Best Tuna To Buy Canned
Canned or jarred tuna is a convenient pantry protein relied on for a quick lunch or dinner. However, there's a huge range in product quality on the market. Between sustainability, nutrition, and health, there's a lot to consider before stocking up on tuna.
best tuna to buy canned
Resources like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Site or Greenpeace's canned tuna report, which ranks 20 well known brands for their sustainability, as well as ethical and fair trade practices, are good places to start making more informed choices with canned fish.
There are a few main commercial species of tuna used in canning: albacore tuna is often sold as 'white tuna meat' and often caught in the Pacific (although it can be caught in the Atlantic). Skipjack tuna is sold as 'light' tuna. Most of the Pacific skipjack tuna comes from the western and central Pacific ocean. Yellowfin tuna can be canned as light tuna and mixed with skipjack.
What's incredibly frustrating is that at a glance, lots of tuna brands seem to have good nutrition, and the language on their website makes you think they're doing their part in responsible fishing and environmental practices. But a quick search of news articles tells you otherwise and, sadly, many common tuna brands aren't doing their part to be responsible.
Albacore is America's favorite tuna, and it's the only species of fish that can be labeled as "white". Its meat is lighter in color and less flavorful than "light" tuna, which typically comes from skipjack and yellowfin. The "light" tuna meat is slightly darker and more pink, and is considered more flavorful. In fact, the difference between light and white tuna meat is often compared to that of chicken breast and chicken thigh. Check the ingredient labels on your tuna to know exactly what fish variety you're getting.
Some brands carry both oil- and water-packed tuna, and sometimes just tuna and salt. It's really up to you to decide your preference. From a nutrition perspective, beware of tuna packed in soybean oil. If you're going to go for oil-packed tuna, olive oil packs more nutrients and is a better option. On the other hand, if you're watching fat intake, oil-packed will be higher in calories than water packed (but it'll also taste less dry).
The method of catching tuna is a big deal in the sustainability field. Pole and line fishing and trolling are two highly rated methods that make sure other species don't get caught in the mix. Poll and line means exactly what you think fishing means: one person with a pole. Trolling uses a boat with a few poles. But make sure to avoid the term "line caught" which can mean other methods that sound 'safe' but are really not (like long line fishing).
Tuna is an inexpensive protein that's shelf stable. It's a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, especially EPA and DHA, which are important for heart, brain, and eye health. Albacore and bluefin tuna have the highest levels of omega-3s followed by skipjack and yellowfin. Here are some things to look out for when picking up canned tuna:
The official tuna of the American Pregnancy Association, this product focuses on producing canned tuna with low mercury levels. Because they test each individual fish for mercury, their mercury limit is ten times lower than the FDA action limit. Safe Catch's tuna is sustainably caught without use of destructive fishing methods and they follow the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program recommendations. The only ingredients? Skipjack tuna and salt.
Awarded a 'green' label rating by Greenpeace, this global tuna company focuses on responsible fishing and transparency, and is a proud supporter of the Earth Island Institute. Ocean Naturals clearly lists the exact species of fish used in each product and only uses four ingredients across their line: the fish, salt, water, or olive oil. Their skipjack tuna contains 230 mg of omega 3 fatty acids per serving. All of their light meat tuna is 100 percent skipjack instead of a combination of multiple species (since some are more endangered than others).
Whole Foods' store brand has strong traceability to ensure responsible sourcing. It's worth noting that Whole Foods was the first US retailer to commit to selling only 100 percent sustainably canned tuna. Their Albacore tuna in water is a great low-sodium pick.
A higher end gourmet product from a Costa Rican brand, Tonnino tuna is definitely an experience in comparison to standard tuna cans. It comes in glass jars, packed in water or olive oil, and in a variety of flavors including garlic, capers, and jalapeño. The brand only sources from vessels registered with CIATT, a group that ensures conservation of resources and on-board observers who guarantee no species other than tuna get caught in the mix. They use responsible fishing methods and give back to their local community. While this brand has slightly higher sodium levels than others, it shouldn't be a deal breaker.
