My favorite way to eat tuna is canned water packed tuna made into a salad. A nice, calorie conscious Nicoise or a scrumptious American traditional tuna salad or tuna salad sandwich. I like canned tuna because it's high in protein and as an oily fish high in Omega-3. It's tasty and if packed in water it's low in fat, therefore calories. For a quick lunch or afternoon pick-me-up you can't beat it. And there are many ways to make a can of tuna into an economical, nutritious complete meal.
However, many sources are now advising to eat tuna not more than once or twice a month. I'm not talking fresh, wild caught tuna, the kind you struggle to catch yourself when sport fishing in Baja. I'm talking about most of the tuna that's caught in nets, in large quantities, as a business to be processed into the canned product. The reasons are both environmental due to sourcing methods, and safety due to the amount of mercury found in canned tuna.
So what am I so sad about that I avoided writing this blog for a whole week? It wasn't avoidance as much as concern that I should present the whole picture about tunafish, and especially canned tuna. So, I took my time and did some research, reading as much as I could and gathering so much information that a short blog would have turned into a long book had I tried to present it all. So, insead, I'm giving you some information and a lot of homework.
Like most processed foods, there are endless lists of the best and the worse of them. Here is my list from Greenpeace in ascending order from best to worse. Note that only the first 3 on this list are considered “safe” both because of the fishing methods and the amount of mercury exposure provided. The consensus in all the articles I read is that as long as you choose one of the top 3 canned tunas, it's OK to eat it weekly, but you should ensure it's canned light tuna. Why? you ask. Keep reading and find out why.
Canned light tuna is processed using Skipjack, believed to have a lower mercury content than Yellowfin or Albacore tunas. This was a surprise to me as well as distressful, since I prefer white Albacore tuna over all others, and it’s what I stock and eat. Since I’m very finicky and would rather go hungry or do without than eat a food I don’t absolutely love, I’ve chosen to eat my favorite tuna, white Albacore packed in water, once a month instead of more often just as a safety precaution for my health. So the consensus in all the articles I read is that as long as you choose one of the top 3 canned tunas, it's OK to eat it weekly, but you should ensure it's canned light tuna. As expected, the pricier cans are among the top 3 on the list. But for me it’s not a problem; since I’ve reduced the number of times I eat tuna, price isn’t a problem. What increases the cost of tuna is the catch method; sustainably caught is the only way to ensure that our sources of food are not depleted, and that the fish we’re eating is healthy and the catching methods are not endangering them and other species.
Below is some of the information I came up with. You can help me decide.
Best to Worse canned Tuna
To help you make the best choices for you, please check the URLs I’m including after the “best to worse” list for additional information about tuna, it’s benefits an potential risks. Whatever you eat, be informed before you do.