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If there was a support group for tuna addicts, I would be sitting in the front row. I have been a tuna fish lover since I was in elementary school. My mother always packed my lunch, and when I opened that brown paper bag and saw a tuna fish sandwich wrapped in waxed paper, I was euphoric. Now that I am an adult, my opportunities to eat tuna have increased exponentially.

In addition to tuna sandwiches, I also love tuna noodle casserole, tuna burgers, grilled tuna and cheese, and tuna pasta salad. Unfortunately, growing up, my kids hated tuna fish, so I didn’t make those dishes very often when they were still at home. Now that they are gone, I can indulge myself to my heart’s content.

A couple of years ago, my granddaughter spent the day with me and watched me eat a tuna fish sandwich. Since her father (my son) probably never brought a can of tuna into their house, she didn’t know what it was and asked for a taste of my sandwich.  I gave her a bite, and she said “this is really good.”  Hallelujah, I got another tuna lover (it just had to skip a generation). So now my son buys tuna and makes it for her at home, which pleases me no end.  Because the health benefits of tuna are amazing.

Research over the years has clearly shown anti-inflammatory benefits from omega-3 fatty acids, and tuna is an important source of omega-3’s. In an average 5-ounce can, you can get anywhere from 7-28 milligrams of EPA and 140-850 milligrams of DHA. Both types of fatty acids are necessary for regulation of the body’s inflammatory system and prevention of inflammation. The higher numbers are more reflective of the omegas in albacore tuna; the lower from canned “light” tuna. But albacore tuna may contain more mercury, so I stick with the light version since I eat it 2-3 times a week.

Omega-3 fatty acids can reduce your risk for heart disease, cancer and arthritis. They can also help lower cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Because they support a healthy brain, omega-3’s may aid in the treatment of certain mental disorders such as depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Tuna contains small amounts of the antioxidants vitamin C, manganese, and zinc. But where it really shines is in its selenium content. Selenium also acts as an antioxidant, as well as boosting the immune system, regulating thyroid function, and improving blood flow.

As well, tuna is high in niacin, a B-vitamin that helps keep your digestive system, skin and nerves healthy. Niacin helps reduce harmful cholesterol levels and may increase beneficial cholesterol as well.

Do you have a cat?

Cats love tuna water. Don’t throw it down the drain. Press the lid down, squeeze the water into a bowl, and give it to your cat. You end up with a sandwich for yourself and a bowl of fishy goodness for your favorite feline. Win, win.

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YUM!

 

Written by:  Donna Green, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Erie County, green.308@osu.edu

 

Reviewed by:  Beth Stefura, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Mahoning County, stefura.2@osu.edu

 

Sources:

http://www.umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/omega3-fatty-acids

https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/002409.htm

 

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