Dr. Thomas Dwan - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Thomas Dwan

Is Chicken Of The Sea Tuna Bad For You?

Also Known As: Canned tuna, Tuna fish



Short answer

While Chicken of the Sea tuna offers significant health benefits like high protein and omega-3 fatty acids content, concerns arise from mercury content, additives, and sustainability practices. Consuming light tuna, which has lower mercury levels, in moderation is key for minimizing health risks. Choosing canned tuna with minimal additives and paying attention to sustainable and ethical sourcing can further ensure health benefits while mitigating environmental and health concerns. Consumers should balance tuna intake with other protein sources and select products aligned with health and environmental standards.



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Long answer

Mercury Content and Your Health

One of the significant concerns when consuming tuna, including popular brands such as Chicken of the Sea, is the mercury content. Mercury is a heavy metal that, at high levels, can lead to serious health issues. The primary way humans are exposed to mercury is through the consumption of fish and shellfish, with tuna being a notable source. It's essential to understand the implications of mercury in tuna, how it affects your health, and ways to manage your intake.

Mercury enters our oceans and seas via industrial pollution, which then accumulates in fish and shellfish, especially those higher up in the food chain like tuna. Over time, this mercury can build up in our bodies, potentially leading to mercury poisoning. The symptoms of mercury poisoning include:

  • Neurological impairments, affecting coordination and the sensation in hands and feet
  • Visual and hearing impairment
  • Speech difficulties
  • Muscle weakness

Particularly at risk are pregnant women and young children. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advise these groups to limit their consumption of fish known to have high levels of mercury, including certain types of tuna. High mercury levels have been linked to developmental delays and brain damage in fetuses and young children.

The mercury content in tuna can vary significantly depending on the type of tuna and where it's caught. Chicken of the Sea sources various types of tuna, including light and albacore. Light tuna, generally sourced from skipjack, tends to have lower mercury levels compared to albacore or yellowfin, thus is a safer option for more frequent consumption. According to the FDA, it's recommended to eat 8 to 12 ounces of fish lower in mercury, such as light tuna, per week. For albacore tuna, which has higher mercury content, the recommendation drops to no more than 3 servings per month.

For those concerned about mercury intake but enjoy tuna, there are ways to manage and mitigate these concerns:

  • Vary your seafood choices to include fish with lower mercury content, such as salmon, shrimp, pollock, and catfish.
  • Limit the consumption of albacore tuna to the recommended amounts and opt for light tuna where possible.
  • Stay informed about advisories for fish caught in local waters, as mercury levels can vary.

In conclusion, while Chicken of the Sea tuna can be part of a balanced diet, it's crucial to be mindful of the mercury content, especially for vulnerable groups. By making informed choices and following recommended guidelines, consumers can enjoy the health benefits of tuna while minimizing risks associated with mercury exposure.

Nutritional Benefits of Tuna: Omega-3s and Protein

When evaluating the healthfulness of Chicken of the Sea Tuna, it's essential to delve into its nutritional composition, highlighting two key components: Omega-3 fatty acids and protein. Both are pivotal for maintaining and promoting overall health.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: Tuna, like Chicken of the Sea, is renowned for its omega-3 fatty acid content. These essential fats, particularly eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), play a crucial role in heart health by reducing inflammation, lowering blood pressure, and decreasing the risk of heart disease. A study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology emphasized the importance of omega-3s in reducing cardiac death risk. Including tuna in your diet can be a direct route to reaping these cardiovascular benefits.

Moreover, omega-3 fatty acids have been associated with improved brain health. Research underscores their potential in enhancing cognitive function, reducing depressive symptoms, and slowing age-related cognitive decline. This makes tuna an excellent dietary addition for both physical and mental wellness.

Protein: Protein is another cornerstone of tuna's nutritional profile. A serving of Chicken of the Sea Tuna provides a substantial amount, making it an excellent source for supporting muscle repair, growth, and general body maintenance. Protein is also known for its satiety-increasing property, which can aid in weight management by keeping hunger at bay and reducing overall calorie intake.

The high-quality protein in tuna is complete, containing all nine essential amino acids required for bodily function. This is particularly beneficial for individuals pursuing fitness goals, vegetarians who include fish in their diet, and anyone looking to enhance their protein intake without significantly increasing calories or consuming large amounts of red meat.

In sum, Chicken of the Sea Tuna offers noteworthy benefits due to its omega-3 fatty acid and protein content. Incorporating tuna into a balanced diet can contribute to heart health, cognitive function, muscle maintenance, and weight management, underlining tuna's role as a nutrient-dense food choice.

