While the consumption of this canned fish accounts for more North Americans eating this it than any other type, it doesn't compare to the wonderfully firm, dense and meaty flavor and texture of fresh caught.
Both canned and fresh are available throughout the year.
December is the time to get the fresh Hawaiian variety.
This super seafood is found in the warm water areas of the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans as well as the Mediterranean Sea.
And while the fresh caught variety has been enjoyed by coastal populations throughout history, the smoked and pickled variety has been widely consumed since ancient times.
Numerous Health Benefits
Tuna-fish are a truly nutrient-dense food.
An excellent source of high quality protein, these fish are rich in a variety of important nutrients including the minerals selenium, magnesium, and potassium; the B-vitamins niacin, B1 and B6; and perhaps most important, the beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids are so named because they're essential for our health but cannot be made by the body; they must therefore be obtained from foods.
Cold-water fish like these are a rich source of the omega-3 essential fats, a form of essential fatty acids in which the standard American diet is sorely deficient.
Just Two Servings of Omega-3-rich Fish a Week Can Lower Triglycerides
Triglycerides are a form in which fat is carried in your bloodstream.
In normal amounts, triglycerides are important for good health because they serve as a major source of energy.
High levels of triglycerides, however, are associated with high total cholesterol, high LDL (bad) cholesterol and low HDL (good) cholesterol), and therefore, with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
A recent study showed that eating fish lowers the risk of certain types of strokes.
The study, which involved almost 80,000 nurses during a 15-year period revealed that those women who ate fish 2 to 4 times per week had a 27% reduced risk of stroke compared to women who ate fish one a month.
Eating fish five or more times per week reduced the risk of certain strokes 52%.
Omega-3 Fat Reduces Inflammation
A recently identified lipid (fat) product our bodies make from EPA, called resolvins, helps explain how fish oils' provide their anti-inflammatory effects on our joints and improve blood flow.
Resolvins, which have been shown to reduce inflammation in animal studies, are made from EPA by our cellular enzymes and work by inhibiting the production and regulating the migration of inflammatory cells and chemicals to sites of inflammation.
Unlike anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin, ibuprofen and the COX-2 inhibitors, the resolvins our bodies produce from EPA do not have negative side effects on our gastrointestinal or cardiovascular systems.
Protection against Sunburn
Another benefit of omega-3s anti-inflammatory effects may be their ability to protect our skin against sunburn, and possibly, skin cancer.
Although our increased susceptibility to skin cancer is usually blamed on damage to the ozone layer, dietary changes over the last 100 years, which have resulted in excessive consumption of omega-6 fatty acids and insufficient consumption of omega-3 fats, may also be causing human skin to be more vulnerable to damage from sunlight.
May Help Reduce Hostility and Protect Hearts
Feeling really grumpy?
Eating more cold water fish such as salmon, tuna, or sardines may help.
A study published in the January 2004 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found a statistically significant relationship between consuming fish rich in omega-3 fats and a lower hostility score in 3581 young urban white and black adults.
Those with the highest intake of omega 3 fats had only a 10% likelihood of being among those with the highest hostility scores.
Eating any fish rich in omega 3 fats compared to eating no omega-3-rich fish was also found to drop subjects' chances of being hostile by 12%.
Fatty Fish Highly Protective against Kidney Cancer
Consumption of fatty fish offers significant protection against renal cell carcinoma, the most common form of kidney cancer,
Fatty Fish Also Protective against Colon Cancer
A diet rich in the omega-3 fats found in cold water fish, greatly reduces risk of colorectal cancer.
Reduce Risk of Macular Degeneration
A diet high in omega-3 essential fatty acids, especially from fish such as this super seafood, offer significant protection against both early and late age-related macular degeneration
While the canned variety is a delicious and nutritious food, if you have never tried it fresh, you've been missing out on an even healthier culinary treat since the fresh variety retains more of its beneficial omega-3 fats than canned.
This super seafood is firm and dense and has the meatiest flavor and texture of any fish.
There are several varieties, including Bluefish, Yellowfin and albacore.
The Bluefish and Yellowfin are deep red in color, while albacore is pale pink.
Oftentimes, it will be streaked with dark brown flesh that has a stronger and more intense flavor.
How to Select and Store
Tuna is sold in many different forms.
It's available fresh as steaks, fillets or pieces but is probably best known in its canned form.
Just as with any seafood, it's best to purchase fresh from a store that has a good reputation for having a frequent supply of fresh fish.
Fresh whole tuna should be displayed buried in ice, while fillets and steaks should be placed on top of the ice.
Try to avoid purchasing that which has dry or brown spots.
