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The Healthy Dish on Tuna

Image: tuna burgers (ARA) - Why is it that most of us aren't eating enough fish? The American Heart Association and the United States Department of Agriculture urge all Americans to enjoy at least two servings of seafood per week, but only 10 percent of women do, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Long restricted to mom's tuna casserole or plain tuna sandwiches, canned tuna is making a comeback in trendy gourmet recipes and the diets of health-conscious Americans.

"Americans need to eat more fish for healthier diets and canned light tuna is an excellent entry-level choice," says Donna Shields, a dietary expert and nutrition consultant for the Tuna Council. "Canned tuna is affordable, easy to find and a snap to prepare. Best of all tuna is a health food - rich in lean protein, vitamins and minerals - that excites the taste buds."

Tuna has more to offer than just great taste and nutrition. Research has shown that omega-3s, found in abundance in fish like canned tuna, offer important health benefits including the following:

Brain power
Omega-3s help boost brain development in babies and young children. For new moms, omega-3s may help prevent or manage postpartum depression. And omega-3s may also slow the loss of memory as people age.

Heart health
Fish high in omega-3s, like canned tuna, have been shown to greatly reduce heart disease, the number one killer of men and women. Other heart health benefits include reduced risk of stroke, lower blood pressure and improved cholesterol.

Disease prevention
Selenium is an essential mineral and antioxidant found in fish. Antioxidants protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Many experts believe this damage is a factor in the development of blood vessel disease, cancer and other conditions. Emerging science suggests selenium may also have a neutralizing effect on the trace amounts of mercury found in fish.

Improved energy and movement
B vitamins, found in tuna, help maintain and build red blood cells and increase circulation and energy levels. The nutrients in fish may also alleviate arthritis pain.

Work out power house
Fitness gurus have long praised tuna because it is high in protein and, unlike many other high protein foods, naturally low in fat. Protein helps build muscles and aids in tissue repair. Tuna is so high in protein that just one six-ounce can has a third of the recommended daily amount

Doctors and dietitians agree that, while nearly all fish contain traces of mercury, the healthful nutrients in seafood outweigh concerns. Both light and albacore canned tuna have levels of mercury far below the federal safety limit.

"The Food and Drug Administration highlights canned light tuna as a popular lower mercury choice. The average mercury in canned light tuna is eight times lower than the FDA's conservative limit. Plus, the tuna companies monitor mercury levels, so you know you are safe," comments Shields.

Ready to serve tuna to your family? There are a number of quick and easy ideas. Try a simple tuna sandwich with chopped olives, tuna penne pasta with tomato sauce or something more exotic like a delicious vegetable and tuna stir fry.

Short on time? Tuna now comes in a variety of on-the-go convenient packaging including individual serving cups, pouches and in ready-to-serve flavors like lemon-pepper.

For more information on tuna and the importance of fish in a healthy diet, visit

Courtesy of ARA Content

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