The Sodium Content of Canned Tuna

Sodium is an important mineral that serves a variety of functions in the body. However, consuming too much sodium can raise blood pressure levels and increase the risk of heart-related problems. Canned tuna is a good source of several important nutrients that promote health, but is it important to be aware of the different canning methods to limit excess sodium in the diet.

Sodium Content

Canned tuna is available in regular and light versions and is canned in water or oil and with or without salt. All tuna canned without salt in water or oil contains 42.5 mg of sodium per 3 ounces, according to Calorie Lab 2. Light tuna canned in oil with salt contains 300 mg of sodium and light tuna canned in water with salt contains 287 mg of sodium per 3 ounces. Regular white tuna canned in oil with salt contains the highest amount of sodium with 336 mg per 3 ounces and regular white tuna canned in water with salt contains 320 mg of sodium.

Dietary Reference Intakes

The majority of Americans consume too much sodium per day with the average American consuming approximately 3,400 mg of sodium per day, according to the American Heart Association 14. The Institue of Medicine recommends consuming at least 1,500 mg of sodium per day with maximum daily amounts not to exceed 2,300 mg. The American Heart Association recommends individual’s with heart failure to limit sodium intake to less than 2,000 mg per day 14. A low-sodium diet can help reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease. The amount of sodium in foods is always listed on the nutrition facts labels along with the percent daily value. It is important to look at serving sizes to determine the entire amount of sodium in the package.

Sodium and Health

Sodium is an important mineral because it helps maintain the balance of fluids in the body and is needed for the conduction of nerve impulses and muscle contraction. However, consuming too much sodium is a major factor in the development of high blood pressure, as excess sodium causes the body to retain water and makes the heart work harder. Sodium is naturally present in a variety of foods, but the majority of an individual’s sodium intake comes from the sodium added to processed and prepared foods. In addition, adding table salt to foods greatly increases daily sodium intake as just a single teaspoon of salt contains approximately 2,300 mg of sodium. It is important to avoid high-sodium foods and prepare low or no-sodium foods, particularly for individuals with heart disease.


When consuming canned tuna, it is best to select light tuna in water without the added salt to greatly reduce the sodium content as well as lower calorie, fat and saturated fat amounts 2. Tuna is a very good source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids as well as B-vitamins and the mineral selenium. Also, if mixing the tuna with mayonnaise, it is best to choose low-sodium mayonnaise to minimize excess sodium intake.