If you don’t live in a major city or along the coast, it can be pricey to get fresh fish. And factoring in shelf life and tricky cooking methods, it can seem like a waste of money if you’re not planning on preparing it ASAP. Thankfully, if you’re looking to take advantage of the nutritious, inflammation-fighting benefits of fish, there’s always canned tuna. And as convenient as this shelf-friendly food is, there’s gotta be a catch somewhere. Is it actually healthy? Isn’t it loaded with mercury? You’d be surprised to learn the answers! Keep reading to learn more about the many health benefits of tuna.
The Many (Many) Benefits Of Tuna
There are tons of benefits to eating tuna, from eye health to aiding weight loss. Here are the many reasons why you may want to add more of these non-perishable cans to your pantry the next time you hit the grocery store aisles.
- Tuna is heart-healthy. Tuna contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids to bring balance into the blood vessels, and reduce cholesterol in the arteries.
- It boosts the immune system. This fish is rich in manganese, zinc, vitamin C, and selenium — all major boosters of the immune system. In fact, a single serving of tuna meat is approximately 200% of daily antioxidant requirements.
- Tuna can help reduce your blood pressure. This potassium-rich food can lower high blood pressure and even bring an anti-inflammatory effect to the cardiovascular system. (Canned tuna can also contain a lot of sodium, so if you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, try and consume uncanned, fresh tuna instead.
- Eating tuna can improve eye health. Consuming tuna and taking advantage of its omega-3s can help battle macular degeneration, which lowers the vision of the eye and slowly brings blindness.
- It strengthens your bones! The benefits of tuna and its high vitamin D content help strong and healthy bones.
- It can boost your circulation! Tuna contains iron and vitamin B to strengthen the blood cells and boost blood circulation to improve the oxidation of organs.
- Tuna improves your skin health. Introducing tuna into your diet also means better skin! It contains elastin to repair tissue and keep skin looking smooth and healthy.
- Eating tuna can aid in weight loss. This fish is low-calorie and full of protein and healthy nutrients that boost health and metabolism and reduce fat. It also contains leptin to help curb cravings.
In addition to the benefits listed above, studies have also shown that eating tuna can help prevent stroke, help fight kidney disease, boost energy, and more!
Is it better to eat tuna in oil or water?
It depends on your taste preferences and nutritional goals. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of tuna in oil and water:
The Pros and Cons of Tuna in Oil
- Tuna in oil will have double (sometimes even triple!) the calories than tuna in water.
- When packed in oil, it will naturally bond with the fats in tuna. So when you’re draining the oil, you may be taking some of the nutritional benefits with you.
- Tuna in oil is more bone-friendly food. One-half cup of tuna in oil has 4.9 micrograms of vitamin D, while 1/2 cup of tuna in water has only 0.83 micrograms.
The Pros and Cons of Tuna in Water
- Some people may find tuna in water to be less “slimy” than tuna in oil.
- Tuna in water is healthier. A Public Health Nutrition study found water-packed tuna has about three times more of the beneficial EPA and DHA omega-3 fats as tuna in oil.
- Water-packed tuna usually has fewer calories.
At the end of the day, it’s all about personal preference! You’re more likely to enjoy this nutrient-rich food if the flavor is appealing to you, so go with the one that tastes better to you!
How much tuna is too much?
Consuming tuna may bring tons of health benefits, but it also may put you at risk for mercury poisoning if you overindulge. And as far as mercury levels go, it depends on the type of tuna you’re eating.
Good news: canned light tuna is usually the lowest in mercury, with about 0.12 parts per million, according to the American Heart Association. Men can safely consume 14.5 ounces of light tuna per week, and women can consume 12.5 ounces per week.
Albacore tuna is usually larger, so it will contain more mercury. Men should limit albacore consumption to no more than 5 ounces per week, and women should eat no more than 4 ounces per week.
Tuna has countless benefits to make it a worthwhile (and budget-friendly!) addition to your diet. Just pay attention to how often you’re consuming and don’t be afraid to experiment with different preparations to find a recipe that you’ll add to your healthy rotation!
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