Tuna: Nutrition, Benefits, Risks, Cooking Ways, Selection & Stroage

by Ella

Tuna, a versatile and delicious seafood, has gained immense popularity worldwide. It’s not just a culinary delight; tuna is also a nutritional powerhouse packed with essential nutrients and health benefits. Whether you enjoy it as sashimi, in a sandwich, or as a main course, tuna offers a wide range of culinary possibilities. In this comprehensive article, we will delve deep into the world of tuna, exploring its nutritional value, potential health benefits, associated risks, various cooking methods, and more.

Tuna: A Nutritional Profile

Tuna is renowned for its remarkable nutritional content, making it a popular choice among health-conscious individuals. Here is an overview of the key nutrients found in tuna:


1. Protein

Tuna is a protein-rich food, making it an excellent choice for those looking to increase their protein intake. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of canned tuna provides approximately 20 grams of protein. Protein is essential for muscle maintenance, immune function, and overall growth and repair in the body.


2. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Tuna is one of the best dietary sources of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). These fatty acids are known for their heart-healthy benefits, including reducing inflammation, lowering the risk of heart disease, and promoting brain health.


3. Vitamins

Tuna is rich in various vitamins, including:


Vitamin D: Tuna is one of the few food sources of vitamin D, which is crucial for bone health, immune function, and overall well-being.

Vitamin B12: This vitamin is essential for nerve function, DNA synthesis, and red blood cell formation.

Vitamin A: Tuna provides vitamin A in the form of retinol, which is important for vision, skin health, and immune function.

4. Minerals

Tuna is a good source of essential minerals, such as:

Selenium: An antioxidant mineral that supports immune function and helps protect cells from oxidative damage.

Phosphorus: Important for bone health, energy metabolism, and cellular function.

Potassium: A mineral that helps regulate blood pressure, fluid balance, and muscle contractions.

5. Low in Calories and Fat

Tuna is relatively low in calories and fat, particularly saturated fat. A 3.5-ounce (100-gram) serving of canned tuna in water contains approximately 100 calories and only about 1 gram of fat. This makes tuna a lean protein source that fits well into various dietary plans.

Types of Tuna

Several species of tuna are consumed worldwide, with varying flavors, textures, and appearances. The most common types of tuna include:

1. Skipjack Tuna (Katsuwonus pelamis)

Skipjack tuna is one of the most widely consumed tuna species. It is often used in canned tuna products and is known for its mild flavor and flaky texture. Skipjack tuna is typically smaller in size compared to other tuna species.

2. Yellowfin Tuna (Thunnus albacares)

Yellowfin tuna is popular in both raw and cooked forms. It has a more pronounced flavor than skipjack and is often used in sushi and sashimi due to its firm texture and rich taste.

3. Albacore Tuna (Thunnus alalunga)

Albacore tuna, also known as “white tuna,” is known for its mild flavor and tender, white flesh. It is commonly used in canned tuna products and is prized for its versatility in various dishes.

4. Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus)

Bluefin tuna is highly sought after for its rich flavor and high-fat content. It is often regarded as the most premium tuna variety and is used in high-end sushi establishments. Due to overfishing concerns, bluefin tuna is considered an endangered species in some regions.

See Also: Which Tuna Has The Highest Protein Content? [Revealed!]

Health Benefits of Tuna

Consuming tuna as part of a balanced diet offers several notable health benefits:

1. Heart Health

Tuna’s high omega-3 fatty acid content can help reduce the risk of heart disease. Omega-3s are known to lower triglyceride levels, reduce inflammation, improve blood vessel function, and decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms).

2. Brain Health

The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna play a vital role in brain development and function. They are associated with improved cognitive function, reduced risk of neurodegenerative diseases, and better mental health.

3. Weight Management

Tuna is a lean protein source that can aid in weight management by promoting satiety and reducing overall calorie intake. Including tuna in a balanced diet can support weight loss or maintenance goals.

4. Immune Support

The vitamins and minerals in tuna, including vitamin D and selenium, contribute to a robust immune system. Adequate vitamin D levels are essential for immune cell function and overall immune health.

