Omega-3 fatty acids are underrepresented in the typical Western diet, which is high in meat and low in fish. Mediterranean diets, which are higher in fish and lower in meat, have been associated with decreased risk of heart disease, a major health problem in the United States. Increasing your intake of omega-3 may help decrease your risk of cardiovascular disorders, but it’s important to make the right food choices when it comes to what kind of fish to eat.
Heart Healthy Omega-3
The American Heart Association states that increasing your omega-3 intake may help you risk cardiovascular disorders such as arrhythmia and high blood pressure. Omega-3 fatty acids are also associated with decreased serum triglycerides, fats that circulate in your blood stream and contribute to heart disease. Arterial plaque growth also slows in response to omega-3 fatty acids. Plaques are accumulations of cholesterol that can gather on blood vessel walls and affect the flow of blood throughout the body.
Fatty types of fish are a source of omega-3. The AHA lists salmon, mackerel, herring and albacore tuna as containing high concentrations of omega-3. The convenience of canned tuna may make it seem like a prime choice for obtaining omega-3 fatty acids, but some question the value of canned versus other forms of tuna when trying to increase omega-3 intake.
Canned vs. Fresh
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the omega-3 content of tuna varies according to the type of tuna and the way it is processed. Fresh bluefin tuna is listed as having the highest omega-3 content, with 1.504g of DHA and EPA in every 100g. Light tuna canned in oil has the lowest, at just 0.128g. White tuna canned in water is a better choice, at .862g per 100g of fish.
If you’re worried about consuming environmental toxins when you eat fish, you’re not alone. It’s a valid concern because fish can absorb toxins from the environment and substances such as mercury can accumulate in their flesh. The American Heart Association says that canned light tuna is generally lower in mercury than other sources and advises you to eat a variety of fish to minimize the effects of any potential pollutants.