While tuna is tasty and healthy, limiting your consumption to reasonable amounts is vital. When consuming tuna, it’s crucial to take mercury exposure into account. Compared to other meats, tuna has less fat and a lot of protein. As a result, tuna is a fantastic choice for anyone trying to increase their protein intake. But mercury, a dangerous heavy element, can also be present in large amounts in tuna. Health experts recommend limiting mercury intake, especially for young children and expectant mothers.
The advice for eating tuna healthfully can vary widely. Several sites claim that consuming more tuna than one serving per week may harm your health. According to other sources, you would have to consume at least three tuna cans every day for six months to be at risk of mercury toxicity. The American Food and Drug Administration advises limiting weekly consumption of albacore (white) tuna to less than 4 ounces and that of skipjack (light) tuna to less than 12 ounces. Children and pregnant or potentially pregnant women should pay less of these sums.
Tuna Nutrition Facts
What is Exactly Tuna?
Fish that belong to the tribe Thunnini, a subset of the Scombridae family, include tuna (also known as “tunny”) (the mackerel family). The tribe comprises 15 species across five genera, the majority of which belong to the genus Thunnus. The two most significant tuna varieties in cuisine are probably the bluefin, which has red, fleshy loins cut into steaks or thin strips for sushi, and the albacore, which turns pale and flaky when canned.
The largest member of the tribe, the Atlantic bluefin tuna (Thunnus thynnus), can weigh up to 1,500 pounds. They are the only fish that can maintain a body temperature higher than their water temperature. Oceans worldwide are home to tuna migration, which may reach speeds up to mph.
Tuna has a very varied flavor depending on the species, the form, and the application. However, several fundamental traits persist across all of its incarnations. Tuna has a rich, almost creamy, melt-in-your-mouth feel when served raw, rare, or packed in oil. Fresh tuna has a sweet, salty flavor that tends to become more noticeable when it is preserved. However, when combined with mayonnaise, cheese, or cream, the sweetness and creaminess return.
How Much Tuna can you Eat a Week?
One’s weight and the sort of tuna they consume are two things that affect how much tuna they can safely eat each week.
The American Heart Association states that canned light tuna has roughly 0.12 parts per million of mercury and has the fewest omega-3 fatty acids of any tuna. Men can take 14.5 ounces of light tuna every week, while women can have 12.5 ounces, provided they are not pregnant. In such a case, it is recommended to stay away from tuna altogether. The American Pregnancy Association advises consuming no more than 36 ounces of chunk light tuna each month.
Because the tuna used to produce canned albacore tuna are often quite large, they have a higher mercury content than canned chunk light tuna. Expectant mothers should avoid albacore tuna. Men should have no more than 5 ounces of albacore per week. At the same time, non-pregnant women should consume no more than four ouncesIncludeded in the overall tuna catch limit and not in addition to the advised limit for chunk light tuna.
Tuna steaks are most likely to contain the greatest levels of mercury and omega-3 fatty acids of all the other selections. The precise mercury concentration, however, varies depending on the kind of tuna used to manufacture the steaks. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends consuming no more than 6 ounces of tuna steak weekly.
While yellowfin tuna typically contains around the same amount of mercury as canned albacore tuna, skipjack tuna steaks are lower in mercury and have a level comparable to that found in canned light tuna, so you can eat them in the same quantities as both forms of tuna. The American Pregnancy Association advises against eating bigeye and ahi tuna since they are among the fish species with the highest mercury concentrations.
What are the Different Varieties of Tuna?
Although there are 15 different species of tuna as well as numerous subspecies, the four most common types are listed here:
- Albacore Tuna: The most popular type of tuna, albacore, has the lightest flesh and mildest flavor. It is usually offered in cans under the white albacore tuna and is more expensive than light chunk tuna.
- Bluefin Tuna: The variety of choice for connoisseurs of fresh tuna is bluefin. The majority of the fish in this variety weighs well over a thousand pounds. Its flesh is a dark crimson to almost purple, and it has more fat and flavor than most other types. Most of the bluefin catch is exported to Japan, where it is purchased for sashimi at a high price.
- Skipjack Tuna: A reasonably priced variant, skipjack tuna is typically packaged as light chunk tuna. It is often the tiniest kind, rarely growing more than 25 pounds, and has the greatest flavor and fat content. This fish often referred to as arctic bonito or Aku, enjoys jumping and skipping across the ocean’s surface. Katsuobushi, or dried bonito, is a common ingredient in Japanese cooking.
