Fish eating made easy: canned tuna

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Eat fish twice a week? Canned tuna to the rescue.

You’ve probably heard the recommendation to Eat More Fish.  Fish is healthy.  It’s high in omega-3 fats (well, some fish are), low calorie (well, some fish are) and high protein.  The Mediterranean Diet advises people to eat fish twice a week.  But eating more fish can be problematic.  Fresh fish is expensive.  It doesn’t stay fresh for long, so you have to plan to cook it soon after purchase.  Sometimes it isn’t all that fresh when you buy it, especially if it’s transported hundreds or thousands of miles from coastal areas to inland grocery stores.  Eating less-than-fresh fish could easily turn you off to eating fish again.  Frozen fish can solve that problem, but then you’ve got expensive fish that’s been frozen; it’s not quite the same as fresh fish eaten the same day it was caught.  Then there’s the actual cooking.  Fish is delicate, and overcooking can ruin it.

What to do?  There’s a really easy solution for people who do want to eat more fish but don’t want to deal with fresh fish: canned tuna.  It’s widely available, convenient and easy to use.

Pluses:

  • convenient
  • easy to use
  • no waste or mess
  • no cooking involved

Drawbacks

  • it’s already cooked, so doesn’t work as a cooked entree, or in recipes that call for fresh fish
  • usually mixed with high fat dressing like mayonnaise, adding calories
  • some people object to the salt content

The best choice is white meat (albacore) tuna canned in water.  Tuna that’s canned in oil will have more calories from added vegetable oil.

Nutrition Facts for 3 oz

  • 110 calories
  • 20 grams protein
  • 2.5 grams fat, some of which is omega-3
  • no sugar or carbs

Easy ways to use canned tuna:

  1. Tuna salad: mix with mayo, or half olive oil/half mayo.  Add finely minced celery or pickle relish, grated carrot, red onion or whatever other vegetables you might like.  Use in sandwiches or wraps, or just eat it with a fork.
  2. Add flakes of tuna to salads.  Works really well with chunky vegetable salads, made with cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini, radishes or other fresh veggies.
  3. Use plain tuna in a wrap, with chopped fresh vegetables, salsa and grated cheese
  4. Make a tuna melt: arrange drained tuna pieces on toast, top with tomato slices and grated cheese, broil to melt the cheese
  5. Make tuna and white bean salad.    Serve with fresh corn on the cob for an easy summer dinner.

What about tuna overfishing?  It’s definitely a problem, especially for Atlantic species.  But all ocean fishing is becoming a problem, what with overfishing and bycatch of other species.  According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, all tuna sold in the US must be dolphin-safe.  A variety of organizations grant sustainable seafood labels to some varieties of fish, but there is no official standard for that definition, and the labels may be more confusing than helpful.  For more information, check out Seafood Watch’s tuna recommendations.

Copyright: All content © 2010-2018 Nutrition Strategy Advisors LLC. Photographs © Donna P Feldman, unless otherwise attributed. Reproduction or use without permission is prohibited.