Smell is a good indicator of freshness.
The canned type is available either solid or in chunks and is packaged in oil, broth or water.
Although that which is packed in oil is usually the moistest, it also has the highest fat content and the oils in which it's packed are high in omega-6 fats.
Since omega-6s and omega-3s compete for the same enzymes that activate them for use in the body and most North Americans already consume too many omega-6 fats in comparison to omega-3s, it's best to purchase tuna packed in water or broth.
Often though, canned fish doesn't distinguish which specific species was used except to note that it is either light (Bluefin or Yellowfin) or white (usually albacore).
When storing all types of fresh seafood, including this fish, it's important to keep them cold since fish spoils quickly and is very sensitive to temperature.
Therefore, after purchasing this or other fish, refrigerate as soon as possible.
To ensure maximum freshness and quality, it's important to use special storage methods to create the optimal temperature for holding the fish.
One of the easiest ways to do this is to place the fish, which has been well wrapped, in a baking dish filled with ice.
The baking dish and fish should then be placed on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, which is its coolest area.
Replenish the ice one or two times per day.
The length of time that tuna can stay fresh stored this way depends upon how fresh it is, i.e. when it was caught.
Fish that was caught the day before you purchased it can be stored for about four days, while fish that was caught the week before can only be stored for about one or two days.
You can extend the shelf life of this particular super seafood by freezing it.
To do so, wrap it well in plastic and place it in the coldest part of the freezer where it'll keep for about two to three weeks.
Tips for Preparation:
After you unwrap your fish, rinse it under cool running water, then pat dry before cooking.
A Few Quick Serving Ideas:
Tuna is a featured ingredient in the classic French dish, Salad Nicoise, which pairs this fish with steamed green beans and potatoes.
The sky's the limit when making tuna salad since so many different ingredients nicely complement the mild flavor.
Some of our favorite tuna salad ingredients include olives, chili peppers, leeks, fennel and walnuts.
Try using fresh lemon juice, olive oil, and a little mustard for a healthier way to make a tuna sandwich instead of mayonnaise.
Stovetop sear a tuna steak and add it to a salad of mixed greens and vegetables.
For an Asian-inspired meal with a hot streak, lightly brush a tuna steak with Wasabi and soy sauce and quickly broil.
This super seafood is an excellent source of niacin, selenium, and protein.
It's also a very good source of vitamin-B6 and thiamin.
In addition, it's a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, phosphorus, potassium and magnesium.
So, now that you're an expert on this super seafood, if you're wondering what to have for dinner this evening, might we suggest...
Miso Glazed Seared Tuna with Fresh Herb Salad
You've probably seen a version of this recipe on upscale restaurant menus, but it's easy to make at home if you buy "sushi quality" tuna from your fishmonger.
The fish should be glistening and ruby red and shouldn't smell fishy.
The miso glaze takes just minutes to whip up in the food processor and can be made two days in advance.
Lemongrass, miso and mirin can be found in better supermarkets or Asian food markets.
We really enjoy this recipe!
Makes 4 Servings
1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced into slivers
4 (5 to 6 oz.) fish steaks
1 whole garlic clove, peeled
3 scallions, thinly sliced, green part only
1-inch piece lemongrass cut from the tender bottom, or 2 Tbs. lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/2 c. mixed fresh herbs or baby greens (chervil, parsley, thyme, tarragon, mint, arugula)
3/4 c. light miso paste
1 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
1 Tbs. lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1/3 c. rice wine vinegar or mirin
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste
2 Tbs. light soy sauce
1. In a food processor, combine the ginger, garlic and lemongrass and process until finely minced.
Scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula if needed.
Add the miso, sesame seeds, vinegar, soy and 1 Tbs. water.
Pulse several times until almost smooth.
Transfer to a bowl. (If you like, this can be made 2 days in advance.)
2. Heat the broiler to high.
Line a broiler rack with foil and place the tuna steaks on the foil.
Using a pastry brush, coat the tops of the tuna steaks with some of the miso mixture.
Place the broiler rack 6 inches from the heat source and broil until the miso is deep golden brown and begins to bubble, about 3 minutes.
Turn the tuna and brush again with the miso and continue cooking for 3 minutes for rare, 4-5 minutes for medium.
Remove and let sit for 10 minutes before serving or slicing.
3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the scallions, herbs, lemon juice and olive oil and toss until thoroughly coated.
Season with salt and pepper.
4. Scatter a handful of the greens on each plate or a platter.
Place the tuna steak on top and garnish with remaining herb salad and sesame seeds.
We're sure you'll enjoy!Tweet
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