Albacore vs tuna

Albacore vs tuna
September 30, 2015 8:57 AM

Tuna or albacore - which is more beneficial? This post features a detailed comparison of the two fish, including comparison of nutritional values and mercury content. There are also several easy to make recipes with tuna and albacore within the post.

Albacore

The albacore is actually a species of tuna belonging to the family Scombridae. The other names for this species are albie, tuna, German bonito, longfin tuna and longfin tunny. This species of tuna is present in the market in United States in the form of “white meat tuna”. It is present in open waters and temperate oceans. Albacore is quite a popular fish and is economically viable. Some common methods of fishing include trolling, long-line fishing and pole and line. Different sport fishers also hunt these fishes.

Now let us look at the life cycle of this species. The female of the species generally produces about 800,000 to 2.6 million eggs. The hatching time of these eggs varies between a day or two. The fish begins to grow quickly as soon as the egg hatches. These fishes remain near the place where they were hatched first of all. They go to other places after a year has passed. The lifespan of these fishes is generally 11 to 12 years but they generally mature after six years.

There are some differences between albacore and other tuna species. Some albacore species also differ from each other. Each species of albacore tuna is differentiated on the basis of nucleotide sites. Albacore have thymine, guanine, cytosine, adenine, and thyamin in positions 35, 62, 68, 89 and 227. So, they differ from black fin tuna in this respect. Also, albacore are different from yellow fin tuna species.

Diet

This species of tuna are sea predators which means that they are open sea hunters. Their diets differ slightly from one season to the other. The main source of food for albacore tuna is caphalopods. The type of caphalopods species mostly eaten by albacore is Heteroteuthis dispar. Some other species eaten by albacore include crustacean and fish. There isn’t much information about the food pattern of tuna as of right now.

Now let us look at this species in a bit more detail. The fin of albacore tuna is extremely long and it is larger in size than the anal fin but is within 30 cm. The average weight of albacore tuna is up to 60 kg and its height is about 1.4 m. There are about seven to nine finlets in albacore. The color of this species is usually dark blue with a hint of tuna. The dorsal fin has a deep yellow color.

Health benefits of albacore

Albacore tuna is packed with a number of health benefits which have been mentioned below:

Proteins

Proteins are quite important for the human body. Most of our foods contain proteins. Amino acids are obtained by the consumption of proteins (1). Proteins are also helpful in case the body doesn’t get enough carbohydrates. The protein content in albacore is the same as beef and other chicken but it has half the number of fats as compared to them. There are about 23 grams of proteins in 3 ounce of albacore.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Albacore is also high in its Omega fatty acid content. Therefore, it has the ability to lower the risk of heart diseases. The basic types of Omega fatty acids present in this fish are DHA and EPA. There are about 0.74 grams of DHA and EPA in a 3 ounce serving of albacore canned tuna in water (2).

Selenium

Slenium has the ability of combining with other substance to act as a thyroid regulating substance. The immune system of the body also depends on adequate supply of selenium. The minimum selenium requirement of the body is about 56 micrograms. A 3 ounce serving of albacore tuna contains about 51 micrograms of selenium.

Supporting a healthy heart

Omega 3 fats are present in albacore which help in keeping the heart healthy and lower the risk of heart related diseases. There are about 89 milligrams of docsahexaenoic acid present in 3 ounces of albacore. DHA and EPA are also present in tuna. These are the long chained fatty acids that lower the dangers caused by elevated level of blood triglyceride and slow down the process of formation of plaque in the blood vessels. Other functions are also performed by omega 3 in the body like preventing strokes and preventing the formation of blood clot.

Controls weight

There are about 25 grams of protein in a 3 ounce serving of cooked yellowfin tuna. This equates to about 50 fifty percent of the daily value on a 2,000 caloric diet. So using albacore as a protein source can help in weight loss. But the number of calories in albacore differ from one recipe to another. For example an albacore fish served with mayonnaise will have more calories as compared to an albacore fish served with salad.

Lowers blood pressure

Another benefit of albacore is that it is rich in potassium content and low in sodium at the same time. This kind of diet can help in lowering the overall blood pressure of the body. Potassium helps lower blood pressure by relaxing the blood vessels. Low sodium levels also lead to decreased water absorption and decreased load on heart.

Mercury in albacore

Albacore tuna is quite a healthy fish. It is even healthier if caught in the Britain or USA. Usually this fish is caught in its younger state and therefore doesn’t have that much mercury content in it. The problem with importing albacore from other countries is that it is older and therefore has higher mercury content in it. So location plays an important role in the selection of tuna. There are different sources to buy African and American albacore tuna. These include Pacific fleet, Heritage Foods USA, Wild Pacific Seafood and Wild Planet.

Albacore recipes

Many recipes can be made from Albacore fish. You don’t need to buy any book to find albacore recipes because some popular recipes of albacore fish have been mentioned below:

Pan cooked albacore with soy marinade

The ingredients needed for the preparation of this dish include: 1/4 cup sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoon mirin, 1 table spoon seasoned rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 table spoon dark sesame oil and 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger.

