I hardly need an excuse to eat tuna. Whether it’s seared with a delicious crust of salt, marinated and served as a steak, or even mixed with homemade mayo and relish and spread on a kaiser roll, tuna has no problem finding a home in my stomach.
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It’s a great way for me to mix protein into a salad or enjoy a healthy lunch that’s light in calories. Thanks to the rich variety of nutrients it provides, I can get a big boost of energy for the rest of my day.
But how does it help?
Here are some of the specific vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that tuna provides your body, along with a brief explanation of why they’re important.
1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids Are Good For Your Heart
If you’ve been following health trends at all, you’ve probably heard a lot about omega-3 fatty acids. While some people turn to fish oil pills to get these vital nutrients, you’re better off getting them from the fish itself. The studies that demonstrate all of the positive effects of omega-3 acids were performed on groups that got their omega-3 acids from dietary sources, not pills.
Omega-3 acids help reduce joint pain and stiffness, combat depression, fight asthma, and is linked to proper neurological development in children. Most importantly, however, they help reduce the amount of a certain type of fat in your blood, called triglyceride.
Too much triglyceride in your blood is a major factor in heart disease. Because omega-3 acids help lower your triglyceride levels, they can help ward off heart attacks and other cardiovascular issues. In other words, eating tuna literally makes you live longer!
2. Tuna Contains Lots of Protein
You need a lot of protein in your diet, especially if you’re trying to build muscle. This important building block enables your body to make new cells and can even help you shed fat. Tuna is very rich in protein, especially on a per-calorie basis.
The first protein shake I could find has 14 grams of protein per 120 calories. A can of tuna offers 26 grams of protein in the same 120 calories. That’s twice as much! Eating tuna helps you balance your caloric intake while providing all of the nutrients you need.
Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, you’ll still get more room in your diet for other foods you enjoy.
3. Tuna Helps Produce Melatonin
Melatonin is a hormone that your body uses to help control your sleep cycles. It helps you feel awake during the day and tired at night. It also helps regulate stress and has been used to treat headaches. Importantly, it’s a natural antioxidant, meaning that it helps your body ward off the effects of aging.
Vitamin B6 is used by your body to turn tryptophan into melatonin. Studies have shown that a lack of B6 often leads to depression, insomnia, and other mental health issues. Tuna is rich in vitamin B6, meaning that you’ll provide your body with the resources it needs to manage your sleep properly. It’s a healthy alternative to Melatonin supplements, which carry the risk of overdosing.
B6 isn’t the only way that tuna contributes to your melatonin levels. It’s also rich in tryptophan, the chemical that B6 helps convert into melatonin. As if that wasn’t enough, tuna is loaded with magnesium, too. While magnesium isn’t involved in melatonin production, it’s got a natural relaxing effect and is used by your body whenever it calms down.
In other words, tuna is one of the best foods to eat if you’re having trouble sleeping. It won’t make you drowsy, though. Tuna simply provides your body with the tools it needs to go to sleep when it’s ready.
4. Antioxidants: Improving Your Immune System
If you’ve ever taken a vitamin C booster during cold season, you know that nutrients are important to keep your immune system healthy. Tuna is full of a number of these nutrients, including the aforementioned vitamin C, zinc, selenium, and manganese. All of these vitamins and minerals help your body’s natural processes ward off disease and decay at a cellular level.
While their effects vary, one thing that all of these nutrients have in common is that they’re antioxidants. This means that they help reduce the damage that free radicals cause to your cells.
Free radicals are released during ATP, a process your cells use to produce energy. If they’re not checked by antioxidants, they can cause premature aging, cancer, and a host of other problems.
5. Mercury – Isn’t It Bad?
Let’s be clear: most fish, tuna included, has some amount of mercury in it. You want to limit the amount of mercury you eat because your body can’t get rid of it very quickly.
This means that no matter how healthy tuna is, you shouldn’t eat it with every meal. There’s some debate over how much tuna is safe to eat, and different kinds have different amounts of mercury. Further confusing the issue, there are two kinds of mercury, one of which is significantly safer for your body to ingest.
According to actual scientific studies (and not just fearmongering), your body can actually process quite a bit of mercury. As mercury in your diet goes up, mercury in your pee also goes up (as long as you stay within reasonable levels).
Your body needs time to adapt, however. In other words, if you want to eat a lot of tuna, introduce it gradually.
A Superfood To Enjoy
As long as it’s consumed in moderation, tuna offers lots of health benefits. It’s low in calories, rich in protein, and loaded with the nutrients your body needs to regulate sleep and maintain a healthy immune system.
Best of all, it’s tasty, sustainable, and cheap. You can prepare it dozens of ways and add a unique flavor to salads, burgers, and more. You’ll satisfy your taste buds and keep your body healthy at the same time.
The contents of this website are for educational purposes and are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The Nutrition Source does not recommend or endorse any products.