The Curious Case of Tuna Fish


Tuna fish is a popular seafood and it includes several species of fish, such as skipjack, albacore, yellowfin, and bigeye; the most commonly consumed is the skipjack. It is common that seafood products can be expensive; that is why people opt for canned fish. Canned tuna is one of the most consumed canned seafood products around the world.

Whether eaten fresh or canned, tuna is highly nutritious and incredibly beneficial to your body and can boost your health. However, some people question whether it is safe to consume tuna, and how much tuna should be consumed.

Tuna can lower the risk of heart diseases as it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can help reduce the level of omega-6 fatty acids and cholesterol, which can clog up the arteries of the heart. It is also believed that the Tuna’s omega-3 fatty acids can slow the growth of tumor cells and reduce inflammation in the body.

Anyone who wants to lose weight can add Tuna to their diet plan, since it is a lean meat and relatively high in protein but low in calories. It can help you stay full for a longer period. Moreover, Tuna is a great source of several vitamins and minerals, such as Vitamin D, Iron, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Selenium, and Iodine.

Even though tuna is packed with all of these nutritious elements, at a point, it can impose some serious health issues due to the presence of high amounts of mercury. Mercury is a toxic heavy metal that is emitted into the atmosphere through volcanic eruptions or industrial activity such as coal burning. Tuna fish is exposed to mercury more than others, because its diet mainly depends on small fish that are contaminated with mercury. Mercury is not easily excreted, so it builds up in the tissues of tuna; after consuming it, mercury can build up in your body too.

High levels of mercury in the body can lead to some serious health issues, such as brain cell death, which can result in impaired motor skills, memory, and focus. Mercury is also related to increased levels of anxiety and depression. Exposure to mercury can be very harmful to children and pregnant women. In children, mercury can affect the absorption of nutrients by the brain, leading to some learning disabilities and developmental delays. Mercury can also affect the development of the embryo.

Canned tuna contains lesser amounts of mercury than fresh tuna because of the size of the fish used. However, canned tuna can contain big amounts of sodium, especially if it is packed in brine. Consuming too much sodium can lead to high blood pressure and cardiovascular issues. When buying tuna, look for skipjack fish or canned light tuna; avoid albacore or bigeye, which contain more mercury. As for canned tuna, look for those packed in water or olive oil, not brine or any fatty oils.

It is recommended that adults eat tuna in moderation and consider other fish options that are relatively low in mercury. 2-3 servings of fish, including canned tuna, per week is perfect to get enough omega-3 fatty acids. Infants, young children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers should limit or completely avoid the intake of tuna.


Images by Freepik.


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