Whether you’re fixing a quick sandwich from canned tuna or making gourmet dinner from a choice-cut tuna steak, tuna fish can make a versatile and delicious meal. Rich in both taste and nutrition, including tuna in your diet is a satisfying way to achieve better health. Tuna, especially the ones caught in cold water, are extremely high in essential fatty acids, proteins, vitamins and minerals that can help improve your cardiovascular, nervous and immune functions. Many studies have found that regular intake of tuna can significantly reduce the level of plaque-forming cholesterol in your blood and protect you from stokes and heart attacks. There are three nutrients that are mainly responsible for these therapeutic functions of tuna.
Cholesterol-Lowering Fatty Acids
The fat content of tuna is mostly composed of health-promoting monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Monounsaturated fats block cholesterol absorption in your intestines as well as prevent your liver from making new cholesterol.
Tuna is especially high in omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat that is often isolated and sold as a dietary supplement for heart disease prevention. Omega-3 fatty acids increase the amount of high-density lipoproteins (HDL) in your blood. These HDLs travel throughout your blood vessels, bind to any non-HDLs in its path, and send them to your liver for elimination. A 3-ounce tuna steak can supply you with more than 1,400 milligrams of omega-3 fatty acids, which is well over the effective dosage for cholesterol reduction.
Niacin Further Improves Your Blood Makeup
Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is crucial to heart disease prevention. Studies have shown that at high doses, niacin can help reverse the damages of atherosclerosis by replacing the clog-forming “bad” cholesterol in your blood with the “good” ones. Niacin has proven effective in reducing the amount of triglycerides, low-density lipoproteins (LDLs) and very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs). At the same time, evidences has also shown that niacin can raise the HDL level in your blood.
Tuna is full of this vitamin. Since niacin is held within the cells of the fish, light cooking can help release this nutrient to maximize your absorption. One 3-ounce serving of cooked tuna delivers about 50% of your daily recommended niacin intake, compared to 37% if you eat it raw. Therefore, eating sushi is good, but having it pan-seared is even better.
Vitamin B6 Prevents Cholesterol Coagulation
Vitamin B6 helps lower your cholesterol level by preventing cholesterol from sticking together and forming deposits. You body produces a compound called homocysteine, which enables the lipids in your blood to coagulate. Vitamin B6 speeds up the breakdown of homocysteine so that your blood cholesterol does not congeal and is much easier to remove. Tuna is an excellent source of this vitamin, contributing about 22% of your daily requirement in every 3-ounce serving.
Selenium Keeps You Safe from Mercury
Don’t worry about getting mercury poisoning from a tuna-rich diet. The powerful antioxidant selenium can effectively detoxify your body and protect you from any possible contamination. Each 3-ounce serving of tuna contains about 44% of your dietary need for selenium. So eat all the tuna you want, mercury won’t cause problem.