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Is canned tuna healthier than salmon?

Cans of fish

Canned tuna and salmon are convenient and nutritious pantry staples, but is one healthier than the other?  Healthy Food Guide dietitian Caroline Trickey finds out.

Oily fish is an important part of a healthy Mediterranean-style diet, providing essential omega-3 fatty acids for brain and heart health, calcium for stronger bones and satisfying protein to keep you full for longer and help build and maintain muscle.

Using tinned tuna and salmon is a cheaper way to include this important food in your diet, so we compared them to see which option gives you the biggest nutrient bang for your buck.

Tinned tuna (per 100g in water) vs tinned salmon (per 100g in water)

Calories/kilojoules

Tuna 518kJ
Red salmon 702kJ
Pink salmon 613kJ

Protein

Tuna 25g
Red salmon 22g
Pink salmon 22g

Fat (total)

Tuna 2.6g
Red salmon 8.9g
Pink salmon 6.5g

Fat (saturated)

Tuna 0.9g
Red salmon 2.3g
Pink salmon 1.8g

Omega–3 fats

Tuna 0.8g
Red salmon 1.6g
Pink salmon 1.5g

Calcium

Tuna 12mg
Red salmon 225mg
Pink salmon 310mg

Iron

Tuna 1.3mg
Red salmon 1.2mg
Pink salmon 1.0mg

Flavoured vs plain

Is it okay to choose flavoured tins of tuna and salmon? Yes! While it‘s true the flavoured versions add extra sodium and oil, they can help keep tinned fish interesting.

The bottom line

Overall, salmon offers higher levels of brain-boosting omega-3 fats, and much higher levels of bone-strengthening calcium. While tuna contains less of these, it’s still a good source of omega-3 fats and an excellent source of hunger-busting protein.

First published: Dec 2020

Article sources and references

  • Front Aging Neurosci. 2020; 12: 76. Published online 2020 Mar 20. doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2020.00076.Fish Intake May Affect Brain Structure and Improve Cognitive Ability in Healthy People. Keisuke Kokubun, Kiyotaka Nemoto and Yoshinori Yamakawa.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7103640/
  • Soumia Peter, Sandeep Chopra, and Jubbin J. Jacob. A fish a day, keeps the cardiologist. Indian J Endocrinol Metab. 2013 May-Jun; 17(3): 422–429. doi: 10.4103/2230-8210.111630 away! – A review of the effect of omega-3 fatty acids in the cardiovascular system
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3712371/
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