Tuna, one of the most commercially important fish is by no doubt a nutritious and health benefitting super food. It is a salt water fish, rich in nutrients and containing high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. Tuna fish belongs to a group, known as Thunnini, which consists of about 15 species of tuna, most of which are loved by people all over the world. It is a tasty, versatile, and inexpensive food that can boost your health in many ways.
Nutritional value of tuna fish
Tuna fish is an excellent source of protein and is low in saturated fat. It is packed with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other essential nutrients. Tuna is a rich source of unsaturated fats, especially omega 3 fatty acids, which contributes to many of the health benefits of this fish. It also contains high amounts of vitamins like vitamin B3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, and good amounts of vitamins like vitamin D, vitamin B1 and vitamin B2. The intake of tuna fish can provide you with high amounts of minerals like selenium, potassium, phosphorus, iodine, calcium, iron, zinc and magnesium.
Health benefits of tuna fish
Tuna, either in the fresh or canned form is highly nutritious can provide you with a range of health benefits. These many health benefits of tuna fish can be attributed to the remarkable list of vitamins, minerals, organic compounds, and other nutrients found in this tasty fish.
Tuna fish and high protein content
One of the most important nutritional attractions of tuna is that it is high in protein content. Eating foods rich in protein can help to keep your muscles strong. It is also beneficial for maintaining the proper health of your nails, skin and hair. Protein is also essential for the formation of antibodies, enzymes and hormones.
Tuna fish for cardiovascular health
Omega-3 fatty acids are found to be beneficial in lowering your risk of cardiovascular diseases. Tuna is rich in this omega-3 s like DHA (Docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (Eicosapentaenoic acid). According to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center, DHA and EPA are helpful in lowering the levels of triglyceride in your blood, which in turn helps in inhibiting the formation of plaque in your blood vessels. They also prevent the formation of blood clots and help in protecting against heart attacks and strokes. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce the risk of arrhythmia by allowing greater variability between heartbeats. Tuna fish helps in improving the ratio of good cholesterol (HDL) to bad cholesterol (LDL). It contains high amount of vitamin B6 and folic acid, both of which help in lowering the levels of homocysteine, which is an important risk factor for atherosclerosis.
Tuna fish lowers blood pressure
Fresh tuna is an excellent source of potassium and it is low in sodium. A 3 ounce portion of tuna provides you with about 448 milligrams of potassium and 46 milligrams of sodium. A diet containing high potassium and low sodium levels is beneficial in lowering high blood pressure as the potassium helps in neutralizing the effects of sodium. It is better to consume fresh tuna or canned tuna without salt instead of canned tuna with salt as the latter has high amounts of sodium.
Tuna fish aids in losing weight
Tuna is low in calories and a wonderful source of protein. Therefore choosing this fish as your protein source can help your body get all the nutrients and at the same time help you manage your weight as it does not add extra calories. According to a study published in “The Journal of Nutrition” in the year 2009, protein helps in increasing satiety and keeps you feeling full for longer period of time. It also promotes weight loss by burning extra calories. The omega-3 fatty acid in tuna fish is capable of stimulating a hormone known as leptin, which helps in improving your metabolism and in controlling your appetite. Since tuna has a low glycemic index and is also low in fat and calories, incorporating it in your diet will help you attain your weight loss goals.
Boost your immune system with tuna fish
The immune system is a very important part of the body that is responsible for fighting against disease causing microbes and preventing diseases and infections. It is therefore critical to keep your immune system healthy and functioning at its optimum best. Tuna fish is a great source of the mineral selenium, which has powerful antioxidant properties that helps in enhancing your body’s immunity.
Tuna fish promotes detoxification
The high levels of omega-3 fatty acids and selenium found in tuna fish plays a key role in the production of the antioxidant glutathione peroxidase. This antioxidant is vital for maintaining a healthy liver, which in turn promotes detoxification and the elimination of wastes and toxic substances like chemicals and heavy metals.
