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Answers from the BJC Experts

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Tuna in water and tuna in olive oil — which is healthier and why?

Fresh tuna has one percent fat per body weight, making it a favored choice for those on low-fat diets. However, the depth of the water and water temperature affects the fish's fat content, which can vary from catch to catch but also between different varieties of tuna.

For example, two cans of water-packed white tuna of equal size, even from the same company, can vary from one to five grams of fat per two-ounce serving. Due to this fat variation, it is actually possible for tuna packed in water to have more fat than tuna packed in oil. Amazing but true — and yet another reason to always check the label on every can of tuna you purchase.

To boost omega-3 fatty acids (famous for fighting heart disease), choose canned albacore, which often contains not only more omega-3 fatty acids than chunk light canned, but also more than even fresh tuna.

For those allergic to soy, know that most tuna packed in oil has added soybean oil. There is canned tuna packed in olive oil available in most markets, although it is usually more expensive. However, most canned tuna fans prefer the olive oil-packed tuna above all others for flavor. Luckily, olive oil is heart-healthy. The oil actually leeches out some of the cholesterol. Drain and gently rinse off the oil if you must.

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