7 Top Benefits Of Tuna You Must Know

Written by Aparna Mallampalli , BEd (Biological Sciences), MSc (Microbiology), Diploma In Nutrition

Tuna is one of the most consumed fish across the world and is highly beneficial for health. This delicious fish boasts many essential vitamins, minerals, and organic compounds. Consuming tuna is said to reduce the risk of heart disease and vision loss, boost immunity, and promote weight loss in obese individuals. It can also be an amazing substitute for processed or red meats besides adding variety to your diet.

This article explores the nutritional profile of tuna fish, its health benefits, potential risks, and healthy and mouth-watering recipes you can try. Keep reading.

What Is Tuna Fish?

Tuna is a saltwater fish from the Scombridae family (also known as the mackerel family). It belongs to the Thunnini tribe, which consists of 15 tuna varieties. They regularly migrate between the oceans, and the smaller fish are considered more sustainable. However, some species are endangered.

Tunas are robust and streamlined fish with a cylindrical body and a leg-like tail base. Their bodies taper towards the tail base that is forked or crescent-shaped. They are generally dark silver but often give an iridescent shine (its color looks slightly different from different angles). Fresh tunas have a sweet and salty flavor.

In the next section, we look at the nutrients that make tuna a highly beneficial food.

Nutritional Profile Of Tuna Fish

100 grams of tuna fish contain the following nutrients (1):

Protein24.4g
Potassium441mg
Selenium90.6 µg
Vitamin D1.7µg
Fat0.49 g
Carbohydrates0 g

Tuna is loaded with antioxidants and essential nutrients. But how does it help your health? Let us explore the health benefits of tuna fish in the following section.

Health Benefits Of Tuna Fish

1. May Lower The Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease

Consuming fish is associated with a reduced risk of heart disease. Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids that may help widen arteries and delay plaque formation in them (2),(3). Besides, a high intake of these essential fatty acids may also help reduce triglyceride levels and lower blood pressure (4). Tuna is also high in niacin and vitamin B complexes, which may support heart health (5),(6). The potassium-rich tuna also lowers the risk of cardiovascular disease (7).

Anthony Puopolo, a physician, says, “Tuna is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help lower cholesterol and improve general heart health. It is a great food to introduce into your diet. However, ensure tuna is fully cooked or cured before eating.”

2. May Improve Vision

The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna may help slow down vision loss caused by age-related macular degeneration (AMD). These fatty acids may also reverse the signs of dry eye syndrome (8). Besides, studies suggest that dietary intake of omega-3 fatty acids may be essential for optimal visual development. Their intake was also found to prevent retinal damage in rats. Moreover, administering DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, before ischemia (reduced blood flow) helped reduce pressure-induced retinal damage in monkeys (9). However, more studies are warranted to understand these benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

3. May Aid In Weight Loss

Protein-rich tuna improves satiety and keeps you fuller for longer durations (10). Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), an omega-3 fatty acid, was found to stimulate the production of leptin (an internal hunger hormone), which helps reduce hunger and boost energy levels. However, this phenomenon was only observed in obese individuals. These increased leptin levels may help avoid weight gain after losing weight through calorie restriction (11 ).

4. May Lower Blood Pressure

Tuna contains potassium, which may help lower blood pressure. This mineral counters the negative effects of a high sodium intake (12). A study found that dietary intake of potassium had lowered blood pressure significantly in both hypertensive and non-hypertensive patients. Potassium was also found to reduce the risk of myocardial infarction (7).

5. May Promote Bone Health

Tuna is an excellent source of vitamin D, which helps our body absorb calcium effectively. Vitamin D deficiency is linked with bone loss, which may eventually lead to osteoporosis (brittle bones), fractures, osteomalacia (softening of bones), and muscle weakness. A study suggests that supplementing vitamin D may decrease bone turnover (resorption) and increase bone mineral density (13). Besides, tuna also contains a significant amount of magnesium and phosphorus that improve bone health (14).

6. May Improve Immunity

Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and a potent immune-boosting nutrient present in tuna. Its deficiency may negatively impact immune cells by impairing several of their functions besides increasing oxidative stress. The selenoproteins in dietary selenium help initiate immunity. Besides, supplementing selenium may also help regulate excess immune responses and manage chronic inflammatory disorders (15).

