Diet-NutritionOmega-3 Fatty AcidsOmega-6 Fatty Acids

Does it matter if your tuna is packed in water or oil?

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, in Philadelphia, compared the fatty acid profiles of different commercially available US tuna products.

First, the details.

  • Fat and fatty acid composition of 8 products randomly selected from 2 US suppliers were analyzed.

And, the results.

  • Energy from fat varied from 3% to 33%, and the essential fatty acid linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid varied tenfold.
  • Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) varied between 90 and 770 mg/serving.
  • The omega-6:omega-3 ratio:
    • 3:1-4:1 in oil-packaged products
    • 2:1-7:1 in packaged tuna salads
    • 1:3-1:7 in water-packaged products.\
  • A similar magnitude of differences was seen in the ratio between arachidonic acid and DHA.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded the following:

  • Light tuna canned in water
    • Better choice of providing omega-3 fatty acids to individuals in a healthy population
  • Oil-packaged products
    • Preferable for people needing increased essential fatty acids, such as patients with cystic fibrosis.

The authors concluded, “Awareness regarding polyunsaturated fatty acid content may aid in consumer product choices and healthcare provider advice.”

2/21/11 22:03 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.