Tuna Nutrition Facts

Calories in Tuna and Its Health Benefits

Tuna nutrition facts
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If you don't eat a lot of fish in your diet, it might be time to start. Tuna, in particular, is low in calories and high in nutrition. Tuna is a low carb, high protein food. Tuna is considered a "fatty" fish but it does not provide saturated fat unless you cook it in oil or butter. Even better, tuna is a source of healthy polyunsaturated fat, specifically omega-3 fatty acids. Because there are different varieties of tuna and many different ways to prepare the fatty fish, it's easy to include the healthy food in your weekly meal plan.

Tuna Nutrition Facts

Canned Tuna Nutrition Facts
Serving Size 6.5 oz. can, water packed
Per Serving% Daily Value*
Calories 144 
Calories from Fat 18 
Total Fat 2g 
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g 
Monounsaturated Fat 0g 
Cholesterol 60mg20%
Sodium 412mg18%
Potassium 299mg16%
Carbohydrates 0g0%
Dietary Fiber 0g0%
Sugars 0g 
Protein 32g 
Vitamin A 4% · Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 3% · Iron 15%
*Based on a 2,000 calorie diet

The nutrition in your tuna meal will depend on what kind of tuna you buy and how you prepare the fish. Tuna steaks that you buy from the meat and seafood section of the grocery store provide different nutrition than the packaged or canned tuna that you find in the aisles.

  • A typical tuna steak is usually much larger than a single serving (3 ounces or 100 grams). A medium tuna steak cooked without fat (measuring approximately 6.75 x 2.5 inches) provides 195 calories, 42 grams of protein, 1 grams of carbohydrate, 2 grams of fat and 525 milligrams of sodium.
  • A medium tuna steak cooked with butter or oil provides 236 calories, 41 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbohydrate, 7 grams of fat and 511 milligrams of sodium.
  • A 3-ounce serving of canned tuna packed in water provides 73 calories, 17 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate, 1 gram of fat and 210 milligrams of sodium. 
  • A 3-ounce serving of canned tuna packed in oil provides 169 calories, 25 grams of protein, 0 grams of carbohydrate, 7 gram of fat, 1 gram of saturated fat, and 354 milligrams of sodium. 

Health Benefits of Tuna 

The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna promote good heart health. According to the American Heart Association, these fatty acids can help decrease triglyceride levels, decrease the risk of dangerous arrhythmias, slow the production of atherosclerotic plaque and slightly lower blood pressure.

Because omega-3 fatty acids provide so many benefits, and because fish is a very good source of the fatty acid, the AHA recommends that you consume fish (particularly fatty fish) at least two times a week. 

Tuna provides omega-3 fatty acids in different amounts:

  • Bluefin tuna provides 1,000 to 1,500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving
  • White albacore (canned) tuna provides 500 to 1,000 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving
  • Light tuna (canned) provides 200 to 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving
  • Skipjack wild tuna provides 200 to 500 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving
  • Wild Yellowfin tuna provides 200 milligrams or less of omega-3 fatty acids per three-ounce serving

    To make your meal even healthier, choose a light preparation method for your fish. Tuna can be grilled, baked or seared with very little added fat. It also makes a great addition to a nutritious salad.

    Tuna Salad Nutrition

    Now that you know the benefits of tuna, you're probably feeling great about your tuna salad sandwich. Unfortunately, however, not all tuna salads are healthy. Some provide unhealthy (saturated) fat and can be very high in calories.

    • One cup of tuna salad made with mayonnaise provides 404 calories, 22 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbohydrate, 5 grams of sugar, 33 grams of fat, 3 grams of saturated fat and 892 milligrams of sodium.
    • If you put your tuna salad on two slices of bread, add 150 calories, 26 grams of carbohydrate and another 230 milligrams of sodium.

    So should you skip the tuna salad and eat a leaner sandwich instead? Not necessarily. According to USDA data, the salad also provides 29 milligrams of omega 3 EPA and 212 milligrams of omega-3 DHA. So keep it on your menu but use lower calorie ingredients.

    Try using low-fat Greek yogurt or plain nonfat yogurt instead of mayonnaise and add plenty of crunchy vegetables for flavor. You can also use avocado or olive oil instead of mayonnaise.

    Choosing and Storing Tuna

    Fish experts suggest that you buy the freshest tuna available. Ask your fish monger what kind of fresh tuna is available. Ideally, the tuna is kept in one piece (the full loin) and cut according to your specifications so that it stays fresh.

    You can also ask the following questions.

    • When was it caught? The fresher the better. Fish may remain edible for five days after it is caught, but it may not taste as fresh. 
    • How was it stored? The way that the tuna is stored and delivered to the market will have an impact on the taste. It should be chilled immediately after catching and kept cold through delivery and to the market.
    • How does it look? How does it smell? If the fish has a bad odor, it is probably not fresh. Look for a moist texture with clean cut edges. Tuna color should range from pink to a deep red depending on the variety that you buy.  There should be no browning near the edges (if it was pre-sliced into tuna steaks) and no apparent gapping or flaking in the meat.

    Refrigerate your tuna as soon as you get it home. Keep it in the coldest part of the refrigerator and use your fresh fish within one to two days. Tuna can be frozen. When you are ready to use it, thaw your tuna steak in the refrigerator—never at room temperature.

    Healthy Ways to Prepare Tuna 

    There are countless ways to include tuna in your meals for a boost of heart-healthy nutrition. Top your green salad with tuna or wrap tuna and vegetables in a whole wheat tortilla for a delicious wrap.  Many smart cooks also enjoy a half tuna steak for dinner and then throw the other half on a bed of greens or brown rice for a meal the following day.

    Sources:

    American Heart Association. Fish and Omega-3 fatty acids. Web. 2016.

    Dairy Council of California. Health benefits of tuna and salmon. Web. 2015.

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