- Yellowfin Tuna: Yellowfin The quality of tuna, commonly known as ahi, is comparable to bluefin but less expensive. The grocery shop or fish market are good places to find yellowfin. Its color is dark pink, and its flavor is stronger than albacore. Ahi fish used in poke bowls and sushi rolls is raw, sashimi-grade. Additionally, it cooks beautifully whether seared, grilled, or canned.
What are the Health Benefits of Eating Tuna?
Vitamin B12, required for the formation of DNA, is abundant in tuna. Additionally, vitamin B12 aids in the production of new red blood cells and helps to ward off anemia.
Additional advantages of consuming tuna for health include:
Lower Risk of Heart Disease
The abundance of omega-3 fatty acids in tuna fish may contribute to a decrease in LDL cholesterol and omega-6 fatty acids that can build up in the heart’s arteries. According to studies, more omega-3 fatty acids are linked to lower incidences of cardiovascular illness, including heart attacks.
Prevent Vision Problems
Additionally, the omega-3 fatty acids in tuna appear to be beneficial for eye health. Women who consumed multiple portions of tuna each week had as much as a 68% lower risk of developing dry eye, according to a survey of 40,000 female health professionals. Omega-3 fatty acids may also improve the retina’s general health.
Reduced Risk of Cancer
Omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna are also thought to lessen inflammation and decrease the formation of malignant cells. This is significant since persistent inflammation has been linked to numerous cancer forms.
Support Weight Loss
It’s a lean flesh, tuna. As a result of its low-calorie content and relatively high protein content, it helps you feel fuller for longer and prevents you from eating more. In one study, teens who had tuna or other lean fish regularly for several weeks lost an additional two pounds of weight on average than the control group.
Exposure to Mercury is Dangerous
Due to the risks of mercury exposure, mercury in tuna is a health problem.
- Mercury can accumulate in your body over time, just as it does in the tissues of fish over time. A doctor can check the levels of mercury in your blood and hair to determine how much mercury is in your body.
- High mercury exposure levels can destroy brain cells and affect concentration, memory, and fine motor abilities.
- In a study of 129 people, those with the highest mercury contents severely underperformed on memory, reasoning, and fine motor skills tests.
- Anxiety and despair may also result from mercury exposure. A study of persons exposed to mercury at work discovered that they processed information more slowly than control subjects and had much higher levels of sadness and anxiety symptoms.
- Finally, the risk of heart disease has been associated with mercury buildup. This might be because mercury plays a part in fat oxidation, which might result in this condition.
In a study involving more than 1,800 men, those who consumed the most fish and had the highest mercury levels had a twofold increased risk of dying from heart attacks and other cardiovascular diseases. However, another study indicates that ingesting large amounts of mercury is not linked to an increased risk of heart disease and that the advantages of eating fish for heart health may outweigh any potential hazards.
How to Prepare Tuna?
You can find tuna fresh or canned at grocery stores across the country. Since canned tuna contains less mercury than fresh tuna, it may be a better option for some. Canned tuna is always cooked beforehand and can be eaten directly upon opening.
Tuna steaks purchased at the grocery store can be baked, grilled, or sautéed in a skillet. Apply the seasoning or marinade of your choice before cooking. You can buy frozen tuna steaks year round or wait for tuna to be in season.
Here are a few ideas for incorporating more tuna into your diet:
- Add tuna to a fresh Mediterranean salad.
- Marinade tuna steaks with olive oil and minced jalapeño for a spicy kick.
- Place slices of bread topped with tuna and cheese in the oven to make quick tuna melts.
Use tuna in place of beef to make a tuna burger.
Your age, weight, and the sort of tuna you eat are just a few variables that affect how much tuna is healthy to consume. Larger tuna have higher mercury contents due to bioaccumulation. Big, enduring fish include bluefin, yellowfin, and bigeye tuna. They, therefore, have greater mercury concentrations. Per 3-ounce meal, large bigeye tuna can have up to 60 micrograms of mercury. This goes above the EPA’s suggested weekly exposure limit for an average adult.
On the other hand, smaller skipjack tuna typically has closer to 12 micrograms of mercury per 3-ounce meal. Between the two are yellowfin and albacore tuna, which have about 30 micrograms per 3 ounces of mercury. Given these mercury levels, three to four portions of low-mercury tuna per week are safe for consumption. Tuna with a higher mercury content should only be eaten once per week.