Love it, Like it, Hate it: Grab & Go Tuna Pouches & Cans

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With the Lenten season in full swing, tuna pouches and cans can make an easy grab & go lunch, or even dinner in a pinch.  But there can be a big difference between brands and varieties when it comes to calories, sodium, and especially mercury levels.  In today’s Love it, Like it, Hate it, Molly shares her top picks and worst bets!

  • Mercury is particularly a concern for young children & women of childbearing age, who are susceptible to mercury toxicity that can damage the brain, heart, kidneys, lungs, & immune system.
  • Two main types of canned/pouch tuna:  Chunk light (often skipjack) & chunk white (albacore). 
  • Canned white albacore tuna can have mercury levels almost 3x higher than canned light tuna.

EPA recommendations:

Canned white/albacore tuna:

  • Children under age 6:  up to one 3-ounce portion a month
  • Children ages 6–12: two 4.5-ounce portions a month
  • Adults, including pregnant women: up to 3/month (women 6 oz; men 8 oz portions)

Canned light tuna:

  • Children under age 6:  up to three 3-ounce portions a month
  • Children 6 and older + adults:  can safely consume one a week


 Chunk Light Tuna – in water (plain or seasoned; sodium is fairly comparable at 110-120 mg per ounce)

Chunk Light Tuna – in water, no salt added:  28 mg sodium per ounce

Wild-Caught Salmon – in water.  Lowest mercury option, good source of omega 3 fatty acids


Chunk Light Tuna, packed in oil. 

  • Still lower-mercury than chunk white tuna, but 2x the calories of water-packed tuna
  • 60 calories per ounce for oil-packed, compared to 30 calories per ounce for water-packed


Chunk White Tuna / White Tuna / Albacore Tuna

  • Calories, fat, & protein are similar to chunk light tuna
  • But mercury levels can be 3x higher than chunk light