How to Buy Canned Tuna

What to look for on labels to buy the healthiest tuna.

A great meal can start with something as simple as a can opener and a can of light tuna. Light tuna comes primarily from skipjack, a much smaller predatory fish than its cousin albacore or "white" tuna, which is also commonly found in cans. Light tuna provides a healthy dose of vitamin D along with heart-healthy omega-3s. Though it has fewer omega-3s than white tuna does, we go for light tuna because it also has less mercury. Any way you serve it, light tuna is a great catch.

Mercury in Tuna

Canned tuna, like all fish and shellfish, contains some mercury. Mercury comes from industrial pollution, which runs off into water, and builds up in fish. According to the EPA and FDA, women who may become pregnant, pregnant women and young children should limit their consumption to 12-ounces a week of fish with lower mercury, including canned “light” tuna and no more than 6 ounces of albacore. Check the label to make sure your “light” tuna comes from skipjack, which is lower in mercury. Yellowfin is less commonly found in cans but is also considered “light” and has a higher mercury level, similar to that of albacore (which is labeled “white”).

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