Are you a fan of canned tuna? Do you often reach for Chicken of the Sea brand when grocery shopping?
If so, you may be wondering if this popular brand of tuna contains mercury. The answer is yes, but the amount may surprise you.
While canned light tuna has less mercury than albacore tuna, it still has an above-average mercury content. In fact, it’s the biggest single source of methylmercury exposure in the American diet.
But don’t worry, there’s good news too. Tuna also contains selenium, which helps protect against mercury toxicity.
So, should you avoid Chicken of the Sea tuna altogether? Read on to find out more about the mercury content in canned tuna and how to make informed choices about your seafood consumption.
Does Chicken Of The Sea Tuna Have Mercury?
As mentioned earlier, Chicken of the Sea tuna does contain mercury. In fact, it’s one of the two major brands of canned light tuna in the US, accounting for 60 percent of samples tested.
The average mercury levels in Chicken of the Sea tuna were found to be 0.126 μg/g, which is higher than the overall average mercury level in the US seafood supply. This means that consuming Chicken of the Sea tuna can contribute to your overall mercury intake.
However, it’s important to note that not all cans of Chicken of the Sea tuna will have the same amount of mercury. The amount can vary from can to can, and some cans may have much higher levels than others.
Understanding Mercury In Tuna
Mercury is a naturally occurring element that can be found in the environment, including bodies of water where fish live. When fish consume small organisms that contain mercury, the mercury can accumulate in their bodies over time. This means that larger and older fish, such as tuna, can have higher levels of mercury than smaller and younger fish.
While tuna is a nutritious food that is rich in protein, healthy fats, and vitamins, it’s important to be aware of its mercury content. The FDA recommends that adults eat 3-5 ounces of fish 2-3 times a week to get enough omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial nutrients. However, regularly consuming fish with a mercury concentration greater than 0.3 ppm may increase blood levels of mercury and spur health issues.
Most species of tuna exceed this amount, including albacore and bigeye tuna, which are high in mercury and should be limited or avoided. On the other hand, skipjack and canned light tuna are relatively low in mercury and can be eaten as part of a healthy diet.
When it comes to purchasing canned tuna, it’s important to note that not all brands have the same amount of mercury. For example, Chicken of the Sea’s albacore had 10 times more mercury than its light tuna. On the other hand, Wild Planet’s albacore and skipjack tunas were very close to each other in terms of mercury levels.
It’s also important to remember that the amount of mercury in individual cans can vary, so it’s a good idea to check the label or contact the manufacturer for more information. Overall, understanding the mercury content in tuna can help you make informed decisions about your diet and limit your exposure to potential health risks.
The Mercury Content Of Chicken Of The Sea Tuna
According to the FDA, the average mercury level in canned light tuna is 0.118 parts per million, which is 37 percent higher than the overall average mercury level in US seafood supply. While Chicken of the Sea tuna has an average mercury level of 0.126 μg/g, one set of samples had much higher levels than average.
It’s worth noting that FDA has not done much testing of “minor” tuna brands, including brands imported from South and Central America. Some of these brands may have higher than average mercury levels. Therefore, it’s important to pay attention to the label and the origin of the tuna you’re consuming.
If you’re concerned about your mercury intake, it’s recommended to limit your consumption of canned light tuna, including Chicken of the Sea. Children under six can eat up to three 3-ounce portions per month, while older children and adults can safely eat it once a week. Alternatively, canned salmon is a better alternative as it’s low in contaminants and high in heart-healthy omega-3s.
The Benefits Of Selenium In Tuna
Despite the presence of mercury in tuna, it is still considered a healthy food to include in your diet. This is because tuna is also rich in selenium, an essential trace element that plays a crucial role in our body’s antioxidant system and immune function.
Selenium has been shown to have anti-cancer effects and is known to detoxify metals, including mercury. It has an extremely high binding attraction and strength with mercury, forming a biologically inactive compound, mercury selenide. This means that having an excess of selenium over mercury in your diet is important to avoid selenium deficiency and the toxic effects of mercury.
Fortunately, most tuna species, including bigeye, yellowfin, albacore, and skipjack, contain a healthy excess of selenium over the mercury content. In fact, a Hawaii Seafood Project study found that all tuna species sampled had more selenium than mercury. This means that eating tuna is more likely to protect against mercury toxicity than cause it.
Aside from being a good source of selenium, tuna is also rich in high-quality protein and omega-3 fatty acids. Consuming tuna can result in a lower risk of heart disease and stroke. The omega-3 fatty acids in tuna can also protect against Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, breast and prostate cancer, among other conditions.
It’s important to note that while consuming too much mercury can be harmful to your health, the benefits of selenium in tuna outweigh the risks associated with low levels of mercury. As long as you consume tuna in moderation and choose brands with lower levels of mercury, you can still enjoy the health benefits of this nutritious food.
How To Make Informed Choices About Tuna Consumption
When it comes to making informed choices about tuna consumption, there are several factors to consider. The first is the type of tuna you are consuming. Albacore or white tuna contains three times more mercury than canned light tuna, so it’s important to limit your intake of this variety. Canned light tuna is a better choice, as it is low in mercury and considered one of the best options for individuals who need to limit their exposure to mercury.
Another factor to consider is your age and any other sensitivities you may have. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, most adults should aim to eat at least 8 ounces, or 2 servings, of fish per week, which can include canned tuna. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommends selecting varieties of fish that are low in mercury for children ages 1–11 and individuals who are pregnant, trying to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
It’s also important to pay attention to serving sizes. For adults, 4 oz is considered 1 serving. For children, serving sizes vary based on age: 1 oz for children 1–3 years, 2 oz for children 4–7 years, 3 oz for children 8–10 years, and 4 oz for children 11 years and older.
Finally, it’s important to stay informed about any advisories issued by federal, state, and local authorities regarding specific types of fish that may be unsafe to eat. These advisories may apply to specific waterbodies or types of water and can be issued to the general public or specific populations, such as people who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Alternatives To Canned Tuna
If you’re concerned about the mercury levels in canned tuna or simply want to switch things up, there are plenty of alternatives to consider. Here are three options to try:
1. Smoked Trout: Canned smoked trout is a great substitute for canned tuna. It has a similar texture and can be mashed up with mayonnaise and lemon juice or flaked over a green salad. It’s especially good tossed with thinly sliced cabbage.
2. Canned Sardines: Sustainable and full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, sardines are one of the few fish we can and should be eating regularly. They have a strong flavor, so they may not be for everyone, but they can be mixed into salads, pasta dishes, or eaten on their own.
3. Canned Salmon: Canned salmon is lower in mercury than canned tuna and can be mixed into burgers, croquettes, pasta dishes, and quiche. It’s also a great source of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.