Carbs and Calories in Tuna: Is Tuna Keto Friendly?


is tuna keto

Tuna is a popular saltwater fish that comes in a several varieties, such as blue fin, yellow fin, and bullet tuna.  Not only is tuna virtually carb-free, it is also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which makes this fish a Keto superstar! 

Omegas are essential dietary fats that actually lower triglyceride levels and help you maintain healthy HDL cholesterol levels. But that’s one of the many health benefits this flavorful fish has to offer!

Tuna contains no sugar, so it won’t throw your body out of ketosis.  What’s more, it is a significant source of protein that helps keep you feeling fuller for longer periods of time. 

If you’re a fan of sushi, you’re probably a fan of tuna’s distinct flavour.  But sushi isn’t the only way to enjoy tuna…  Canned tuna is a cheaper alternative to the fresh fish and is extremely versatile.  It can be added to your salads, sandwiches and casseroles to support a healthy, low carb lifestyle. 

Find out about all the great ways you can include tuna to your keto diet, along with a delicious recipe for tuna fish cakes, later in this article…

How Many Carbs are in Tuna?

Both canned and fresh tuna is carb-free.  Tuna contains 0 grams of carbs, as long as it isn’t breaded or dipped in batter before it is cooked. 

How Many Calories are in Tuna?

There are only 60 calories in a half can of tuna.  A full can contains 120 calories.

A 100 gram serving of raw, wild bluefin tuna contains 144 calories. If you cook fresh tuna using oil, you will need to account for the calories in the oil as well (100 calories per tablespoon).

Nutrition Facts

Serving size:  ½ can drained tuna Amount per serving % Daily Value
Calories 60  
Total Fat 0.5 grams 1%
Saturated Fat 0.2 grams
Trans Fat 0 grams
Saturated fat 0 grams 1%
Omega-6 Polyunsaturates 0.1 grams
Omega-3 Polyunsaturates 0.2 grams
Monounsaturates 0.1 grams
Carbohydrate 0 grams 0%
Protein 14 grams
Cholesterol 20 milligrams
Sodium 140 milligrams 6%
Potassium 125 milligrams 3%
Vitamin D 1.5 micrograms 8%
Iron 0.3 micrograms 2%

Why is Fresh Tuna Fish So Expensive?

tuna calories

Fresh tuna typically sells for up to $40 per pound, though the price can fluctuate to upwards of $200 per pound in some regions. 

Fresh tuna, usually Bluefin or Yellowtail which is much more expensive than canned tuna.  Some scientists claim blue fin tuna is on the verge of extinction.   Due to commercial overfishing, blue fin tuna is particularly scarce.  Yet the demand for sushi and raw tuna sashimi is another factor that drives up the price of this fish.  It is believed that if the fishing industry continues at this rate, blue fin tuna will eventually be fished out of existence.

The high cost of air freight is another factor contributing to the high price of fresh tuna.  Shipping fresh fish on ice via priority shipping can become quite costly as fresh food obviously requires much more careful, time-sensitive handling. Canned fish can be stored for months and is cheaper to export, but fresh needs to stay on ice from harvest to consumer, and has a lifetime of maybe a week. 

Although you can find some cheaper canned tuna brands, some canned tuna can cost quite a lot of money as well.  If you look into some of the Ventresca tuna (belly meat of the fish) from Bonito Del norte or Ortiz, it can run as high as $18.75 for a 4 ounce can.

Popular Canned Tuna Brands

  • Cloverleaf Chunk or Solid White Tuna
  • Unico Solid Light Tuna
  • Ocean’s Tuna
  • Goldseal Flaked Light Tuna
  • StarKist Chunk Light Tuna
  • StarKist Solid White Albacore Tuna
  • Chicken of the Sea Tuna Chunk Light
  • Wild Planet, Wild Albacore Tuna
  • Genova Albacore Tuna.
  • Bumble Bee Solid White Albacore Tuna
  • Hyvee Select Solid White Albacore Tuna

Health Benefits

Omega-3 and Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Tuna consists of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, which have significant benefits for health and disease prevention. Omegas balance the blood vessels and reduce cholesterol in the veins and arteries.  These fatty acids also assist the heart functions, such as pumping blood efficiently throughout your body.