How to make

Now let us see how to make this recipe. You need vinegar, ginger, soy, and sugar in a bowl. Now mix all of them together. Now put sesame oil in it and mix it again. Now take a large bowl and put albacore steaks in it. Now cover the bowl and put it in refrigerator for about 1 to 2 hours. Now prepare a hot grill over medium flame. Remove fish from marinade. Now cook the steaks on each side for about 2 to 4 minutes. Now the dish is prepared and ready to eat.

Albacore tuna cucumber and potato kebabs

The main ingredients needed for making this dish include 12 small potatoes, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 pound albacore tuna lion, 1 tablespoon pimenton, 1 peeled cucumber, 1 lemon and 1/8 tablespoon pepper.

How to make

Take potatoes in a sauce pan and put 2 inches water in it. Boil the potatoes until they become tender enough to be cut easily. Now drain the liquid. Make a paste of garlic and add 6 tablespoon oil and pimenton in it. Now cut the albacore in 1.5 inch pieces. Now put albacore in pimenton oil. Now cut the cucumber into four halves with the help of a knife. Take a bowl and put cucumber and potatoes in it. Add pepper and salt in it. Now heat a grill to a high temperature. Put potatoes, cucumber and albacore on it. Grill the skewers until they are completely cooked. Remove them from grill after two minutes. The dish is now ready. You can serve it with lemon or salad.

Albacore gravlax with radish and avocado salad

The ingredients required for this dish are 2 teaspoon sugar, 3 radishes, 1/2 tsp. Kosher salt, 2 tablespoons chopped chives, 3 tablespoon virgin oil, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1.5 pounds albacore belly and 3 radishes.

How to make

Making this dish is quite simple. Put 2 tablespoon salt and sugar in bowl. Mix the albacore belly with salt mixture. Now put it on a plate and cover it for at least 6 hours. Now put fish in cold water and put it on a plate. Now slowly pull the sharpened knife through the fish. Divide into 4 to 6 slices. Now cover it with a plastic sheet. Now put the prepared fish into another plate. Now cut radishes into thin slices. Put it into a small bowl and put chives oil, lemon juice and avocado in it. Now mix some more salt to it and put this salad with the prepared fish. Enjoy.

Tuna

Tuna is a saltwater finfish which is a part of the Thunnini tribe. It is a vast family. It consists of fifteen different species. These fishes come in different sizes and shapes and range from the bullet tuna which has a height of just 1.6 feet, to the Atlantic Bluefin tuna which has a height of about 15 feet.

These fishes have a unique respiratory and circulatory systems. So, there body temperature remains greater than the surrounding water. Tuna is quite an active hunter and has a streamlined body which is the fastest known swimming fish. It can swim up to 75 km/h. It is found in warm water and is hunted commercially.

The thing that makes this fish so special is the speed of the fish. It has two fins on its back side. There are about 10 finlets. A tail is attached to the back side of the tuna having three kneels on each side which are horizontal in shape. The dorsal side of tuna is has a metallic blue color and has a silvery white color on the underside.

Health benefits of tuna

There are a numerous health benefits of tuna fish. The reason that tuna has so many health benefits is due to the minerals, nutrients, vitamins and the organic compounds present in it. Some major health benefits of tuna fish have been mentioned below:

Heart health

It is a well-known fact that the tuna fish is quite beneficial for the heart health. The levels of omega 3 fatty acids in tuna is quite high which help in reducing the amount of cholesterol in the blood vessels and arteries. High unsaturated fat content is also present in tuna fish which further decreases the risk of heart disease.

Lowering blood pressure

Tuna is quite helpful in lowering the blood pressure due to the presence of omega 3 fatty acids, which help in the reduction of blood pressure. Hypertension is also reduced as the strain on the cardiovascular system is reduced. This helps in preventing strokes and heart attack as well as blood vessel conditions like atherosclerosis which can cause many health complications. Tuna salad has been recommended for people to lower their blood pressure levels (3).

Weight loss

Obesity has been a cause of concern for people of all ages. Tuna fish has low calories and contains beneficial proteins and nutrients. A hormone called leptin is initiated by omega 3 fatty acids present in tuna. This hormone controls the desire of a person to eat. This saves a person from over eating and a person can get quickly back on track.

Energy levels

There are many health benefits of Vitamin B complex but they are quite beneficial in improving the metabolism and skin health. They also increase the overall efficiency of our organ systems. A person becomes more active by consuming tuna on regular basis.

Cancer prevention

Tuna is loaded with selenium and other nutritional components which makes it quite effective against certain types of cancer. Studies linking anti-cancer effects of tuna are ongoing. But some studies show that tuna reduces the incidence of breast cancer (4). Selenium is quite a powerful antioxidant which stops the radicals before they can do any more damage to the body.