7. May Promote Skin Health

The selenium and antioxidants in tuna may help reduce free radical damage and delay premature aging signs like wrinkles. Moreover, tuna is a good source of unsaturated fats that make the skin glossy and elastic. Tuna heart extract was also found to boost collagen production and slow down premature aging (16).

You may add tuna to your diet to benefit from its potential. But how do you do that? Let us find out in the next section.

How To Add Tuna Fish To Your Diet

The taste of tuna fish makes it ideal for savory dishes like steaks, mayonnaise spreads on crackers or bread, salads, and sandwiches. Some of the other ways to include tuna in your diet include:

  • Preparing a Mediterranean salad with tuna
  • Baking tuna or topping slices of bread with tuna, cheese, and some olive oil
  • Replacing beef with tuna to make burgers

Note: The FDA recommends eating two to three tuna meals a week to achieve desired results. You can consume at least three meals of light tuna a week. However, white tuna intake should be limited to one or two meals a week (and no other fish that week) as it contains more mercury (17).

We will now look at some of the popular tuna fish recipes you can try at home. Keep reading.

Popular Recipes Using Tuna Fish

1. Tuna Pasta Salad

What You Need

  • Brown rice macaroni pasta – 1 cup (cooked)
  • Canned wild-caught tuna – 250g
  • ½ red onion (chopped)
  • Kalamata olives – ½ cup(pitted)
  • Bell peppers – ½ cup (chopped)
  • Capers – 2 tablespoons
  • Cherry tomatoes – 1 cup (sliced)
  • Paleo mayo – ⅓ cup
  • Dijon mustard – ⅓ cup
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Pepper – ½ teaspoon
  • Green onions – ½ cup (chopped – for topping)
  • Microgreens – ¼ cup (for topping)

Method

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until they are well combined.
  2. Refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  3. Top with chopped green onions and microgreens.

2. Tuna Salad

What You Need

  • Canned tuna – 25g (drained and flaked)
  • Lettuce – 100g
  • Cherry tomatoes – 50g
  • Boiled sweet corn kernels – 50g
  • Coconut oil – ¼ cup
  • Mayonnaise – 5 tablespoons
  • Celery – 5 teaspoons (finely chopped)
  • Minced onion – 2 tablespoons
  • Dijon mustard – 1 tablespoon
  • unsweetened dried cranberries – 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • Fresh lemon juice – 3 tablespoons
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Pepper – ¼ teaspoon

Method

  1. Add tuna, lettuce, cherry tomatoes, sweet corn kernels, celery, onion, mustard, coconut oil, mayonnaise, and cranberries in a bowl.
  2. Drizzle with lemon juice, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Mix gently and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving.

3. Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

What You Need

  • Fresh tomatoes – 4 medium-sized
  • Premium white tuna – 2 pouches
  • Shredded mozzarella – ½ cup
  • Mayonnaise – ¼ cup
  • Dijon mustard – 1 tablespoon
  • Garlic powder – ½tablespoon
  • Onion powder – ½tablespoon
  • Green or red onion – 1 diced
  • Salt – ½ teaspoon
  • Pepper – ¼ teaspoon
  • Olive oil – 4 teaspoons

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425oF.
  2. Scrape the seeds and flesh of the tomatoes gently using a spoon. Place them on a paper towel.
  3. Combine the tuna with mayonnaise, mustard, and seasonings in a large bowl.
  4. Scoop the tuna mixture into the tomatoes and place them in a dish lined with a baking sheet.
  5. Top with shredded cheese, drizzle with olive oil, and roast for 15 minutes.

You need to follow some precautions while consuming tuna fish to avoid adverse effects. Here are a few safety measures to consider.

Safety Precautions To Be Considered Before Eating Tuna Fish

Fish, especially tuna, may contain heavy metals that damage heart health (18), (19). Their toxicity outweighs any potential health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna, though very nutritious, is very high in mercury. Hence, consume it in moderation.

