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.
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.