The Surprisingly Healthy Canned Food You Can Pick Up At The Drugstore

You don't typically think of healthy when you hit your local drugstore for a quick snack; it can be hard to find fresh food. But, when you're in a hurry, you don't have many options. However, that doesn't mean there aren't any healthy choices at all. Run to the canned food aisle and grab some tuna. You'll want to steer clear of those tunas packed in oil, but water-packed tuna can be a healthy way to fill your belly that doesn't hurt your waistline. 

The nutrition will vary based on the size of the can you buy, but a 3-ounce StarKist chunk light tuna has about 70 calories, according to StarKist. It's low in calories and high in protein, with 16 grams in the entire can. Protein makes you feel full and satisfied. It's also high in other essential nutrients that improve your cardiovascular health. 

Take a deep dive with us into the health benefits canned tuna can offer to see why you might want to pick up a can at the drugstore rather than those chips. You'll also discover why eating canned tuna in moderation is essential.

Health benefits of eating canned tuna

High-protein food that's low in calories keeps your stomach and gut happy. So, canned tuna can help you lose weight when eaten as part of a healthy lifestyle program. It's also cheap and easy enough to grab at any store.

Beyond keeping your waistline in check, canned tuna is full of omega-3 fatty acids, specifically docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is beneficial in all areas of your health. A 2016 study in Nutrients showed that DHA affects the brain from infancy to adulthood by influencing different pathways and receptors in the brain, meaning it improves overall cognition. A 2017 study in the Journal of Biological Chemistry also noted that DHA is required for visual acuity. Nourish by WebMD pointed out that omega-3 fatty acids can lower your risk for heart disease by reducing the bad cholesterol in your blood. They also showed that there is a link between DHA and limiting the growth of tumors in specific types of cancers. 

Tuna is also full of B12, with just a can filling 90% of your daily needs. This is good in helping to reduce your risk for anemia. Loading up on the B12 can ensure your DNA is forming new blood cells properly to keep your cells iron-rich. There are many healthy reasons you should start eating more fish. Just don't get too much of a good thing. 

Why you should eat tuna in moderation

The benefits of canned tuna can't be matched regarding drugstore purchases. So, getting a few cans and making some tuna sandwiches isn't going to break the bank, and it will still be a healthy meal. However, canned tuna isn't something you want to fill every meal or day with. It's essential to eat tuna in moderation. 

If the food chain taught you anything in school, you are what you eat. Well, tuna likes to eat other fish. And, since the oceans are quickly becoming polluted with different toxins — including mercury — fish, like tuna, have more mercury within them because of the smaller fish they are consuming. While bigger fish like albacore have more mercury, even small tuna contain levels of mercury that can be dangerous if overeaten, according to Healthline.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) notes that light canned tuna contains an average mercury concentration of 0.126 parts per million, higher than other fish like salmon and tilapia. A 2014 study in Environmental Health Perspectives showed that consuming fish elevated mercury levels in the participants' blood, which is why eating tuna in moderation is crucial.

Other considerations when grabbing a can of tuna

Canned tuna is a good choice when picking up something at the drugstore. It's full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids. However, canned tuna will be a bit higher in salt than any fresh fish you buy due to the canning process. The can could also pose potential hazards since the material has bisphenol A (BPA). The chemical is known to play a role in endocrine disorders, hormone-dependent tumors, and metabolic disorders, according to 2015 research found in the journal Roczniki Państwowego Zakładu Higieny. It can break down over time and leach into canned food, states the Mayo Clinic.

It's also important to pair your canned tuna with other foods on the healthy side. If you load your tuna with mayo rich in saturated fats, you'll negate many of its positive qualities. Consider throwing tuna in a bed of plain lettuce or making a creamy tuna salad with avocado rather than mayo. That way, you get a double dose of good fats. Or try sauteed canned tuna with a bit of olive oil and garlic. Surprisingly, it also works fabulously in an omelet.

Healthy choices at your local drugstore are hard to come by; but canned tuna can be easy to find, cost-effective, and beneficial to boot. Stock up on a couple of cans today!