Lowers Risk of Cancer

Antioxidants from tuna help fight cancer cells.  Research shows that people who consume tuna regularly have a lower risk of certain types of cancers, such as breast cancer and cancer of the kidneys.

Improves Metabolism

Tuna improves your metabolic rate and improves organ function, helping boost energy so that you can remain active and healthy.   

Maintains Healthy Blood Pressure

Tuna is high in potassium, a mineral that helps lower blood pressure levels. Potassium, when combined with omegas, provides anti-inflammatory benefits to the cardiovascular system and lowers blood pressure.  Healthy blood pressure is instrumental in decreasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Strengthens the Immune System

The manganese, zinc, vitamin C and selenium contained in tuna help strengthen your immunity against diseases.  These crucial antioxidants protect your cells against free radicals that can cause cancer. 

Supports Bone Health

The vitamin B in tuna is instrumental in strengthening bones. This important vitamin builds strong bones and prevents bone loss.  It also protects against bone breaks and fractures.  

Promotes Weight Loss

Obesity is a major issue faced by a large population, especially in North America and the United Kingdom.   Tuna is low in calories, carbs and fat, but high in protein and nutrients to help keep your weight under control.           

Skin Health

The vitamin B in tuna contains a protein called elastin, supports skin health by improving your skin tone and texture.  The oils in the fish help your complexion’s radiance and prevent wrinkles and fine lines associated with aging.   Adding fish to your diet can also reduce inflammation and improve skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema.

carbs in tuna

Side Effects

Tuna is a type of fish that accumulates toxic mercury in its flesh due to industrial pollution.  Side effects of mercury poisoning include curling of the fingers, cognitive confusion and problems with balance.

Because tuna is a large fish that eats other smaller contaminated fish, heavy metals are concentrated in tuna.   

Fish and seafood that is improperly stored and handled is the leading cause of food poisoning in the United States.

Keto Options for Tuna

  • Make homemade tuna casserole with low carb shirataki noodles.
  • Combine tuna, mayo, relish, paprika for a zesty tuna salad.
  • Tuna and egg salad on lettuce wraps or wrap in corn or almond flour tortillas.
  • Create a creamy fish chowder with fresh tuna.
  • Low carb sushi with raw tuna rolled in cauliflower rice.
  • Tuna melt on crunch toast on Ezekiel toast or low carb bread of choice.
  • Pile tuna salad on top of celery sticks.
  • Make homemade fish cakes with canned tuna, purple potatoes, onions and seasonings. Fry them in avocado oil to make them crispy.
  • Stuff peppers with tuna salad.
  • Bake tuna and cheese over zucchini boats for a keto-friendly tuna melt.
  • Sear a fillet of fresh tuna along with lemon and dill. (Be careful not to overcook it as tuna has a quick cook time).

Keto Tuna Fish Cakes Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 can of flaked tuna, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • Pink Himalayan sea salt and black pepper (to taste)
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed, fresh or dried
  • ½ small onion, diced
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 3 small purple potatoes, boiled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons almond flour

Instructions:

  1. Combine all ingredients, except oil, together in a large mixing bowl. 
  2. Form mixture into patties.
  3. Roll the tuna patties in almond flour and then fry on medium heat in olive oil for about 5 minutes on each side until brown and the onions fully soften.  (The flour is optional, but will help crisp up the outside of your fishcakes.) 
  4. Garnish with additional parsley and enjoy!

Melissa Marshall

A litigation paralegal and writer. Her first novel debuts this fall. She lives with her kitten, Zoey overlooking the waterfront in beautiful Dartmouth, Nova Scotia - also known as the “City of Lakes”.

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