Skipjack and light canned tuna, along with other fish low in mercury, can be eaten 2 to 3 times a week. However, albacore, yellowfin, and bigeye tuna should be consumed minimally (17). Canned tuna contains sodium, so people, especially those with diabetes and cardiac problems, should take it in moderation (20 ). Moreover, pregnant women should consult their doctor before eating tuna due to its mercury content.

Despite the wide range of health benefits tuna fish offers, there are certain downsides to consider as well. Keep reading to know what they are.

Side Effects Of Tuna Fish

  • Mercury Poisoning

Most fish, including tuna, contain mercury. Over-exposure to mercury may cause memory loss, numbness, shaking, or double vision (21), (22). Hence, caution is advised.

  • Bloating

Anecdotal evidence suggests that some people may experience bloating after tuna intake. At times, it may also be coupled with gastrointestinal discomfort and stomach cramps.

  • Allergy

Finned fish like tuna may cause reactions such as nausea, vomiting, stomach ache, diarrhea, hives, and itching in the mouth (23). Consult your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.

The Takeaway

Saltwater tuna is healthy, delicious, and inexpensive. It is low in calories and high in protein, niacin, selenium, and vitamin B12. Consuming this nutrient-rich fish may help reduce the risk of heart disease, improve vision, lower blood pressure, strengthen bones, and promote skin health and immunity. Besides, tuna may also help with weight loss. However, most fish contain high levels of mercury and other heavy metals. Hence, consume tuna variants that are comparatively low in mercury. Consult your doctor immediately if you experience any side effects after tuna intake.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you eat tuna raw?

Consuming raw tuna can cause human illnesses due to the parasites present on it. Cooking helps kill these parasites.

Is tuna healthier than salmon?

Both tuna and salmon are beneficial for health. However, tuna can be a better option as it has fewer calories and higher protein content than salmon.

Is tuna healthier than chicken?

Tuna may be a healthier alternative to chicken due to its low saturated fatty acid and high protein content. It also has fewer calories than chicken.

Sources

Articles on StyleCraze are backed by verified information from peer-reviewed and academic research papers, reputed organizations, research institutions, and medical associations to ensure accuracy and relevance. Read our editorial policy to learn more.

  1. Fish tuna fresh yellowfin raw
    https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/food-details/175159/nutrients
  2. Omega-3 Supplements and Cardiovascular Diseases
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4153275/
  3. Impact of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on vascular function and blood pressure: Relevance for cardiovascular outcomes
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27692558/
  4. Omega-3 fatty acids and cardiovascular disease
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25720716/
  5. Vitamin B complex mitigates cardiac dysfunction in high-methionine diet-induced hyperhomocysteinemia
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29509296/
  6. Niacin Promotes Cardiac Healing after Myocardial Infarction through Activation of the Myeloid Prostaglandin D2 Receptor Subtype
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  7. The importance of potassium in managing hypertension
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  8. Omega 3 fatty acids and the eye
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  9. Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acids on Eye Health: Summary
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  10. Optimising foods for satiety
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  11. Omega-3 fatty acids: a review of the effects on adiponectin and leptin and potential implications for obesity management
    https://www.nature.com/articles/ejcn2013197.pdf?origin=ppub
  12. Should we eat more potassium to better control blood pressure in hypertension?
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29301002/
  13. The effect of vitamin D on bone and osteoporosis
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21872800/
  14. Monitoring bone changes due to calcium magnesium and phosphorus loss in rat femurs using Quantitative Ultrasound
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC6086864/
  15. The Role of Selenium in Inflammation and Immunity: From Molecular Mechanisms to Therapeutic Opportunities
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC3277928/
  16. Anti-wrinkle effects of a tuna heart H2O fraction on Hs27 human fibroblasts
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/labs/pmc/articles/PMC4687440/
  17. Questions & Answers from the FDA/EPA Advice about Eating Fish for Those Who Might Become or Are Pregnant or Breastfeeding and Children Ages 1 to 11 Years
    https://www.fda.gov/food/consumers/questions-answers-fdaepa-advice-about-eating-fish-those-who-might-become-or-are-pregnant-or
  18. Lead cadmium and mercury in canned and unprocessed tuna: six-years monitoring survey comparison with previous studies and recommended tolerable limits
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  19. Determination of selected heavy metals in tuna fish (Thunnusthynnus)
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