Some of the many health benefits of tuna fish include its ability to reduce cardiovascular conditions, stimulate growth and development, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, help in weight loss efforts, boost the immune system, increase energy, maintain the health of the skin, increase red blood cell count, prevent cancer, protect against various kidney diseases, reduce general inflammation, and inhibit cell membrane damage.
While many cannot affor or even access fresh tuna, canned tuna is inexpensive and packed with protein. The fish is mild in flavour and versatile enough to include in a variety of nutritious recipes.
Opt for tuna canned in water; a serving contains less than 1 gram of fat and only around 100 calories. While one should not eat tuna every day because of its mercury content, one can still safely enjoy canned tuna as a regular part of a healthy eating plan.
Nutritional Value of Tuna
Tuna contains many health benefits due to an impressive amount of vitamins, minerals, nutrients, and other organic compounds. These include antioxidants and protein, without much saturated fat or sodium. Tuna also has impressive levels of selenium, and good amounts of phosphorous, iron, magnesium, and potassium. In terms of vitamins, there is a wealth of vitamin B12 and niacin, as well as a good amount of vitamin B6 and riboflavin.
Blood Pressure: The combination of omega-3 fatty acids in tuna, which are anti-inflammatory, can help reduce blood pressure, lowering the strain on the cardiovascular system.
Growth and Development: Tuna is packed with protein, which are the building blocks of our body. With proper amounts of protein in our system, we are guaranteed to have increased growth and development, faster recovery from wounds and illnesses, improved muscle tone and growth, and overall metabolic efficiency, as well as boosting energy levels.
Weight Loss and Obesity: Tuna is low in calories and fat, yet loaded with beneficial nutrients and protein. The omega-3 fatty acids found in tuna stimulate a hormone called leptin, which balances the body’s food intake with the internal desire to eat more, which can help get one’s diet and appetite back on track.
Immune System: Tuna contains good amounts of vitamin C, zinc, and manganese, all of which are considered antioxidant in nature. Antioxidants are one of the body’s defense mechanisms against free radicals, the harmful byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause cancer and other chronic diseases. The real champion of tuna’s immune system-boosting potential, however, is selenium.
Energy Levels: The B complex of vitamins are mainly involved in improving the metabolism and increasing the efficiency of our organ systems, while also protecting the skin and increasing energy. Consuming tuna fish regularly, will ensure that one is active, energetic, and healthy.
Cancer Prevention: As mentioned earlier, tuna fish has very good antioxidant properties thanks to selenium and various other nutritional components, making it effective at preventing some types of cancer.
Tuna has many other health benefits too, so here are some great, easy tuna recipes that you can make for your Little Fighter (and the rest of your family).
Spaghetti Rosti with Tuna
Yield: 4-6 Servings
- 225g spaghetti
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped finely
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- 5 eggs, beaten
- 2 (180g) cans tuna in water, drained and flaked
- 1⁄4 cup cheddar cheese, grated
- salt, to taste
- pepper, to taste
- Cook the spaghetti al dente (still slightly hard), according to directions.
2. Drain and rinse under plenty of cold water, drain again and put aside.
3. Heat the oil in a large non stick skillet, which has to be suitable to put under the broiler/grill.
4. Fry the onion over a medium heat for approximately five minutes, then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
5. In a large bowl combine the pasta, tuna eggs and onion/garlic mixture.
6. Season to taste with salt and pepper, you can also add some oregano or basil if you like.
7. Pour everything into your skillet and top with cheese.
8. Cook on top of the hob, without stirring, until the eggs are nearly fully set, about ten minutes.
9. Place under a preheated medium grill/broiler and grill until fully set and starting to brown.
This is great cut into wedges and served with a salad.
Yield: 4 Servings
- 2 (180gram) cans tuna in water, drained
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 carrot, scraped and finely grated
- 1⁄4 cup Italian-style seasoned dry bread crumb
- 1 green onion, finely sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 4 teaspoons olive oil
- 4 hamburger buns
- In a mixing bowl, combine tuna, eggs, carrot, breadcrumbs, onion, parsley and cayenne; shape mixture into four patties.
2. In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.
3. Sauté tuna patties for four to five minutes on each side; turn carefully as they easily fall apart.
4. Serve on hamburger buns (really nice if toasted) with your choice of condiments; I recommend lettuce leaves and mayonnaise.
Tuna & Tomato Pizza
Yield: 4-5 Servings
- 1 refrigerated classic pizza crust
- 1 (180 gram) can tuna, drained
- 1 -2 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 medium tomatoes, sliced & seeds mostly removed (to reduce excess juice)
- 2 -3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 200 grams cheddar cheese, shredded
- Preheat oven to 220°C
2. Lightly grease a cookie sheet
3. Place pizza base onto sheet
4. Brush crust with olive oil
5. Spread tuna evenly over crust, add tomatoes and sprinkle basil over all
6. Sprinkle shredded cheese over top
7. Bake 13-17 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is deep golden brown
NB: You can also add olives if you like
Maldivian Tuna Curry
Yield: 6 Servings
- 45ml (3 tbsp) dessicated coconut
- 2 red chillies, seeded and sliced
- 1 green chilli, seeded and sliced
- 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
- 3 large cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
- A 2cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
- 30ml (2 tbsp) ghee or 15ml (1 tbsp) butter and 15ml (1tbsp) oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 3 curry leaves plus extra for serving
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 4 cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 2.5ml (½ tsp) black mustard seeds
- 250ml (1 cup) chicken or fish stock
- 1 x 400g can coconut cream
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 x 170g cans of tuna chunks in vegetable oil, drained
- Cooked basmati rice
- A handful of toasted coconut flakes
- Chilli flakes
- Fresh coriander
- Pour 100ml of boiling water over the desiccated coconut and set aside to soak.
2. With a pestle and mortar or blender combine the chillies, spring onion, garlic and ginger into a smooth paste.
3. In a large frying pan melt the ghee and fry the paste until it’s fragrant, then add the onion, curry leaves, cinnamon sticks, cardamom pods and mustard seeds. Cook over a low heat for 10 minutes, allowing the onions to soften.
4. Add the chicken stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer. After 10 minutes add the soaked coconut with the liquid and the coconut cream to the pan.
5. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring from time to time, till it thickens. Season.
Add the tuna chunks and heat through without boiling. Season.
6. Serve over rice with a sprinkling of toasted coconut flakes, curry leaves, chilli flakes and fresh coriander
NB: Chillies can either be left out or less added according to taste