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Here’s The Nutritional Difference Between Canned Tuna In Water And Canned Tuna In Oil

In the past, there used to be no love for canned tuna but now it has become popular. These days, tuna comes stored in different mediums including water and oil which begs the question, does this affect their nutritional content in any way? The answer to that question lies somewhere in this short brief.

By Cookist

Canned tuna is now available in albacore, skipjack and yellowfin varieties and is usually seasoned with spices like lemon pepper, garlic pepper, sun-dried tomato, Thai chillies, or jalapenos.

There is a reason canned tuna has become so popular among people – its versatility and affordability. Canned tuna can be paired with pasta and fresh spring peas for a light but fulfilling dinner, or it can be mixed with bread crumbs to make crunchy croquettes.

A can of tuna has many cooking applications and while this is great, the question remains. Which one is more advisable to consume, tuna in oil or tuna in water?

The USDA says one 6.5-ounce can of drained tuna packed in oil contains 317 calories while tuna packed in water yields 150 calories per can. If you wish to drain your can of tuna before using it, it is advisable you opt for tuna packed in water.


This is because even after getting drained, tuna in water will retain its omega-3s. For tuna in oil, the moment you drain the oil away, the nutrients will also follow. One study has also shown that tuna in the water had more omega-3 fats than tuna in oil.

When it comes to mercury levels, there is no real difference between tuna packed in water and tuna packed in oil. The most relevant factor seems to be the type of tuna used. Albacore tuna contains significantly higher levels of mercury than skipjack tuna.

That said, there are definite differences between tuna in oil and tuna in water, however choosing the one that suits you depends on what you care about and what you wish to use it for. If you are extra conscious of calories and are looking to maximize omega-3 fatty acids, tuna in water might be the best for you.


Alternately, if moisture, flavor, and vitamin D levels are what you care the most about, then tuna in oil is your best bet. Whichever one you choose, it is important that you keep the consumption moderate.

Tuna has high sodium content and potentially high mercury levels which is why it is best to eat them moderately. That means only one to three 4-ounce servings per week.

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