Concerns about the mercury levels in fish have many people unsure about eating tuna. Although mercury should be a consideration for certain populations, tuna also has several health-promoting nutrients that are worth including in your meal plan. Read on to learn more about the nutritional costs and benefits of tuna steak calories and how to incorporate it as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Tuna Nutrition Facts
This nutrition information is provided by the USDA for 1 can (165g) of light tuna, packed in water (without salt) and drained.1
Tuna doesn’t contain any carbohydrates, fiber, or sugar.
Tuna is high in omega-3 fatty acids, but low in overall fat, containing less than 2 grams per can for “light” tuna. Different varieties of tuna, however, have different amounts of fat.2 The following common varieties are listed in order from most to least fatty: fresh bluefin, canned white albacore tuna, canned light tuna, fresh skipjack tuna, and fresh yellowfin tuna.
Tuna is very high in protein. A can of tuna provides 42 grams of complete protein with all of the essential amino acids.
Vitamins and Minerals
Tuna has calcium, phosphorus, potassium, zinc, B-vitamins, selenium, and choline. Like other canned foods, tuna can be high in sodium. Compare food labels to find low-sodium products or ones with no salt added.
Whether you have it fresh or canned, tuna has several health benefits to offer. Here are a few ways tuna might support your health.
Tuna can be eaten fresh or canned. Fresh tuna may be found as steaks, frozen fillets, or sushi and sashimi. Canned tuna is packed in water or oil. There are five species most commonly sold commercially.10
Albacore tuna is the type sold as white meat tuna. “Light” tuna is usually skipjack tuna. Yellowfin tuna is sometimes mixed with skipjack in light tuna cans but it is more often sold as “ahi tuna” steaks. For sushi and sashimi, bigeye tuna is popular. The most expensive tuna variety is bluefin tuna. Bluefin is exclusively used for sushi and sashimi.
Storage and Food Safety
If you’re buying fresh fish, avoid products that smell fishy, sour, or like ammonia. Fresh tuna has red flesh that should be firm. If indicators are present, check to be sure the fish was stored at the proper temperature. Fresh fish may be sold as “previously frozen” but should always smell fresh regardless. Frozen fish should be rock solid, not bendable.11
Place raw tuna on ice or in the refrigerator right away after purchasing it and use it within 2 days. If you don’t plan to use it that soon, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and foil and put it in the freezer. Wash your hands well with soapy water for 20 seconds after handling raw seafood. Sanitize countertops, cutting boards, and utensils after preparing raw fish.
How to Prepare
One of the most popular ways to prepare canned tuna is to make a tuna salad. While delicious, the ingredients contained in most recipes undermine many of the nutritional benefits of the fish. Be mindful of the amount of mayonnaise you use and add in vegetables for extra crunch, vitamins, minerals, and fiber such as onions, green peppers, or celery.