Tuna fish can protect the health of your eyes
It has been found that the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids in tuna can offer protection from age related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD is a condition of the eye which causes the deterioration of vision leading to central vision loss. This condition is considered to be one of the most important causes of blindness in people who are over 50 years of age. Some studies also reveal that women who consumed more amounts of omega-3 fatty acids had lower risks of developing dry eye syndrome.
Tuna fish improves cognitive functions
The benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids to your health are innumerable. Studies suggest that they may be helpful in reducing decline of cognitive functions and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. They work by lowering inflammation and promoting a healthy blood supply to the brain. They also help in transmitting electrical signals within the brain and reduce brain lesions in people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Research also shows that DHA, a type of omega-3 fatty acid may help in stimulating the production of a protein known as LR11 that is helpful in getting rid of the beta-amyloid plaques that are formed in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients. Tuna fish contains high amounts of niacin, a B group vitamin that may help in preventing Alzheimer’s disease and age-related mental decline. According to studies, a high intake of niacin can reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s disease by about 70%.
Tuna fish protects you from cancer
Tuna contains high levels of Vitamin E and Selenium, two powerful antioxidants that can protect you from certain types of cancer such as pancreatic, oral, oesophagus, stomach, larynx, kidney, and colon cancers. The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna have been found to lowers the risk of leukaemia and prevent breast cancer. These fatty acids help in activating an enzyme called sphingomyelinase that in turn releases ceramides, which are a form of lipid molecules. These molecules are capable of suppressing the growth and proliferation of cancer causing cells.
Tuna for diabetic patients
A proper and well-balanced nutrition is extremely important for people suffering from diabetes. Tuna is a great food choice for your diabetes diet as it is low in calories and provides you with high amounts of protein, omega-3 fatty acids other important nutrients. Tuna has no carbohydrate content and hence it will not cause any spikes in your blood sugar levels. Tuna fish is a good source of vitamin D, which is beneficial in improving your glucose metabolism. According to a study published in the “Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism,” a combination of calcium and vitamin D may help in reducing insulin resistance by stimulating the production and release of insulin, which can be of great help for type 2 diabetic patients.
Tuna fish is a mood enhancer
Consumption of tuna fish is found to help in boosting your mood and in preventing stress. EPA, an Omega-3 fatty acid found in this fish improves the circulation of blood and also supports the functioning of the immune system and hormones, both of which play an important role in maintaining the proper functioning of your brain. DHA is another omega-3 fatty acid that helps in transmitting electrical signals and supports serotonin metabolism, which in turn helps in preventing depression. Serotonin is a chemical produced in the brain that is associated with enhancing your mood.
Tuna fish prevents kidney diseases
The amount of potassium and sodium in tuna is highly balanced, which is helpful in maintaining the proper balance of fluid in your body. This helps your kidneys to function at their best, thereby lowering the risks of developing kidney problems.
Tuna fish increases your energy levels
Tuna contains good amounts of B complex vitamins that help in improving your metabolism and in boosting your energy levels. The regular consumption of tuna fish can ensure that you stay healthy, active and energetic.
Tuna has anti-inflammatory properties
Some of the nutrients in tuna fish exhibit anti-inflammatory properties, which help in reducing inflammation and in preventing inflammatory diseases like arthritis and gout.
Tuna fish prevents damage of cell membrane
Cooking tuna fish causes the proteins in it to disintegrate into peptides, which are powerful antioxidants. These antioxidants fight off free radicals and prevent damage caused to cells and cell membranes, thus keeping them healthy and strong.
Since tuna is a salt water fish, its flesh can accumulate a certain amount of mercury. However, when eaten in moderation, it is possible to obtain all the above mentioned health benefits of this amazing fish without being affected by the negative effects of mercury. Tuna is considered to be the perfect super food, which should be included in your diet at least twice a week. If you are looking for a lean protein source, then tuna is definitely the number one choice. The fact that it is low in calories and fat makes it an ideal substitute for meats and dairy products that are high in fat content.Image Credits: Pixabay, Flickr - Ann & Ming