How do you decide what type of tuna to buy? There are several types of commercial tuna. The most popular ones are Albacore, Bigeye, Bluefin, Bonito, Skipjack, Tongol and Yellowfin. Depending on where you live, some of these may be more popular than others.
Each type of tuna is an excellent source of protein: a 3-ounce serving of tuna provides around 20 grams of protein. Tuna is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids with Bigeye, Northern Bluefin and Southern Bluefin tuna having the most fat. The higher fat content gives them a creamier texture and makes them favorable choices for raw tuna dishes like poke and sashimi.
So, yes tuna is an excellent source of protein and omega-3, but what about food safety? Some types of tuna and other large fish like King Mackerel, Swordfish, Shark and Marlin should be avoided because of their extremely high mercury content.
Here are some quick guidelines for buying tuna based on information from the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund:
- Bigeye and Ahi tuna have the highest levels of mercury and should be avoided.
- Bluefin has been shown to have elevated mercury and PCBs levels in some areas; you should eat this tuna infrequently (no more than 1 serving a month) or never.
- Albacore and Yellowfin have high levels of mercury and their consumption should be limited to three servings or less per month.
- Skipjack has moderate levels of mercury; you can get away with six servings or less per month with these.
The FDA advises pregnant and nursing women to avoid tuna and that children should eat smaller servings. Check out the FDA and EPA’s data on mercury to learn more.
If you’re more of a salmon person then you’re in luck. Salmon (except for farmed or Atlantic salmon) has much less mercury so you can enjoy 4 or more servings a month of it.
The takeaway: For most tuna, limit your consumption to a few servings a month. Completely avoid Ahi, Bigeye and Bluefin.
Now that we have gotten all the serious stuff out of the way, let’s get to cooking. If you ever come across some high quality, fresh, mercury-safe tuna, try this recipe and let me know what you think.
Prep Time: 10 minutes . Cook Time: 2-3 minutes . Yield: Serves 4
1 lb Tuna Steak
1/2 Cup Sesame Seeds
1/3 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/3 Cup Rice Vinegar
1 Tbsp Fresh Ginger, minced
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tsp Brown Sugar (optional)
1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
1. In a bowl, combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and black pepper to make a marinade. Place tuna in a ziploc bag and pour in marinade. Let tuna marinate for at least 30 minutes.
2. Remove tuna from marinade and pat dry. Firmly press sesame seeds into tuna steak.
3. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Spray with cooking spray. Place encrusted tuna steak into skillet and cook until desired doneness. For a 1-inch thick steak, cook for 2 minutes on each side for medium-rare.
4. Let steak rest for about 5 minutes before slicing on the diagonal into 1/4-inch slices.
Nutrition per 3-Oz Serving Serving: 151 Cals; 3g Carb; 4g Fat; 24g Protein; 1g Dietary Fiber
Nutrition calculated using the MyFitnessPal Recipe Importer