5. Anti-Inflammatory Properties

The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna possess anti-inflammatory properties, which can help reduce inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation is associated with various health conditions, including heart disease and arthritis.

6. Eye Health

Tuna is a good source of vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining healthy vision, particularly in low-light conditions. Adequate vitamin A intake can help prevent night blindness and other eye disorders.

See Also: Health Benefits & Risks of Eating Tuna Daily

Potential Risks and Considerations

While tuna offers numerous health benefits, it is essential to be aware of potential risks and considerations:

1. Mercury Content

Tuna, especially larger and older fish, can contain elevated levels of mercury. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that can have adverse effects on the nervous system, particularly in pregnant women and young children. To minimize mercury exposure, consider choosing smaller tuna species like skipjack or consuming tuna in moderation.

2. Sustainability

Overfishing is a significant concern for many tuna species, particularly bluefin tuna. To support sustainable fishing practices and protect the ocean ecosystem, opt for tuna products that bear sustainability certifications, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label.

3. Allergies

Some individuals may have allergies to seafood, including tuna. Allergic reactions to tuna can range from mild to severe, so it’s crucial to be aware of any seafood allergies and seek immediate medical attention in case of an allergic reaction.

4. Preparation Methods

The health benefits of tuna can be compromised by unhealthy preparation methods, such as deep frying or excessive use of high-calorie sauces. To maximize its nutritional value, consider grilling, baking, or searing tuna with minimal added fats and seasonings.

See Also: 10 Do’s & Don’ts of Preparing Seafood

Cooking with Tuna

Tuna’s versatility in the kitchen makes it a favorite among chefs and home cooks alike. Here are some popular cooking methods and recipe ideas to inspire your culinary journey with tuna:

1. Sushi and Sashimi

For an authentic Japanese experience, enjoy fresh, raw tuna as sushi or sashimi. Yellowfin tuna is a popular choice for these dishes due to its firm texture and rich flavor.

See Also: Best Sushi Rolls Recipes to Make At Home: A How-To Guide

2. Grilling

Grilling tuna steaks is a popular and healthy option. Season with herbs, olive oil, and lemon juice for a flavorful meal. Tuna’s firm texture makes it suitable for grilling.

3. Seared Tuna

Searing tuna quickly in a hot pan preserves its tenderness and flavor. A sesame crust or blackened seasoning can add a delightful crunch and flavor.

4. Tuna Salad

Create a refreshing and nutritious tuna salad by combining canned tuna with vegetables, herbs, and a light dressing. Serve it as a sandwich filling, on a bed of greens, or as a dip for crackers.

5. Tuna Pasta

Tuna pairs well with pasta. Create a simple tuna pasta dish by tossing cooked pasta with canned tuna, olive oil, garlic, and your choice of herbs and vegetables.

6. Tuna Curry

Explore international flavors with a tuna curry. Simmer canned tuna in a flavorful sauce made with coconut milk and a variety of aromatic spices.

7. Tuna Tacos

Make flavorful tuna tacos by mixing canned tuna with salsa, avocado, and lime juice. Serve in taco shells or lettuce wraps for a light and satisfying meal.

How to Select Tuna

Selecting the right tuna is essential to ensure that you enjoy a delicious and safe seafood experience. Whether you’re buying fresh tuna from a seafood market or canned tuna from a grocery store, here are some tips on how to select the best tuna:

1. Selecting Fresh Tuna:

Appearance: When choosing fresh tuna, look for a bright, glossy appearance. The flesh should be firm and moist, not dry or discolored. Avoid tuna with any brown spots or darkening.

Smell: Fresh tuna should have a clean and slightly oceanic smell, similar to the sea breeze. Avoid tuna that has a strong, “fishy” or unpleasant odor, as this can indicate deterioration.

Texture: Gently press the flesh of the tuna with your fingertip. It should bounce back and feel firm to the touch. If the flesh leaves an indentation or feels mushy, it may not be fresh.

Color: Tuna comes in various species, each with different color variations. For example, yellowfin tuna is known for its pink to deep red flesh. Albacore tuna has a lighter color. Choose the color that is typical for the species you are buying.

Transparency: Check for transparency in the flesh. Tuna with a translucent appearance is often considered of higher quality.