Additives and Preservatives in Canned Tuna

The landscape of canned tuna, including popular brands like Chicken of the Sea, often raises concerns regarding the additives and preservatives used to maintain freshness, taste, and shelf-life. Understanding these ingredients is essential for making informed dietary choices. While canned tuna can be a convenient and nutritious option, providing a good source of protein, omega-3 fatty acids, and essential nutrients like Vitamin D, B12, and selenium, the presence of certain additives and preservatives may pose health risks over time.

Common Additives and Preservatives:

  • Vegetable Broth: Some brands add vegetable broth for flavor, which may contain MSG (monosodium glutamate) or other additives. Though MSG is FDA-approved, some individuals report sensitivity to it, which can cause headaches, sweating, facial pressure, numbness, and other symptoms.
  • Soy: Soy is often added in the form of soy protein isolate or textured vegetable protein to retain the moisture in canned tuna. While soy is generally considered safe, it can be a concern for those with soy allergies or sensitivities.
  • Salt: High sodium content is a common issue in canned foods, including tuna, where salt is added as a preservative. Excessive sodium intake is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. It's important to look for low-sodium or "no salt added" options.
  • Pyrophosphate: This additive is used to prevent the formation of crystals on the fish. While deemed safe by regulatory agencies, some health advocates question the long-term impacts of consuming phosphates and their role in kidney health and osteoporosis.

When choosing canned tuna, opting for versions with minimal additives is advisable. Look for labels indicating "no added broth," "no MSG," or "no soy." Additionally, checking the sodium content and selecting options with reduced sodium can help mitigate some of the health risks associated with these additives.

Expert Opinions on Additives:

Nutritional experts often emphasize the importance of reading labels carefully. According to a review published in The Journal of Food Science and Technology, the cumulative effect of consuming food additives over time can contribute to health issues, such as allergic reactions, digestive disorders, and possibly even long-term diseases like cancer, making it crucial for consumers to be aware of what's in their food.

In summary, while canned tuna like Chicken of the Sea offers nutritional benefits, paying close attention to the additives and preservatives on the label can help ensure that you're making the healthiest choice for your diet. Choosing products with fewer and more natural ingredients aligns with a health-conscious approach to eating, safeguarding against potential risks associated with certain chemical additives.

Sustainable Fishing Practices and Ethical Considerations

When discussing the health implications of consuming any seafood product, including Chicken of the Sea Tuna, it is essential to consider beyond the nutritional profile—the impact of its sourcing on the environment and ethical considerations comes into play. Sustainable fishing practices ensure that seafood is caught in ways that consider the long-term vitality of the species and the well-being of the oceans, while ethical considerations involve the treatment of workers and the fairness of trade practices.

Chicken of the Sea has reportedly taken steps towards improving sustainability and ethical practices within their supply chains. The company has made commitments to sourcing from fisheries that employ methods designed to minimize environmental impact. These efforts include the use of fishing techniques that reduce by-catch (the capture of non-target species) and avoid overfishing by adhering to quotas and regulations designed to maintain fish populations at healthy levels.

Key Components of Sustainable and Ethical Fishing Practices:

  • Use of Pole-and-line and Handline fishing methods, which are selective and have a minimal by-catch compared to large-scale net fishing.
  • Support for Fishery Improvement Projects (FIPs) that seek to enhance the sustainability of fish stocks and the ecosystems they inhabit.
  • Engagement with third-party certification bodies like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) which assess fisheries based on their sustainability standards.
  • Transparency in supply chains, including traceability initiatives that allow consumers to track the journey of their tuna from catch to can.
  • Implementation of social responsibility initiatives to ensure fair treatment and safe working conditions for fishermen and workers throughout the supply chain.

It is crucial for consumers to be aware that while initiatives and certifications indicate efforts towards sustainability and ethical fishing, the impact of these practices is a subject of ongoing environmental and social research. Studies have highlighted the complexity of the seafood supply chain and the challenges in ensuring the sustainability and ethical integrity of seafood products.

For instance, a report by the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) outlines the importance of robust, enforceable policies and practices to prevent overfishing and protect marine biodiversity, as well as the need for industry transparency to tackle issues of illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Furthermore, organizations like the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) emphasize the significance of conservation programs and the adoption of eco-friendly fishing technologies to mitigate the industry's impact on the marine environment.

When choosing seafood products, consumers are encouraged to look for labels and certifications that reflect sustainable and ethical practices. This not only supports efforts to preserve marine ecosystems and species for future generations but also promotes social justice within the global seafood industry.

In summary, while Chicken of the Sea Tuna has made strides towards sustainability and ethical sourcing, understanding the broader implications of these efforts requires consumers to consider the certifications, the company's transparent reporting, and the ongoing dialogue between seafood companies, conservationists, and human rights organizations. As the demand for responsible seafood continues to grow, the role of informed consumers championing sustainability and ethical considerations becomes increasingly important.

