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Healthy Diet Plans >>  Therapeutic Value of Different Foods >>  Fish and Seafood >>  Tuna

Tuna Health Benefits

Tuna and shrimp top the list of favorite seafood consumed by Americans all through the year. Tuna benefits are available to all those who consume the fish in one form or another, fresh, frozen, canned, pickled, smoked, and as steaks or filets. Over fifty different species of tuna are fished in different oceans around the world. One of the major benefits of tuna is that it is an excellent source of protein and essential nutrients for the body. Tuna meat is often white in color, though it may sometimes be deep red or pink.
Health benefits of tuna range from the reduction of the risk of cancer to lowering the levels of LDL or bad cholesterol in the blood. 

Ahi tuna, with its rich texture and delicate flavor, is popular among calorie watchers because it is low in calories and high in taste and nutritive value. Ahi tuna benefits include the development of lean muscle thanks to the plentiful protein and vitamin B in it. Ahi tuna can give a boost to the body’s immune system as well, because the selenium in contains stimulates the production of antioxidants to fight the damage to cells from free radicals. Consuming omega-3 fatty acid rich fish like tuna helps to reduce damage to the skin from sun burn and may even protect the skin from cancer. Apart from tuna benefits for skin, there are far more important benefits from the consumption of tuna such as prevention of heart disease and stroke and regulation of blood pressure. Fresh tuna, used in salads, sushi and other dishes contains more omega -3 fatty acids than canned tuna, though the canned variety is equally rich in other nutrients like proteins and vitamins.

Canned Tuna Benefits

Convenience and availability tops the list of canned tuna benefits, making it the ideal health food to carry when you are out camping or go trekking in the wild. This nutrient dense food is vital to provide fuel to the body when energy required may be high, but fresh food may be hard to come by. The protein and vitamins in tuna reenergize the body and allow the body to recoup its energy for the next day. Canned tuna health benefits are availed by dieters as well as bodybuilders who know that there are no carbohydrates and very little fat in tuna. This is also the reason that tuna is considered a super food for growing children as proteins are vital for all-round growth and development in children. Canned tuna for babies may be introduced after the baby has been on solid food for a couple of months, initially with small moist pieces. It is best to introduce fish in the baby’s diet at an early age since it is an acquired taste. Mild flavored fish like tuna can help cultivate the taste of seafood in toddlers. Tuna fish cakes and mashed potato tuna pies are two very popular dishes with canned tuna for toddlers. Mercury contamination in tuna and other fish is a concern that many people have about eating tuna regularly. Many dieticians and doctors feels that canned tuna for pregnant women may not be safe as it may contain mercury. But it must be remembered that tuna used for canning is usually smaller and are caught before they are a year old, making it unlikely that mercury levels will be higher than in fresh tuna. The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in tuna is said to help regulate blood pressure and consuming fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids two or three times a week can be of great help to the body. Salads or sandwiches with fresh or canned tuna for high blood pressure is a far more tasty option than swallowing fish-oil pills to get the same benefits. It is amazing that while canned tuna for bodybuilding helps to build lean muscle mass thanks to its high protein content, a tuna diet helps people who are overweight to shed pounds. Tuna with its rich taste and texture is also a filling food that satisfies hunger quickly and keeps hunger pangs at bay for a longer period of time. Canned tuna for weight loss is packed with water instead of oil to help reduce the total calorie count in a tuna sandwich or a tuna salad. Consuming tuna twice a week is said to help in delaying the onset of dementia and cognitive decline in patients with Alzheimer’s disease. The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna also help in reducing inflammation for those with arthritis problems, and children with asthma get fewer attacks when they include tuna in their diets regularly.

Albacore Tuna Benefits

Albacore tuna benefits are better than oil or water packed canned tuna because of the natural pack process used in canning it. Most dietitians recommend the inclusion of seafood at least twice a week in the diet, and albacore tuna with its white color and taste akin to chicken is one the most popular choices of tuna for the dining table. Those who know the health benefits of albacore tuna call it the chicken of the sea and encourage even young children to try it. Troll caught albacore tuna, available fresh from July through October, are caught near the surface in the cold waters of the Pacific. Benefits of albacore tuna caught in the cold water is far superior to those caught in warm waters as the former have more of the heart-healthy omega 3 fatty acids.

Raw Tuna Benefits

Sashimi grade tuna is the best choice for those who wish to get the benefits of eating raw tuna and enjoy its chewy texture. Yellow fin tuna or ahi as it is called in Hawaii is ideal for salads and raw tuna appetizers. Japanese cuisine recognizes raw tuna benefits and one can find a number of Japanese recipes using raw tuna like tekkamaki. Freshness of the fish is an important factor when consuming raw tuna, side effects like an upset stomach or nausea could be caused by stale fish, mercury contamination, or the presence of parasites in the fish. People have been enjoying tuna since immemorial time; canned tuna is one of the favorite and accounts for more American eating tuna than any other type of fish. Tuna is a cold water fish that has a wonderfully firm dense texture with meaty flavor and is available throughout the year; however December is the beat time to get fresh Hawaiian tuna.

Tuna Nutritional Facts

Tuna is highly nutrient dense fish. It is high in good quality protein, excellent source of selenium, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, niacin, folic acid and the most beneficial omega 3 fatty acids.
  1. Omega 3 fatty acids (mainly EPA and DHA) are the essential fatty acids that the body can not synthesize and thus has to be supplied via external sources. They have a protective effect mainly to the cardiovascular system in terms of preventing erratic heart rhythms, improving the HDL to LDL ratio, preventing high blood pressure, preventing atherosclerosis, preventing the blood to clot in the arteries, reducing inflammation, lowering triglycerides and reducing the risk of stroke. Tuna promises cardiovascular benefits by increasing heart rate variability that is a measure of cardiac function. By greater variability between heart beats the risk of heart arrhythmia and sudden death is lowered. Broiled or baked tuna fish may lower atrial fibrillation that is the most common type of heart arrhythmia.
  2. Folic acid along with vitamin B6 and vitamin B12 helps to keep the levels of homocysteine low. High homocysteine levels is directly associated with atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.
  3. Magnesium from tuna helps to relax the arteries and veins which in turn lessens resistance and improves blood flow thus delivering more nutrients and oxygen to the body.
  4. Fish consumption is also related to other benefits like having a protective effect against deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, protect against cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, age-related cognitive decline, childhood asthma, protection for postmenopausal women with diabetes, prevent obesity and insulin resistance, reduces inflammation, protects against sunburn, reduce the risk of leukemia, multiple myeloma, colon and kidney cancer. The omega 3 fats also improve moods, reduce depression and reduce the risk of macular degeneration and fend off dry eye syndrome.
  5. People with purine related problems like gout, uric acid problems or kidney problems should consume tuna with caution as it has these naturally occurring purines that should be avoided in such conditions. The U.S. Food and Drug Administrations have issued a recommended that pregnant women, nursing mothers and young children should not exceed canned albacore tuna more than six ounces per week. This is due to the raising concern of metal contamination like mercury or lead in the fish.
Submitted on January 16, 2014