When you think of tuna salad, what comes to mind? Do you have fond childhood memories of that simple 3-combo goodness of mayo, tuna, and white bread? Or maybe you’re having nightmares of soggy smelliness that stunk up the lunchroom and had you sitting alone in the corner?
Regardless of your memories of tuna, there are a lot of reasons to include this lean protein in your meal plan. You’re going to learn why you should consume this protein-packed, low- calorie, high-antioxidant food and also get a quick, tasty recipe for healthy tuna salad.
Health Benefits Of Tuna
Tuna is one of the most protein-dense foods you can eat. There are a number of different types, everything from the prized blue fin tuna, to yellow fin, albacore, and skipjack varieties. When it comes to canned tuna, it’s mostly going to be albacore or skipjack.
The nutritional content of each variety of tuna will differ slightly, but all tuna has very similar macronutrients – very high protein content, low fat, and zero carbs.
Not only is tuna a great choice because of that macronutrient breakdown, it also has the following beneficial nutrients:
1) Selenium, which is a major anti-oxidant that has been shown to fight cancer1 and improve overall health 2.
2) Omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to reduce chronic inflammation in the body and improve heart and brain health 3.
The problem with most canned tuna is that it’s bland and can taste a little fishy.
One quick fix is to use canned “albacore” and not the “chunk light” variety. Most “chunk light” will be skipjack, which is lower in quality and tends to have a “fishier” taste. Not only does the albacore variety taste better than “chunk light”, it also has a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids4
|Tuna Salad Only||Tuna Salad Wrap*||Tuna Salad Over Arugula|
With Goat Cheese
Healthy Tuna Salad Ingredients
|Albacore tuna||2 cans|
|Avocado||1 medium size|
|Red Onion||½ of medium size|
|Greek Yogurt||1 tbsp.*|
|Garlic powder||1 tsp.|
|Cayenne pepper||1/2 tsp.|
|Sea salt||1 tsp.|
|Lemon||Juice from ½ lemon|
Tuna Salad Recipe Instructions
Dice onions and scoop out avocado. Place aside.
Open tuna and drain excess water. This step is very important. Don’t skip this.
In a medium bowl, combine the diced onions, avocado, tuna, and optional Greek yogurt and mix together. Add spices and lemon juice. Mix again.
Enjoy on its own, as a wrap, or on a bed of arugula (photos below).
Tuna Salad On Arugula With Goat Cheese
Tuna Salad On Oat Flour Wrap
Whether you’re a tuna lover or a tuna hater, I’d love to hear what you think of this tasty, healthy variation. Or if you have your own healthy tuna salad recipe, please share in the comments below.
- Clark LC, Dalkin B, Krongrad A, et al. Decreased incidence of prostate cancer with selenium supplementation: results of a double-blind cancer prevention trial. Br J Urol. 1998;81(5):730-4. ↩
- Rayman MP. Selenium and human health. Lancet. 2012;379(9822):1256-68. ↩
- Wall R, Ross RP, Fitzgerald GF, Stanton C. Fatty acids from fish: the anti-inflammatory potential of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids. Nutr Rev. 2010;68(5):280-9. ↩
- Available at: https://www.seafoodhealthfacts.org/medical-professionals/description-of-omega-3s-and-their-role-in-human-health/
Transforming Tuna Into Tuna Salad
Tuna salad is a great way to transform bland canned tuna into a delicious versatile meal. The awesome recipe below is delicious by itself and is a great high-protein, low-carb meal. For a more complete meal, all you have to do is toss this tuna salad on top of a bed of greens, add some cheese, and dress with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
If a sandwich is more your style, that works too. Or a wrap can be a perfect middle-ground if you want more substance without all the bread.
This recipe works really well for any meal or even as a protein-powered snack.
I personally eat the low-carb arugula variation as a healthy lunch many times per week.
The best part about this tuna salad is that it’s simple, quick, and easy to prepare.
Healthy Tuna Salad Nutrition Facts
This recipe keeps it simple with just a few quality whole-food ingredients. Trust me, you can make a great tuna salad without the white bread or mayonnaise. This recipe uses avocado for creaminess, spices it up with cayenne pepper, and adds a splash of citrus for flavor. The result is a power-packed meal that is tasty, healthy, and takes less than 10-minutes to prepare. This recipe makes 2 servings (about 3-4oz each).
Here are the nutrition facts:
I like to add diced celery and carrot as well as a good squirt of spicy brown mustard, which also helps with texture.
Nice additions Aaron, I love the crunch factor of the celery and carrots. I will have to try the spicy brown mustard, thanks for your comment!
What’s your thought on mercury content? Isn’t chunk light a better bet?
My thoughts on mercury content with tuna is that the concern of mercury poisoning from eating fish is way overblown. Again, I’m not a doctor or a research scientist, but I’ve spent many many hours researching and looking into the data around fish, especially tuna, and it’s potential mercury toxicity effects. It turns out that there is only 1 legit study that linked eating fish to mercury poisoning – and it wasn’t even tuna – it was with whale meat.
The rationale behind eating fish as safe is based on the selenium amounts in fish and their ability to act as neutralizing effect on any mercury present in the fish. So long as the selenium to mercury ratio is positive (higher selenium than mercury), you should be fine. All variations of tuna have huge amounts of selenium, way more than any mercury. I also look to cultures like the Japanese that have been eating huge amounts of tuna without any negative effects.
BTW, you are correct – chunk light will most likely be skipjack tuna which has a higher level of selenium than albacore. I chose albacore based on taste.
Thanks for you comment, I hope this helps..
Great ideas. I like the olive oil and balsamic vinegar option. Will try it soon.
Thanks Louise, let me know how it goes!
My own version of mayo is this:
4 cups nonfat plain yogurt
1 cup apple cider vinegar
a glob of yellow mustard
any other spices preferred
I use this for salad dressing or spread on bread to make sandwiches. It has a little less than 100 calories per cup. One batch lasts me about a week, and I eat lots of salads.
Steven, that’s sounds like a solid mayo substitute. Thumbs up. Thanks for sharing!