- Tuna is a lean source of protein that provides essential vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy.
- You can buy fresh tuna fish and enjoy it baked or on the grill, or you can opt for canned tuna, a budget-friendly, very nutritious option.
- Most varieties of tuna are great options to include in your weight management meal plan.
Fish is a great option for people who are prioritizing weight management goals because it is a very lean source of protein that can be prepared in many different ways. You can eat fish off the grill, baked in the oven, or sometimes raw such as sushi.
All varieties of fish offer protein, vitamins, and minerals which are essential for keeping you healthy. Tuna is a popular fish option to eat because it is readily available as a fresh filet or canned in water, oil, or broth.
Keep reading to learn more about the nutritional benefits of this lean fish and how tuna can help you meet your nutrition goals.
Working with a registered dietitian is a great way to understand your body and manage your weight. They can provide meal and grocery guidance and make long-lasting changes for your health (and it's covered by insurance). Find a dietitian.
What is Tuna?
There are approximately twelve different species of tuna fish, and they all range in size and body composition. Some species are native to cold waters in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans and will have higher omega-3 fat stores than others who prefer warm tropical waters.
Most people have seen or eaten tuna from a can, but you can also buy it fresh. Popular ways to eat fresh tuna include:
- Seared tuna steaks.
- Poke bowls.
- Tuna tartare.
The FDA recommends choosing light canned tuna (including Skipjack) most often. Albacore and Yellowfin tuna are acceptable in moderation, which is defined as one serving per week. But tropical species, such as the Bigeye Tuna, have the highest mercury levels and should be avoided.
Is Tuna Good for Weight Loss?
No current research directly links tuna with weight loss, but tuna's nutritional properties make it a great addition to your diet.
- It offers protein which helps you feel full at meals.
- It has lower energy density (calories) which can align with weight management goals.
- It is rich in essential vitamins such as Vitamin D and B12, which keep you healthy.
How Much Should You Eat?
The USDA states that one ounce of tuna (and all fish) is one serving of protein. The USDA recommends following the MyPlate model to help you build a balanced meal. You can do this by serving yourself a protein that covers a quarter of your plate and balancing out the dish by including half a plate of your favorite vegetables and a quarter plate with starchy items and carbohydrates.
Learning how to build balanced meals can help you feel confident that you are getting enough energy and nutrition to help you feel your best. If you think you would benefit from expert nutrition guidance, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian through Nourish.
Nutritional Value of Tuna
The nutrients in tuna can vary depending on how it is prepared. Here are the nutritional facts for a 1oz serving of tuna (approximately 28g) prepared in three common methods:
- Calories: 31kcal
- Protein: 6.9g
- Fat: 0.1g
- Omega-3 Fatty acids (DHA/EPA): 2.8mg
- Vitamin B12: 0.59 µg
Canned Tuna - Packed in Water
- Calories: 26kcal
- Protein: 5.4g
- Fat: 0.2g
- Omega-3 Fatty acids (DHA/EPA): 6.3mg
- Vitamin B12: 0.73 µg
Canned Tuna - Packed in Oil
- Calories: 56kcal
- Protein: 8.3g
- Fat: 2.3g
- Omega-3 Fatty acids (DHA/EPA): 3.7mg
- Vitamin B12: 0.62 µg
A few minor differences exist between the tuna options listed above, such as the higher omega-3 levels present in canned tuna in water. Overall, the nutritional information is fairly similar across products. This is great news because you can pick your favorite way of eating tuna without compromising on nutrition.
When it comes to tuna, you should pick an option that aligns best with your flavor preferences, cooking skills, and budget. Choose an option that fits best with the recipes you plan to make throughout the week. Canned fish tends to be more affordable than fresh fish and has a longer shelf life, which may appeal to some people.
Drawbacks of Eating Tuna
All predatory fish, including all species of tuna fish, are at risk of containing heavy metals such as mercury. Their diet includes eating large amounts of smaller fish with trace levels of mercury. The tuna absorbs heavy metals, which can accumulate across its lifetime to dangerous levels, which could pass on to humans when they eat tuna.
The Food and Drug Administration keeps a current list of the mercury levels in fish. Different species of tuna have varying levels of heavy metals. Light canned tuna tends to have the lowest levels of mercury, while Bigeye tuna has the most. Due to the elevated mercury levels, the FDA recommends avoiding Bigeye tuna.
Other Fish Alternatives for Weight Loss
Eating only one type of fish may grow monotonous; fortunately, there are many other types of consumable fish available.
The top five most popular fish consumed in the US include shrimp, salmon, canned tuna, catfish, and tilapia. Here are some nutritional highlights of the most popular fish (excluding tuna.)
- Shrimp contain omega-3 fatty acids, polyunsaturated fats, and protein. They have a very mild flavor and are versatile regarding seasonings and cooking methods. In the summer, shrimp taste fantastic off the grill, but you can cook them in a pan if that’s what you have at home.
- Salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which may offer heart-protective benefits, decrease inflammation, and reduce the risk of certain cancers. Other omega-3-rich fish include Trout, Mackerel, and Herring. Pair your Salmon with a whole grain bun filled with tomato slices, lettuce, and onion (with a squirt of mayo) to create a grilled salmon sandwich.
- Catfish are rich in vitamin B12, have some omega-3 fatty acids, and are a lean source of protein. Compared to other fish, catfish have a slightly sweet flavor and pair well with a high-fiber side, such as an oil-based coleslaw. Add a carbohydrate to balance the dish: quinoa, whole grain rice, or baked potato slices.
- Tilapia have vitamin B12, protein, and an essential mineral called selenium. This fish is very lean, so when cooking it, add olive oil or other plant-based fat to prevent the fish from drying out. Including small amounts of fat in your meals is important to help your body absorb vitamins and make you feel full and satisfied after eating. Satiating your hunger is vital to help you stay on track with your weight management goals.
Eating more fish can benefit your health and help bring you closer to your nutrition goals because they are a lean source of protein. If you want to learn more about other types of meals that could help with weight management, consider booking a virtual appointment with a registered dietitian.
Tuna has protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 fatty acids and is versatile in cooking. You can add tuna to your diet by including it in a salad, a sandwich with whole grain bread, or adding it to your favorite stir fry recipe.
You should consult the FDA mercury list online if fish is a staple in your diet. The rankings of fish can change annually, so checking in can help you make the best choices when buying tuna and other seafood.
Remember that your weight management goals should include all your favorite foods. Through the guidance of a dietitian, you can build a nourishing relationship with food that helps you meet your health and nutrition goals.
Weight Management with an RD
Unfortunately, many fad diets promise overnight weight loss results, but they just don’t work, and many of them can be dangerous. Working with a registered dietitian specializing in weight management can help you find a healthy, sustainable approach to eating to safely achieve your goals.
Working with a weight loss nutritionist is a great way to understand your body and manage your weight. They can provide meal and grocery guidance and make long-lasting changes for your health. Get started and find a dietitian.
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