A good old-fashioned tuna fish sandwich is a favorite and nutritious food the world over. Canned tuna is the largest selling seafood in the United States. Because tuna fish is a favorite family food, here are some fish facts you should know about what’s in the can.*
Canned tuna may contain one or several kinds of tuna, such as albacore, blue fin, yellow fin, and skip jack. These vary considerably in texture and flavor. Albacore, the most expensive, is the only one that can be labeled “white” under federal regulations. What you see on the label is not always what you get in the can. Government regulations allow canned tuna to contain up to eighteen percent other stuff, such as casein and soy proteins, and sometimes sulfites. The labels on tuna fish cans don’t list the amount of omega 3 fatty acids in the tuna, which is unfortunate since this is one of the reasons you’re eating tuna in the first place. Among popular coldwater fish, it ranks just below salmon in omega 3 fatty acid content. There are several reasons for this omission. The tuna fish inside the can may be a mixture of tuna of various quality, making it impossible to determine the omega 3 content. Also, some tuna is precooked and bleached nice and white before canning to remove the oil that makes it spoil faster. The fish is then packed in vegetable oil or water. The result of this process is a loss of omega 3 fatty acids. Some specialty tunas are packed in their own oils and contain omega 3 fatty acids.
The fresher, the better. If it smells fishy, it will probably taste fishy. The fishier a fish tastes or smells, the less fresh it is. The smell is due to a chemical called trimethylamine, which is produced as the fish begins to spoil. Also, the mushier the fish feels, the older it is. Fresh fish should have a meaty texture and easily flake after a brief cooking. Unless you live near the source, you may find that the freshest fish you can buy is fish that has been shipped frozen. If you’re buying fresh fish, plan on cooking it the same day you buy it.
Fixing fish. Baking or poaching fish preserves most of the omega-3 fatty acids. Frying fish in vegetable oils high in omega-6’s decreases the potency of the omega 3 in the fish.