Is tuna packed in oil better than tuna packed in water, and does one contain less mercury?

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question-answer-color-v-2Is tuna packed in oil better than tuna packed in water?

Which has the most mercury? -Carol H.


Here are your seafood answers, Carol:

1)      Tuna packed in oil contains way more fat and calories, otherwise the nutrition is the same. The oils most used with canned tuna are sunflower oil or olive oil, and both contain healthy unsaturated fats.


2)      A 10 year-old study states “There were no significant differences in mercury levels in tuna packed in oil compared to water,” and found that draining the fluid didn’t affect mercury levels. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, solid white albacore tuna has nearly three times the mercury content of canned light.


The official EPA advisory recommends that adults eat up to two 6 oz servings of low mercury fish/shellfish per week. The fish with the highest mercury to avoid are swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish and shark.

– Debbie J., MS, RD

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Debbie James is a registered dietitian. Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or recommendations of Fitness International, LLC.

Posted on February 27, 2014, in Ask Our Dietitian, Health, Helpful, Nutrition, Weight Loss and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. If I wanted to follow a vegan diet would I get enough protein out of 2 to 3 protein shakes a day?

    • Yes! Most protein shakes offer at least 20 grams per serving, so 2-3 shakes should just about meet the average woman’s need of 60 grams per day. In addition to a diet based on whole foods (legumes, nuts, seeds, grains & vegtables) and vegan alternatives, your requirments should be met.

      Every half cup of bean is approximately 8 grams protein, an ounce of nuts or seeds offer 6 grams protein, an ounce of whole grain is 3 grams, and a half cup of cooked vegetables contributes on average 2 grams protein. (Fruit and pure fat have negligible protein.)

      Please read our blog articles on “Is Protein an Issue for Vegans?” from April 2013 and “The Benefits and Basics of Going Vegetarian” from Sept. 2103.

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