how to choose the healthiest tuna / www.momskitchenhandbook.com
While tuna was a lunch box staple in my house growing up, eating it these days feels like tiptoeing through an environmental and health minefield. Many varieties are considered a big “no no” according to the folks at Seafood Watch because of overfishing and the methods used to haul in the goods. Perhaps more pressing for moms, though, are the often harmful levels of mercury in tuna. Mercury is an environmental contaminant that can lead to all sorts of health trouble you don’t even want to know about. All that being said, tuna happens to be an inexpensive source of protein that is rich in those coveted omega-3 fats. Plus, a good tuna sandwich is hard to beat.

Here are a few guidelines to help you find you way amongst the myriad choices in the seafood aisle.

• Opt for chunk light tuna over other varieties. It has the lowest levels of mercury, as much as six times less than albacore. Be sure not to confuse chunk light with chunk white, the latter being much higher in mercury.

• Limit albacore and white tuna. The Environmental Working Group advises women of childbearing age and children under five to avoid it altogether. Depending on age and gender, the mercury levels in even a single serving can exceed EPA recommendations. If you are pregnant, confer with your doctor regarding tuna safety.

• Look for pole caught albacore tuna, available in organic and specialty markets. These are smaller fish with significantly less toxic build up than conventional albacore. It’s a little pricier, but if you like the taste of albacore, is a better option than the standard variety.

• Consider using wild sockeye salmon in place of tuna. It has plenty of protein and omega-3s, without the same concerns about mercury.

• Use the Environmental Working Group’s Tuna Calculator to determine what is a safe intake for you and your family or check out this guide put out by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Sources: Consumer Reports, Natural Resources Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Center for Science in the Public Interest

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  1. charlotte
    07.26.2011 at 8:20 AM #

    Katie, this is perfect timing to get this post as I was just thinking that I may experiment and try a tuna fish sandwich for my two year old. Do you have a good, simple recipe for tuna salad? Thanks!

    • katiemorford
      07.26.2011 at 2:23 PM #

      I like to use diced celery (very teeny for little mouths), diced red onion, capers or chopped olives, and mayo. I sometimes use a little plain yogurt in place of some of the mayo to cut down on the fat and also add in a squeeze of lemon juice. Tuna is especially good on toast or on soft whole wheat bread.

  2. 07.26.2011 at 10:49 AM #

    I really appreciate this post as I too was an avid tuna eater until I had my son. I’ve just made the decision to not eat tuna anymore (though I love a good tuna fish sandwich). I love that you recommended wild sockeye salmon.I buy it canned and make salmon patties which are a staple in my house.

    • katiemorford
      07.26.2011 at 2:21 PM #

      I love the idea of using salmon to make patties…similar to a crab cake, only much richer in omega-3s. Thanks for that.

  3. 07.31.2011 at 8:29 PM #

    Very nice site! is it yours too

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