d(Health Secrets) Looking to stretch food dollars while providing your family with the highest level of nutrition? Look no farther than tuna, a food that provides the highest quality protein at a price that has barely budged in the past 50 years. Mildly flavored, firm, meaty and versatile tuna is chocked full of the nutrients we need most, such as magnesium, potassium, B vitamins, and omega 3 fatty acids.
In fact, eating tuna just twice a week can raise your level of omega 3 fatty acids just as effectively as taking taking omega 3 supplements. Omega 3s help normalize heart rhythms, prevent heart attack by keeping arteries free of blood clots, improve the HDL to LDL cholesterol ratio, and keep inflammation in check. And you don’t have to wait long to get these benefits. A study published in the journal Chest showed that heart function improved in as little as two weeks once consumption of omega 3s was increased.
A twice weekly serving of tuna can even normalize high triglyceride levels associated with cardiovascular disease. Elevated triglycerides is said to be one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases risk of diabetes and stoke along with heart disease.
Eating tuna helps prevent and control high blood pressure. In a large study published in Hypertension, participants with a high intake of omega 3s had systolic and diastolic blood pressure readings significantly lower than the control group in all categories, but the benefits were greatest in those who had not yet developed high blood pressure.
Deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism is reduced by 21-53 percent by the intake of omega 3s found in tuna, according to a study published in Circulation.
Eating tuna and other fish high in omega 3s can also:
- lower circulating lipids
- decrease platelet aggregation
- inhibit thickening of arteries
- increase nitric oxide to relax and dilate arteries
- reduce production of inflammatory cytokines
Eating tuna and other fatty fish such as salmon helps prevent obesity and improve insulin response. This is because omega 3s found in these fish stimulate secretion of the hormone leptin that tells the body when it is time to stop eating.
For children, eating a high level of omega 3s is associated with reduced risk of asthma and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder(ADHD). It is known to protect skin against sunburn and the possible eventuality of skin cancer.
The hostility and irritability of teenagers is lessened by eating tuna and other cold water fatty fish. A study found that omega 3s lowered hostility in young urban white and black adults. Those with the highest intakes had only a 10 percent likelihood of high hostility.
Eating tuna promotes detoxification because of its high selenium content, a necessary component of glutathione, one of the body’s most important internally produced antioxidants. Glutathione is critical for health of the liver, the organ responsible for body detoxification. Selenium has been found highly effective at binding and eliminating mercury found in tuna and other fish. This makes the eating of fish with ratios of selenium equal to mercury content a safe thing to do. Many ocean fish meet this criteria.
University of North Dakota researchers Laura J. Raymond, PhD and Nicolas VC Ralston, PhD, have studied the selenium-mercury connection extensively. They have concluded that measuring the amount of mercury present in the environment or in a food source provides inadequate information about health risks if the protective effects of selenium are not also considered. They note that selenium influences the transport, biogeochemical exposure, bioavailability, toxicological consequences and remediation of mercury. They have cited numerous studies, including several of their own, that show selenium protects against mercury exposure.
A team of scientists at Hacettepe University in Turkey also researched the selenium-mercury connection. They concluded that dietary selenium exerts protective effects against mercury toxicity. Once mercury binds with selenium, it is no longer free to bind with anything else, such as human tissue.
Evidence is in that eating even small amounts of tuna and other fish protects against ovarian and digestive cancers. In a large study published in the International Journal of Cancer, fish eaters had less ovarian cancer and less cancers of the pancreas, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, colon and rectum. Other research has shown that breast cancer cell growth rates drop when treated with omega 3 fats from fish.
Here is what else eating tuna can do for you:
- lower risk of leukemia, myeloma, and non Hodgkins lymphoma
- protect against kidney cancer
- reduce risk of macular degeneration
- help dry eyes
- protect against mental decline and Alzheimer’s
- improve mood and reduce depression
Canned or fresh?
Canned tuna is the big bargain! Great tasting premium protein and its array of benefits can be had for very low cost. However with canned tuna there are two considerations:
1. Conventional tuna such as sold under the Starkist, Chicken of the Sea, or conventional store brand labels is packed in broth that contains monosodium glutamate (MSG), a powerful excitotoxin. MSG actually kills off brain cells and should be avoided.
2. The bisphenol A (BPA) content of the liner used in the can mimic estrogen and can disrupt hormone balance, especially in men.
The way around the first issue is to avoid the big brand name canners and buy a brand such as Trader Joe’s which is packed simply in water. Read the label to be sure before you buy. There is no way around the second concern unless you can find tuna in a pouch with no MSG. However tuna is not corrosive as is tomatoes for instance, so leaching from the can liner will be minimal.
Varieties of tuna include yellowfin, albacore, tongol and skipjack. Bluefin tuna is now an endangered species due to being overfished.
If you are buying fresh tuna, smell is a good indicator of freshness, so try not to buy prepackaged fresh tuna. When your fresh fish has been wrapped, smell it through the paper wrapping and do not buy it if it has a strong fishy odor. Strong odor means the omega 3 fats have become rancid and the fish should not be eaten. When you get fresh fish home, line a baking dish with ice and place the wrapped fish in the dish and store on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Replace the ice once or twice a day until you are ready to cook it. You can freeze fish in the coldest part of your freezer for two to three weeks.
Try Pan Seared Tuna with Lime Pepper Crust. It’s delicious! For lunch, try succulent Salade Nicoise with canned tuna. (recipes below)
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