The Truth About Tuna

Canned tuna is one of the most affordable and available sources of omega-3s in the American diet. There are two primary types of canned tuna- white (also known as albacore) and light. White albacore tuna is particularly high in omega-3s and both are low in mercury. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration level of concern for mercury in fish is 1.0 parts per million (ppm). Both types of canned tuna are at least 65 percent lower than this level.

Canned Tuna Type (3 oz)

Omega-3s (mg)

Mercury (ppm)

White (Albacore)



Light (Skipjack)



For the general population, there are no kinds of commercial fish to limit or avoid, including canned tuna. Simply eat a variety of seafood at least twice each week.

For pregnant and breastfeeding women, the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA) clearly state this group avoid just four rarely eaten, exotic fish including shark, swordfish, king mackerel, and tilefish and “can eat all types of tuna, including white (albacore) and light canned tuna…” of which up to six ounces a week can be white (albacore) tuna.

The most up-to-date and authoritative review of seafood science can be found in the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation on the Risks and Benefits of Fish Consumption, published in September 2011. This report is clear that seafood species with traces of mercury higher than white albacore tuna do not raise a concern, even when eaten daily during pregnancy. In fact, the FAO/WHO assessment found that eating fish once a day or seven servings per week delivered important health benefits and no risk from mercury.