Fact Checked

What Is the Quantity of Protein in Tuna?

J. Beam
J. Beam

Protein is an essential nutrient that is derived from foods like meat, fish, poultry, and dairy. Everyone needs protein in their diet, but consuming excess amounts of protein beyond what the body can use can result in fat. Lean protein, such as the protein found in fish and turkey, is typically considered to be better for you than the fattier proteins acquired from beef and pork. For example, the amounts of protein in tuna and beef may be equal in a comparative serving, but the saturated fat content is lower in tuna than beef.

As a comparison of the quantity and quality of protein in tuna versus beef, consider the following nutritional information. A three-ounce serving of light tuna canned in water provides a little over 21 grams (g) of protein and less than one gram of total fat. Comparatively, a three-ounce serving of a broiled ground beef sirloin patty contains right around 22 grams of protein and almost ten grams of total fat. Of course, the amount of protein in tuna and beef may vary slightly depending on the type of tuna and cut of beef, but essentially, they are very equal in the amounts of protein per serving they provide.

Tuna has as much protein as beef, but much less fat.
Tuna has as much protein as beef, but much less fat.

The high amount of protein in tuna and low fat content makes tuna an excellent part of a healthy diet. However, there are other health benefits to be acquired from eating tuna. Tuna is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, a nutrient that researchers believe is essential for the development and maintenance of a healthy brain and heart. With the exception of people with a seafood allergy, tuna can be consumed by all ages. The recommended consumption guideline for normal healthy people is eight to twelve ounces per week.

While there is plenty of protein in tuna, many people question the amount of mercury. It is true that larger ocean fish contain mercury, especially swordfish, king mackerel and shark, tuna has been deemed to have a lower than dangerous level of mercury per serving by the United States Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency. Due to the mercury content of seafood, pregnant women should not consume large ocean fish and should not consume more than the recommended amount of tuna.

The amount of protein in tuna and its relatively low cost per serving makes it an ideal meat choice. Canned and pouched tuna are well-suited to a variety of high-protein, low-fat meals. Tuna makes good sandwiches and is also an ideal stir-in for many pasta dishes. Tuna canned in water, rather than oil, will have less fat, but may lack infused flavoring that is desirable for some salads. It is important to choose tuna based on both nutritional goals and food preparation needs.

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Discussion Comments


@Chamnder - Thanks for the advice. Yeah, it's kind of unfortunate how due to man-made power plants and chemical facilities, our water has become so toxic and polluted. It's almost as if it's gotten to the point where it's impossible to eat seafood without getting a trace of mercury inside of you. I'll definitely be taking your advice, and I'll keep in mind that it's all about moderation.


@Viranty - Well first of all, you have to remember that (as the article states) a lot of seafood has mercury in it, not just tuna fish. Second, that's not to say you should avoid all seafood. Though I don't know how much mercury you'd have to ingest in order to become ill, just remember that it's all about moderation. Don't eat seafood all the time, but don't avoid it like the bubonic plague either, ha ha.


When I began reading this article, I was worried that it wouldn't bring up any issues related to mercury. However, I'm thankful that it did, although I wish it would have gone into a bit more detail. In fact, how much mercury does one have to consume in order to get sick? I love tuna fish, but I always eat it in moderation, because I want to avoid any sort of poisoning.

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    • Tuna has as much protein as beef, but much less fat.
      By: Kondor83
      Tuna has as much protein as beef, but much less fat.