Kidney disease

Tuna has a balanced sodium and potassium content in it. This helps in managing the fluid in the body. The kidneys in the body function well when there is a balance between potassium and other salts.

Reduction in inflammation

Tuna keeps the body away from stress by reducing inflammation. All of the organs benefit from the reduction in inflammation. Different inflammatory diseases like gout and arthritis are also prevented by tuna.

Depression

Eating tuna fish is also helpful against depression. A recent study showed that the consumption of tuna fish can be quite beneficial for women and can help in reducing depression among them.

Mercury content

The biggest concern among the people eating tuna is the mercury content in it. Mercury is a dangerous metal and can produce dangerous effects on the brain functioning. The Agency for Toxic Substances and Diseases Registry suggests that tuna is dangerous for pregnant women and they should avoid it all costs. The white tuna contains the greatest level of mercury in it. But light tuna contains lower amount of mercury. Pregnant women should consult a doctor or health care provider before consuming tuna.

Tuna recipes

Let us now look at some tuna recipes. Some major tuna recipes have been mentioned below:

Seared tuna with avocado salsa

The ingredients required for this dish include 1 cup halved grape tomatoes, 1/2 cup sliced red onion, 3 tablespoon fresh cilantro, 3 tablespoon lime juice, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 2 avocados, 2 garlic cloves, 2 tablespoon low sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoon dark brown sugar and 4 tuna steaks.

How to make

Making this dish is quite simple. Firstly mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Put brown sugar and soy sauce in a bowl and stir it until the sugar dissolves. Now heat pan over medium flame. Put cooking spray on pan. Now add steaks to the pan and cook them for 2 minutes on each side until they become crisp. Now remove the steaks from pan. Put some lemon on it and serve it.

Tuna tartos with pic de gallo

The ingredients needed for making this dish are 1 can solid packed tuna, 4 ounces of Roma tomatoes, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/3 cup chopped onions, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 sandwich rolls.

How to make

Your need to firstly drain out the tuna well into a bowl of some kind. Mix tomatoes, cilantro, onion and chilies in it. Put the tuna on the sandwich rolls. The dish is now ready to eat.

Vegetable panzella with tuna

The ingredients required for making this dish are 1 cup dried red bell paper, 1 1/4 cup zucchini, 1/2 cup sliced red onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 3 tomatoes, 1 can of tuna in water, and 4 cups whole wheat bread.

How to make

First put finely chopped cucumber in bowl and then add cooked tuna and all the other ingredients in a bowl. The dish is now ready to eat.

Albacore vs Tuna

By now you should know that there are not much differences between albacore and tuna. The reason is that albacore is also a species of tuna. But still there are some differences between the two and those differences are mainly based on the nutritional differences and the mercury content of the two. Let us look at some major differences between albacore and tuna one by one.

Nutrition and nutritional values

The number of calories present in tuna are lower than those present in albacore tuna. There are about 99 calories present in a 3 ounce serving of light tuna whereas there are about 109 calories present in an equal serving of albacore tuna. The selenium, niacin, iron and vitamin B-12 content in light tuna is slightly higher than albacore tuna. But the sodium content in tuna is lesser than that present in albacore tuna. Albacore contains more heart healthy omega 3 fats in comparison to tuna.

Let us look at the nutritional comparison between albacore and tuna through the following table:

  Albacore Tuna
Total calories 60 179
Total fats 1 g 1.3 g
Cholesterol 25 mg 46 mg
Sodium 180 mg 521 mg
Proteins 13 g 39.3 g

Mercury comparison

It is an all accepted fact that mercury is present in fish. Methyl mercury is the compound which is present in most of the fishes (5). There is more amount of mercury in albacore tuna than light tuna. Pregnant and nursing women need to avoid eating albacore tuna fish as it is high in mercury content. The FDA recommends eating 6 ounces of albacore tuna and 12 ounces of tuna per serving to avoid any kind of problems. Mercury is a dangerous element and too much mercury can cause damage to young children and babies. Experts recommend that a person should eat albacore tuna fish once a week to avoid any kinds of discomfort.

Taste differences

The albacore tuna is either sold in the canned form or in the form of large pieces. The texture of albacore tuna is meat like and has a mild flavor. Light tuna has a pinkish color and a shredded appearance. The flavor of light tuna is a bit more intense than albacore tuna.

Conclusion

This article has informed you about tuna and albacore and the difference between the two. But the big question is which tuna is better. There are many points which can be considered as the buying points between the two like paying attention to packing and looking for environmental friendly species but the thing that plays an important factor about the choice between the two is the mercury levels. Tuna has lesser mercury content compared to albacore tuna. So light tuna fish is the best fish to eat from this point of view. Therefore, you should prefer light tuna over albacore tuna.

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Written by: Michal Vilímovský (EN)
Education: Medical student, 3rd Faculty of Medicine, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic
Article resources: See numbered references within the article.
Image resources: Dollarphotoclub.com
Published: September 30, 2015 8:57 AM
Next scheduled update: September 30, 2017 8:57 AM
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