Doctors, nutritionists, dietitians and other healthcare professionals are extolling the virtues of protein. An essential part of our diet at every age, protein helps burn fat, build muscle, bolster the immune system and acts as the building blocks for bones, skin and blood. Tuna is a great source of protein and Omega 3s.
But not all protein is created equal. Where your tuna comes from is as important as how much you consume. Five ounces of tuna has 13 grams of healthful, high quality protein. But if it’s sourced from fisheries that don’t adhere to sustainable practices, then it’s doing more harm than good.
Some Methods are Better Than Others
While there are many methods of fishing, some techniques are much better at catching just the intended species. Other methods trap unintended species as well, resulting in injury and death to many sea creatures, some of which are already endangered. This is referred to as “by-catch.”
There are only two acceptable and sustainable fishing methods: Trawl Fishing and Pole and Troll Fishing.
In the albacore fishery, trawlers attach ten to 20 lured or baited fishing lines to the vessel’s outriggers and trail them behind the boat. As an albacore is hooked, it is immediately removed from the water and prepared for freezing.
Pole and Troll
This practice attracts schools of tuna to the side of the boat by throwing live bait overboard. This creates a “feeding frenzy” and albacore are hauled out of the water, one-by-one, using pole and line. Only smaller, juvenile tuna are caught this way, as they tend to swim near the surface.
“Troll-caught albacore” always refers to the younger, Omega 3 rich tuna that are also demonstrably lower in mercury due to fewer years of feeding in the food chain. There is virtually no by-catch (<0.5%) associated with the trolling or pole and line techniques, a fact worth remembering when you buy.
Nutritionally Potent Omega 3s
It’s important to also look for tuna that’s cooked in its own juices, rather than being twice cooked. Once-cooked tuna packed in its own juices contains all of the tuna’s natural heart-healthy Omega 3s. A two-ounce serving of once-cooked tuna contains about 140% of the American Heart Association’s recommended daily value of Omega 3s. Brands of tuna that are packed in water are devoid of nutrition, calories and the natural flavor that these oils provide.
The Wild Way
A 2014 ASMI Survey confirms that consumers prefer wild seafood over farmed by 3 to 1, while environmental sustainability has been named the #1 2016 culinary trend and is expected to be for the next ten years, according to the National Restaurant Association.
Check out this Greenpeace article for rankings on companies that are sourcing sustainably and responsibly caught tuna.
Operating as responsible stewards and promoting an environmentally sensitive way of life will serve to boost our planet’s natural food production output and its ability to sustain harvesting.