Bloodline: The bloodline is a dark red or brown strip of tissue found in tuna. While some people enjoy its flavor, others find it too strong. You can choose tuna with or without the bloodline, depending on your preference.

2. Selecting Canned Tuna:

Variety: Canned tuna comes in various types, including albacore (white tuna), skipjack (light tuna), and others. Choose the variety that suits your taste and recipe.

Packaging: Inspect the can for any dents, bulges, or damage. Damaged cans may indicate compromised product quality or safety.

Label Information: Read the label for important information such as the type of tuna, the liquid used (water, oil, or brine), and any additives or flavorings. Select a product that aligns with your dietary preferences and needs.

Sustainability: Consider purchasing canned tuna from brands that support sustainable fishing practices. Look for certifications like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) label or information on sustainable fishing practices on the label.

Expiration Date: Check the expiration or “best by” date on the can to ensure freshness. Select cans with the longest shelf life to maximize their usability.

Flavor Options: Canned tuna often comes in different flavors, such as plain, lemon, or herb-infused. Choose flavors that complement your recipes or personal taste.

Additional Tips:

If possible, buy tuna from reputable seafood markets, grocery stores, or brands known for their quality and freshness.

Ask the fishmonger or store staff for advice and recommendations if you’re unsure about which type of tuna to choose.

Consider buying tuna from local or sustainable sources to support environmentally friendly practices and the local economy.

How to Store Tuna

Storing tuna properly is crucial to maintain its freshness and prevent foodborne illnesses. Whether you have fresh tuna or canned tuna, here are some guidelines for storing tuna safely:

1. Storing Fresh Tuna:

Refrigeration: Fresh tuna should be refrigerated at temperatures below 40°F (4°C) to keep it from spoiling. Store it in the coldest part of your refrigerator, which is typically the bottom shelf near the back.

Packaging: Keep the fresh tuna in its original packaging or place it in an airtight container or a resealable plastic bag to prevent odors from the fish from permeating other foods in the refrigerator.

Use Quickly: Fresh tuna is highly perishable, so it’s best to use it within 1-2 days of purchase to enjoy it at its freshest. If you can’t use it within that timeframe, consider freezing it.

Freezing: To extend the shelf life, you can freeze fresh tuna. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in an airtight container or a freezer bag to prevent freezer burn. Use it within 2-3 months for the best quality.

Thawing: When you’re ready to use frozen tuna, thaw it in the refrigerator overnight. Avoid thawing at room temperature to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

2. Storing Canned Tuna:

Cool and Dry Place: Store unopened cans of tuna in a cool, dry place, such as a pantry or cupboard. Canned tuna doesn’t require refrigeration until it’s opened.

Expiration Date: Check the expiration date on the can. Use the oldest cans first to ensure freshness.

Refrigeration After Opening: Once you’ve opened a can of tuna, transfer any unused portion to an airtight container or cover it tightly with plastic wrap. Store it in the refrigerator.

Use Promptly: Use opened canned tuna within 2-3 days for the best flavor and quality. Discard any tuna that shows signs of spoilage, such as an off smell or unusual texture.

Tips for Safe Storage:

Always practice good hygiene when handling tuna. Wash your hands and utensils thoroughly to prevent cross-contamination with other foods.

If you notice any signs of spoilage, such as a sour or foul odor, slimy texture, or unusual color, discard the tuna to avoid foodborne illness.

Tuna salad or other dishes made with canned tuna should be refrigerated within 2 hours of preparation, especially if left out at room temperature. Consume them within 3-4 days.


Tuna is not only a culinary delight but also a nutritional powerhouse packed with essential nutrients and health benefits. Whether you enjoy it raw, grilled, or in various dishes, tuna offers numerous possibilities in the kitchen. However, it’s essential to be mindful of mercury levels, choose sustainable options, and use healthy cooking methods to maximize its nutritional value. By incorporating tuna into a balanced diet, you can savor its delicious taste while reaping its health benefits.



Wellfoodrecipes is a professional gourmet portal, the main columns include gourmet recipes, healthy diet, desserts, festival recipes, meat and seafood recipes, etc.

【Contact us: [email protected]

Copyright © 2023