Canned tuna is an excellent source of omega 3 fatty acids and protein. The health craze of recent years have opened people’s eyes to the wonderful health benefits of canned tuna but on the flip side most people don’t realize the dangers of eating tuna that is unregulated. A fair number of the tuna brands that you see in the supermarket have a number of unhealthy ingredients added to them for an array of reasons.
This is why the first thing that you should start with is to read the labels so that you’re aware of what you’re consuming. If nutrition is your no.1 priority then purchase canned tuna that just has tuna and water but without the salt. If you do want one with salt then it should be with sea salt.
Almost all brands sell canned tuna that is packaged in oil but these are not recommended for an array of reasons. The biggest reason why oil packed tuna is not recommended is because it’s blatantly counterproductive, the oil mixes in with the natural oil of the fish (Omega 3), and when you drain the oil you’re also draining away the beneficial omega 3. This defeats the whole purpose of eating tuna.
Avoid foreign canned tuna brands
The best tuna brands are ones that are either based in the USA or in Australia and New Zealand. This is primarily because these brands in most cases will be strictly regulated and their labels will be monitored. There are a number of foreign brands that are a few dollars cheaper but you never can trust if what’s on the label is really in the can. Also, if you do suffer from personal harm as a result of eating stale or contaminated tuna you’ll know who to sue if you buy a local brand.
Avoid brands selling large tuna
If you want to avoid tuna that has a high mercury content then the rule of thumb here is to avoid large types of tuna like Bluefin, yellowfin, albacore and bluefish. All these types have a higher mercury content as compared to smaller types since they are able to accumulate more contamination within their bodies.
The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) says that out of all the species of canned tuna that is farmed and fished skipjack by Safcol has the lowest amount of mercury i.e. around 1/3 of what is found in large types. So if you want to play it safe then buy tuna brands that sell skip jack tuna.
Familiarize yourself with fishing methods
There are numerous tuna brands that use very bad fishing methods. These methods do not necessarily affect the quality of the tuna they sell but do affect the environment as a whole. For instance long line fishing consists of hanging out a line which is several kilometers long, lined with bait and hooks. These lines in addition to helping companies catch tuna also end up endangering other sea animals like turtles, whales and dolphins.
The best method is the pole and troll and is a method suggested by almost all environmental agencies both in Australia and abroad. If you look at the tuna can’s label and it does not specify how the fish was caught then it’s only fair to assume that these were caught using seine nets. If you’re environmentally conscious then avoid this type of tuna in order to discourage fishermen from using this method.
Search for leading tuna brands on the internet
If you are not sure which are the best brands in your country simply do an online search. Do some research about these brands and the methods they use to catch tuna fish. Also find out what environmental agencies are saying about them, prior to heading down to the supermarket to buy tuna.
Over the past few years the number of retailers adding ocean friendly tuna brands to their shelves has more than tippled this has led many suppliers to start adopting ocean friendly methods. This is why it’s a lot easier today to find low mercury tuna that is sustainably caught than it ever was before. All you need to do is to read the label to understand what you’re eating.
Mark is an environmental expert with over two decades of experience in the culinary industry. He specializes in seafood and health foods. His various publications including blog posts are mainly written to help people find good tuna brands and eat healthy on a budget. This has led him to also work on an upcoming book on the subject.