. There are two main categories of omega-3s:
- Seafood contains mostly eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These are called long-chain omega-3s and have powerful heart and brain benefits.
- Plants and nuts contain mostly alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) omega-3s. These are also called short-chain omega-3s. While ALA omega-3s are healthful, they are not offer the same powerful heart and brain benefits as EPA and DHA.
Your body cannot make omega-3s on its own and it doesn’t do a good job turning ALA into EPA and DHA. In fact, a deficiency in omega-3s can be harmful. Research shows that a diet low in omega-3s contributes to 84,000 preventable deaths per year.i So it is important to eat seafood, to get plenty EPA and DHA omega-3s.
What are the health benefits?
Studies have shown that omega-3s, which are found in abundance in fish like tuna, help to keep brains and hearts healthy throughout a person’s life – and are even important before you’re born!
Help little ones’ brain and eyes develop, especially during the third trimester. During pregnancy, all of the DHA gathered by the growing baby must come from the mother’s diet.
Boost your mood. Plenty of DHA can help prevent or manage depression during and after pregnancy ii
Help your heart stay strong. DHA and EPA boost heart health by decreasing blood triglyceride levels, slowing the buildup of plaques that contribute to the “hardening of the arteries,” lowering blood pressure slightly and reducing the risk of abnormal heart rhythms that can lead to sudden death. iii
Stay strong and healthy. Omega-3s can be beneficial for your heart, brain and joints.
Protein and Calories
What are Protein and Calories?
Protein is an important part of every cell in the human body and makes up a large part of your skin, hair, nails, muscles, organs and glands. It builds, maintains and replaces the tissues in your body. Enzymes, hormones and blood all contain protein too.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), calories are a tool for measuring the amount of energy a food or beverage contains, which fuels your body. iv
Why do We Need Them?
In fewer than 200 calories, seafood, such as tuna in water, packs a protein punch with about 20 grams per serving.
Your body needs protein from food to repair cells and make new ones. It’s a necessary part of your diet in all stages of your life, but especially during those when you tend to grow a lot – like childhood and adolescence. You may also need a little extra protein during injury and sickness. Women require more protein during pregnancy. Besides seafood, other common protein-rich foods include meat, beans and dairy.
Whether at work, play or even when you’re resting, your body also needs energy from calories. However, consuming too many calories can cause you to gain weight, so it’s important to choose foods that provide enough nutrients without too many calories.
The amount of protein and calories you need depends on your age and health.
Women who are at a healthy weight before getting pregnant should expect to gain 25 to 35 pounds as they carry their baby. Eating nutrient-rich foods that are low in calories, like seafood, can help mom and baby get essential protein and contribute to healthy weight gain.
Protein helps the body repair and make new cells. This is especially important during childhood and adolescence, when a child is growing a lot. Seafood is a low-calorie, high-protein food that can help meet a growing child’s needs.
Generally, most adults need 2 to 3 servings of protein rich food each day to meet their needs. One serving is about 3 to 4 ounces of seafood, meat or poultry.
Protein can help maintain strong bones and organ health. As we age, it is important to eat a diet rich in low-calorie, high-protein foods such as seafood.
i Danaei, G., Mozaffarian, D., Taylor, B., Rehm, J., et al. (2009). The Preventable Causes of Death in the United States: Comparative Risk Assessment of Dietary, Lifestyle, and Metabolic Risk Factors. PLoS Med 6(4).
ii Harrison, L. (2001, November 1). Psychology Today. Eating fish during pregnancy and lactation may benefit mother and child. Available at: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200111/eating-fish-during-pregnancy-and-lactation-may-benefit-mother-and-child. Accessed March 5, 2012.
iii Horn, L. V., PhD, RD., McCoin, M., MPH, RD., Kris-Etherton, P. M., PhD, RD., Burke, F., MS, RD.,Carson, J. A. S., PhD, RD., Champagne, C. M., PhD, RD., Sikand, G., MA, RD. (2008, February). The Evidence for Dietary Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 108(2).
iv United States Department of Agriculture. Weight Management & Calories. Available at: http://www.choosemyplate.gov/weight-management-calories/calories.html. Accessed February 22, 2012.