Comparing Chicken of the Sea with Other Tuna Brands

When selecting the best tuna for your health, understanding how different brands stack up against each other is vital. Chicken of the Sea has been a household name for decades, known for its wide variety of seafood products, including tuna. However, how does it compare to other popular tuna brands in terms of nutritional content, sustainability practices, and potential contaminants? Let's dive into the details.

Nutritional Comparison

To begin with, the nutritional content of tuna can vary significantly based on whether it's packed in water or oil, and Chicken of the Sea is no exception. Generally, tuna packed in water is a healthier option as it retains more omega-3 fatty acids and has fewer calories. Chicken of the Sea offers both varieties, similar to other leading brands such as Starkist and Bumble Bee. A can of Chicken of the Sea light tuna in water, for instance, typically contains:

  • Calories: 50
  • Protein: 11g
  • Fat: 0.5g
  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids: 0.2-0.5g

Comparatively, Starkist and Bumble Bee offer similar nutritional profiles for their light tuna in water. It’s essential to read the label for specific details, as the omega-3 content can vary.

Sustainability Practices

Sustainability is another critical factor to consider. Chicken of the Sea claims to practice responsible fishing methods aimed at preserving marine life and ecosystems. They are a founding member of the International Seafood Sustainability Foundation (ISSF) and have policies targeting bycatch reduction and habitat protection. Comparatively, other brands like Starkist and Bumble Bee also tout their commitment to sustainable fishing, adhering to guidelines set by various environmental conservation organizations. When choosing a brand, look for certifications from Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or the Earth Island Institute, which indicate higher standards of sustainability.

Potential Contaminants

Mercury contamination is a concern when consuming tuna. The FDA advises limiting consumption of certain types of fish due to mercury levels, especially for pregnant women and young children. Light tuna, like that offered by Chicken of the Sea, is generally considered to have lower mercury levels compared to albacore (white) tuna. However, mercury levels can still vary based on where the tuna was caught and its size. All major brands, including Chicken of the Sea, test for mercury and comply with FDA regulations. Independent testing from organizations like Consumer Reports can provide additional insights into which brands may have lower mercury levels on average.

In conclusion, while Chicken of the Sea offers nutritious, sustainable tuna options, closely comparing nutritional labels, sustainability certifications, and mercury levels with other brands like Starkist and Bumble Bee can guide you toward making the healthiest choice for your needs. As always, incorporating a variety of protein sources in your diet is recommended to ensure you’re getting a broad spectrum of nutrients while minimizing potential risks associated with consuming too much of any single type of food.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, vegetarians can obtain Omega-3 fatty acids from flaxseeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts, and algae-based supplements. These plant-based sources primarily provide alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which the body can partially convert to EPA and DHA, the types of Omega-3 found in fish.

Yes, tuna can be an excellent part of a weight management diet due to its high protein content, which promotes satiety and helps in muscle maintenance. Opting for tuna packed in water can minimize calorie intake while still providing a good source of protein and Omega-3 fatty acids.

Consumers can look for certifications from reputable organizations like the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or Earth Island Institute on tuna packaging. These labels indicate adherence to sustainable fishing and ethical labor practices. Researching the brand's policies and transparency reports on their website can also provide insights into their commitment to sustainability and ethics.

Pregnant women are advised to limit their consumption of high-mercury fish, including certain types of tuna, due to the risk of fetal brain development disorders. Mercury can cross the placenta, potentially leading to developmental delays and brain damage in fetuses. Opting for low-mercury fish and adhering to serving recommendations can help mitigate these risks.

Ask a question about Chicken Of The Sea Tuna and our team will publish the answer as soon as possible.

Possible short-term side effects

  • neurological impairments
  • visual and hearing impairment
  • speech difficulties
  • muscle weakness

Possible long-term side effects

  • developmental delays in fetuses and young children
  • brain damage in fetuses and young children
  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • kidney health issues
  • osteoporosis
  • allergic reactions
  • digestive disorders
  • long-term diseases like cancer

Ingredients to be aware of

  • mercury
  • msg (monosodium glutamate)
  • soy
  • salt
  • pyrophosphate


  • reduced inflammation
  • lowered blood pressure
  • decreased risk of heart disease
  • improved brain health
  • cognitive function enhancement
  • reduced depressive symptoms
  • slowing age-related cognitive decline
  • muscle repair
  • growth and general body maintenance
  • weight management
  • satiety increase
  • complete high-quality protein source

Healthier alternatives

  • salmon
  • shrimp
  • pollock
  • catfish
  • low-sodium or no salt added canned tuna
  • canned tuna with no added broth, msg, or soy

Our Wellness Pick (what is this?)

Wild Planet Tuna

  • No added salt
  • Sustainably caught
  • Non-GMO
  • Kosher certified
  • Wild-caught albacore
Learn More!

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 06-11-2024

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by Diane Saleem
Published on: 06-11-2024

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