Canned Fish Nutrition and Safety Concerns

fish canFish is not only a miraculous food with many positive health benefits, it is also delicious to eat. This is why more and more people are having fish for dinner more frequently than ever. In addition to providing health benefits and satisfying the palate, people having a fast-paced lifestyle look for ways to have fish in an instant. This is why canned fish is becoming more popular these days.

The miracle food

Fish is rich in protein, which is perfect for tissue building. Unlike fatty meat products, fish also has low saturated fat. In fact, it is recommended by the American Health Association (AHA) to eat fish at least two times every week. Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, sardines, and trout are rich in omega-3. This fatty acid makes your heart healthier, reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Health buffs eat fresh or frozen tuna and salmon to obtain omega-3s. But in this world where everything runs fast and where the price of basic commodities are exponentially increasing week after, canned fish is an easy and practical alternative. What is great is that canned fish also has the same positive health benefits.


Canned tuna can be packed in water, oil, canola oil, olive oil, or broth. You must read the labels clearly to know whether the food comes with any ingredients like broth or salt, and which cut and type of fish is inside.

Depending on the variety of tuna and the manner of packing, some offer higher amounts of omega-3 than others. For example, albacore (often called "white meat tuna) contains the most of these fatty acids. One serving (4 ounces) of tuna packed in water has 1.06 grams, whereas the same serving of this type of tuna packed in oil contain 0.5 gram.


Canned salmon is also rich in omega-3. One serving (4 ounces) of canned salmon has around 2.2 grams of it. Unlike tuna varieties, salmon varieties don’t differ in omega-3 levels. So let texture and flavor guide you in your choices. Basically, there are 3 major kinds of canned salmon: sockeye, pink, and king (also known as chinook).

Sockeye salmon has brighter flavor and color. The pink variety has the lighter color and milder flavor. King salmon is a premium variety preferred for its supreme flavor and succulent texture. Another alternative is hot-smoked salmon. Cold-smoked salmon is thinly sliced and is usually eaten in salads, on bagels, and is used for appetizers.

Safety concerns

There have been safety issues lately about canned tuna and salmon. While well-known as a convenient source of protein, canned tuna is also known for mercury contamination. Mercury has been found to damage the brain of an unborn and young child.

In addition, accumulated mercury can affect adults’ reproductive and immune systems and can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. Pregnant women or lactating mothers as well as young children are encouraged to eat only 12-ounce light tuna or 6-ounce albacore every week.

Salmon has been associated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organic compounds that cause cancer. But both farm-raised and wild salmon have PCB levels that are well below the advisory level of the government.

Researchers from Purdue University who tested more than 270 canned fish found that tuna have much higher mercury levels compared to salmon: canned tuna has mercury levels of 340 pbb (parts per billion) , whereas canned salmon only has 45 ppb. If you’re a tuna person, go for chunk light tuna packed in water, which has an average mercury level of only 54 ppb.

Despite safety concerns, many health experts believe that the risks of eating canned fish is outweighed by the health benefits.


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