A can of tuna can be purchased on sale for about half a buck. The other end of the canned fish price spectrum could cost you about 5 bucks. What’s the difference inside the cans, is white better than light and chunk better the solid? This convenient, nutritious and cheap source of omega-3 fatty acids deserves a closer look inside those cans.
Can or Pouch
The containers provides no flavor difference, but cans cost less and protect the contents better. A pouch of tuna requires no can opener and no draining, so it makes it easy to stash in a lunch box or gym bag. However, the soft sided pouch also offers no protection to the tuna and the fish could be mush by the time the pouch is opened.
White or Light
White tuna is always albacore, which has a milder flavor than other tuna varieties. White (albacore) tuna is more expensive and has 3 times the amount of healthy omega-3 fatty acid than other tuna. It also has 3 times the mercury content.
Light tuna can be yellowfin, shipjack, bigfin or a combination of the 3.
Chunk or Solid
Chunk tuna is packed in small, flat pieces and is perfect for tuna salads, casseroles and similar dishes. Solid tuna is packed in one large piece that flakes into hearty pieces suitable for pasta or green salads.
Oil or Water
Oil packed tuna has a stronger fish flavor and more calories. Look for tuna packed in olive oil for the best flavor and added omega-3’s from the healthy olive oil. Water packed tuna is usually packed in a combination water and vegetable broth liquid and has a mild flavor and about 100 calories per can.
Almost all fish contain mercury, and tuna is on the low end of the mercury scale, having less than most fish. Top health organizations recommend eating at least two servings of fatty fish like tuna per week, with the exclusion of young child or pregnant/nursing mothers due to their sensitivity to mercury.
Albacore, as previously mentioned, contains three times the amount of mercury as other tuna varieties because it is older when caught and has accumulated more mercury in it’s system by the times it’s caught. This does not include albacore tuna which are troll or pole caught, they are younger and stay close to the water’s surface and therefore contain less mercury than their older albacore relatives which are commercially caught in deep sea nets.