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Tuna Benefits

Eating tuna provides a range of health benefits. It's an excellent source of protein, and rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and B vitamins. Regular consumption of tuna can support heart health, improve brain function, and contribute to overall well-being.

Americans love tuna because it’s delicious and healthy. In fact, nearly half of American households enjoy canned tuna every month and almost a quarter of households consume it at least once a week. 

This is partly because it’s so versatile and delicious in sandwiches, salads, or classic recipes like tuna noodle casserole and tuna salad. Tuna is also so popular because of its health benefits. A single can of tuna in water provides up to 29 grams of protein along with essential vitamins like B12 and iron. And all this with typically only 1 gram of fat and 130 calories.

Let’s dive in to the health benefits of tuna one by one:


Protein is essential for various bodily functions, with amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, contributing to the development of bone, cartilage, skin, and muscles. Maintaining an adequate protein intake is crucial for your overall health. Lean proteins like tuna offer longer-lasting satiety than carbohydrates and fats, making them beneficial for weight loss diets. As stated above, a single can of tuna in water can provide 29 grams of high-quality protein. And what’s even better is that it’s a complete protein, containing all nine amino acids that your body cannot produce on its own.


Omega-3s fatty acids are said to reduce inflammation, lower blood triglycerides, and lower risk of heart disease. Tuna fish is lower in fat compared to other animal proteins like chicken and beef, but it’s an excellent source of omega-3. Including fish such as canned tuna in your diet provides an easy and enjoyable way to benefit from omega-3s. Each serving of canned tuna contains around 0.2 grams of omega-3s, contributing to about 15-20% of the recommended intake for adults according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).


Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, which is necessary for building and repairing bones. Tuna stands out as one of the rare natural dietary sources of vitamin D, crucial for bone health, immune function, and overall well-being. A 5-ounce can of tuna can provide up to 15% of the Daily Value for vitamin D.


Vitamin B-12 is essential for vital functions like red blood cell and DNA production. Tuna is rich in vitamin B-12. A single can of tuna can meet the recommended daily amount for adults, providing slightly more than 2 micrograms of vitamin B-12. 


Tuna contains these three minerals which are vital for various physiological functions. Selenium is an essential mineral that acts as a powerful antioxidant, supporting immune function, thyroid health, and protecting against oxidative stress and inflammation. Iron is essential for the production of hemoglobin, which helps carry oxygen in the blood, supporting energy levels and overall health. Potassium supports healthy blood pressure levels and kidney function, and it helps maintain proper muscle and nerve function. 

Now that we’ve described the health benefits of tuna, let’s review the main types of tuna, some concerns you may have, and then compare tuna in oil, tuna in water, and fresh tuna in detail.


Most canned or pouched tuna is sourced from three types of tuna–skipjack, yellowfin, or albacore tuna,–with light or chunk light tuna typically being a mix of skipjack and yellowfin, and sometimes including tongol or bigeye tuna. Albacore, known for its light-colored flesh, firm texture, and mild flavor, is categorized as white tuna, including solid white albacore and chunk white. Some people prefer albacore over light tuna for dishes that require a milder flavor and a firmer, more steak-like fish. According to the National Fisheries Institute, approximately 70% of canned and pouched tuna consumed in the United States is skipjack tuna (or a small amount of yellowfin), while about 30% is albacore.


Mercury content is sometimes raised as an issue to be aware of. It’s true that certain fish, such as swordfish, tuna, and tilefish, can contain mercury, but according to the FDA, this poses minimal risk to most people. The FDA advises children aged 1-11 years old and pregnant or breastfeeding women to limit their tuna intake to no more than one serving (4 ounces) per week. However, the vast majority of health experts would agree that the real health concern regarding fish is that Americans don’t eat enough of it.

Sodium (salt) is another concern some people raise. Tuna has a naturally low sodium content, but additional salt is often included during the canning process. A 5-ounce can typically has about 280mg of sodium which is 12% of the recommended daily intake. If you’re watching your sodium intake, check the label carefully and consider low-sodium or sodium-free options. 


The table below compares the three main ways tuna is sold. As you can see, all three have excellent nutritional profiles and contain similar amounts of protein, vitamins, and minerals. 

(1 oz Portion) Canned Tuna in Oil (Low Sodium) Canned Tuna in Water (Low Sodium) Fresh Raw Tuna (Boneless)
Protein 8 grams 6 grams 7 grams
Omega-3s DHA: 29 mg
EPA: 8 mg
DHA: 56 mg
EPA: 8 mg
DHA: 25 mg
EPA: 3 mg
Vitamin B-12 0.6 µg 0.7 µg 0.6 µg
Vitamin D 1.9 µg 0.3 µg 0.5 µg
Iron 0.4 mg 0.5 mg 0.2 mg
Selenium 21.5 µg 19 µg 26 µg
Phosphorus 88 mg 39 mg 79 mg
Potassium 59 mg 50 mg 125 mg
Total Fat 2.3 grams 0.9 grams 0.14 grams
Saturated Fat 0.4 grams 0.2 grams 0.05 grams
Cholesterol 5 mg 10 mg 11 mg
Sodium 118 mg 70 mg 13 mg
Calories 56 24 31

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the benefits of eating tuna?

Eating tuna provides a . It’s an excellent source of protein, rich in essential nutrients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and B vitamins. Regular consumption of tuna can support heart health, improve brain function, and contribute to overall well-being.

Is it healthy to eat tuna every day?

Tuna is nutritious, but as with any food, it’s advisable to have a varied diet. While tuna has very low mercury levels, eating it every day may lead to excessive mercury intake, especially with certain species like albacore tuna. Mercury can be harmful in large amounts, particularly for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and young children.

Is tuna a superfood?

Tuna is often considered a superfood due to its high protein content, abundance of omega-3 fatty acids, and various essential nutrients like vitamin D, B vitamins, and selenium. These nutrients contribute to heart health, brain function, and overall well-being, making tuna a valuable addition to a balanced diet.


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