Bumble Bee calls their products 'preferred by customers when compared to Starkist' and a variety of other brands. But can we talk about tuna in soybean oil? While the ingredients are simple, there's no need for adding soybean oil to tuna alongside vegetable broth and sea salt. Soybean oil is an unsaturated fat, but it doesn't offer benefits like olive oil does. And when it comes to responsible fishing, watch out for this brand. While their marketing information states they are responsibly harvested from fisheries, Greenpeace advises avoiding this brand's greenwashing. You may also find it interesting that their CEO was recently convicted of price fixing, and the company accused of possible human rights and animal rights violations.
This Costco tuna brand is made from albacore tuna caught by destructive longline fishing methods that lead to a lot of by-catching of threatened species. While Costco used to sell a responsibly caught option under its signature brand, it's no longer on their shelves.
While this brand is easy to find in nearly every grocery store, it's not the best option available.On their website they talk about their fishing methods which include tactics that are considered destructive for the ocean (including long lining). The brand offers a lower sodium version if you're watching your numbers.
This brand of tuna is more like a complete, portable meal (desk lunch, anyone?). Each tin contains sustainably caught wild tuna and fresh produce like succulent corn, sliced olives, zesty herbs and sweet red peppers. Enjoy it on its own or add to mixed greens for an instantly flavorful salad.
All canned tunas are created equal, right? Not exactly. In fact, it's amazing how much of a variety you can find on the market, even between tunas with comparable ingredients! Think about it, you know bad tuna when you taste it, smell it, or stick a fork in it. On the other hand, great tuna is light, fresh, meaty, and versatile. It can yield the perfect tuna casserole, a mouthwatering tuna melt, or a delectable, creamy topping for butter crackers.
Understandably, with so many brands on the market these days, it can feel overwhelming to choose the best one. If you've grown bored of your current tuna brand and need to part ways, fear not. We've done all the hard work in order to spare you from the misery of the dreaded soupy tunas, the oily tunas, tunas with scales, the bone-dry tunas, and the tunas that smell rotten. Here's our list of the best and worst tuna brands on the market today.
While moist tuna is a must, greasy tuna can be completely off-putting. Since many tunas are packed in oil, it can be hard to know if you're purchasing something appetizing or cringe-worthy. We found this version of Century Tuna to fall into the cringe-worthy category because the can is filled to the brim with oil and pre-flaked, saturating each flake in excess oil.
Sadly, it ranked low on our list for more reasons than just that. The fish is packed in vegetable oil, specifically soya oil (soybean oil) which is highly refined. Also included in their very long list of ingredients are tuna flakes, water, brown sugar, natural ground spices (garlic, ginger, onion, cinnamon, chili), iodized salt, thickeners (guar gum, cornstarch), whey powder, and artificial flavors (tuna, chicken). Because they include whey in their canned tuna (for some strange reason), milk is an allergen in addition to soy from the use of soybean oil. Offered at $0.50 per ounce, it doesn't even compete on price (via Amazon).
Flavored tunas certainly sound great in theory. Rather than mixing your own flavors ahead of time, you can just pop a travel-friendly to-go container of deliciously seasoned tuna into your bag and peel back the lid when you're ready to eat it. If you love the idea of this, beware, not all flavored tunas are a win.
While the flavor combination of sesame and ginger sounds fancy, it may not be the best combination for packaged tuna. This combination of citrus and ginger makes for a somewhat chemical, cleaning detergent type of smell and taste. Perhaps even more disheartening is the price point. At over $1 per ounce, this tuna is one of the most expensive tunas on our list (via Amazon). While it does come in travel-friendly packaging (with a spoon included), other comparable flavored tunas are four times less expensive, more highly rated on flavor, and also offer the same convenient packaging. Unfortunately for Bumble Bee, there's no way we can justify the cost of this particular product, especially with its disappointing flavor profile.
While we love that the Walmart brand Great Value is easily accessible, and in fact a really great value most of the time, you may want to leave this can of tuna on the shelf. This tuna takes on a bit of a mushy quality and is hard to drain all the oil from. If you're looking to make tuna salad, the addition of more fat from mayo can be overwhelmingly greasy.
While the label states that the tuna is packed, it looks more like tuna bits floating in oil. Quality is a concern as one might find bone and skin mixed into their tuna, as other online reviewers had. Additionally, the ingredient list states that the tuna's packed in soybean oil making the product inedible for those with soy allergies. However, the price literally can't be matched. At $0.14 per ounce, this can of tuna is the cheapest on our list and likely the cheapest you'll find anywhere (via Walmart). 041b061a72