Many people consider fish a healthy choice at mealtimes — what could be better than enjoying a sumptuous salmon fillet or some fresh trout? When we think of tuna, however, most people think of the canned variety — and what they don’t know is that eating it can actually be very unhealthy.
Here are 8 reasons why you might think twice about eating canned tunafish in the future…
1. High sodium content
Canned tunafish is particularly popular with athletes because of its high protein content which is beneficial for muscle growth. But a single can of tunafish can also contain up to 600 mg of sodium, which can cause high blood pressure and even strokes.
2. Absorption of heavy metals
Tuna are predators. That means they eat smaller fish, and in the process they end up consuming a lot of heavy metals, e.g. mercury, that have accumulated in the food chain. When humans eat tunafish, they are also eating these metals. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), even tiny amounts of mercury can damage the digestive system, kidneys, skin, nervous system and immune system. Too much mercury can also increase the risk of heart attacks by up to 70% and cause brain damage leading to concentration problems and other cognitive impairments. Although in most cases the concentration of mercury in fish is low enough not to be of concern, there are always exceptions.
3. Horrible fishing practices
Tuna are caught in massive nets which results in many of them dying a torturous death as they’re crushed together when the net is pulled in. Those that make it to the boat still alive are beaten into submission before being thrown into the freezer compartment. Smaller fish that can’t put up a fight are usually thrown straight into the freezer and die a slow and painful death as they freeze and suffocate.
4. Mass fish farming
The demand for fish continually increases worldwide, but at the same time fish populations are constantly decreasing. This situation has led to more fish farming with the farms getting bigger and bigger. On these farms, the tuna are kept in crowded conditions, fattened up, killed and sold.
5. Harmful chemicals
The world’s oceans are currently very polluted and full of toxic chemicals that fish consume passively. These chemicals include polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) and dioxins, which are carcinogenic substances. These days, they can often be found in the fatty tissue of many kinds of fish.
6. Risk of food poisoning
Eating fish can be dangerous. According to the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 75% of all cases of food poisoning worldwide are caused by the consumption of seafood. Here it’s important to keep in mind that the freshness and the preparation play a key role in this risk.
7. Tuna fishing kills dolphins
Tuna aren’t the only sea creatures that get caught in those huge nets — dolphins, sharks, and many other animals also end up dying a painful death due to tuna fishing.
8. Ocean pollution
The fishing industry is responsible for a lot of the world’s water pollution. The nets, pulleys and numerous other devices on fishing boats are made from plastics and metals which often end up in the water. This pollution is deadly for sea life, especially sea birds which often confuse plastic for food and end up tangled in it or choking on it.
As you can see, the catching and consuming of tunafish is not as harmless as you think and it’s actually part of a much bigger problem. The horrible deaths that the fish suffer and the health risks involved with eating fish apply to many other kinds of fish as well. Many people justify their fish consumption by claiming that they need the health benefits that come from consuming the omega-3 fatty acids, but there are other ways to include these in your diet: linseed, chia seeds, canola oil and walnut oil are all rich in this important nutrient.
But if you still want to enjoy some fish from time to time, make sure it comes from sustainable sources. The environment — and your body — will thank you