April 21

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Is Canned Fish Healthy? Diet benefits of tinned salmon, tuna and sardines

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We're often told fresh is best. So, while that's true, just how healthy is canned fish? Actually, it's very good for you. You can gain your weekly quota of oily fish from tins you cans and tins you probably keep in your pantry.

When you're busy, don't have a lot of time and hungry, canned fish is your best friend.

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Lean source of protein conveniently packaged and filled with heart-healthy omega-3s. What's not to love? Additionally, you won't have to visit your local fishmonger or supermarket fish counter and brave the smell.

While I'm a huge fan of fresh food, fresh fish can sometimes be a little tricky. It requires extra prep work and storage conditions, with limited shelf life.

Canned fish on the other hand offers you a convenient and healthy alternative.

Eating oily fish just twice a week provides the recommended amount of omega-3 fats needed for a healthy diet. Including items such as canned tuna, salmon or sardines in your weekly diet will help improve your health.

Convenience and variety of keeping your pantry stocked with canned fish

There's hardly any prep work required, pretty much just open the tin and you're good to go. These days, you don't even have to hunt for a tin opener since many brands equip their canned fish with a handy dandy ring pull.

Furthermore, you even have the choice of fish flakes, chunks or slices depending on what texture you prefer. You can mix and match and choose canned fish options that suit a variety of tasty meals.

You can really go for gold when it comes to variety and options. Use canned fish for a healthy sandwich filling, or spread on top of warm toast. How about a light and bright tuna pasta for lunch?

Pick up a can or two next time you're stocking up on groceries and put them to good use.

Three good reasons to include canned fish in your healthy diet

A tasty and flavourful option

There's a vast number of flavour combinations lining supermarket shelves. You'll find chilli, herbs and spices as well as lemon pepper options. Have a browse and you're sure to find one you fancy, or you can always stick to plain.

The bones are edible

In fresh fish, bones can present a choking hazard. However, the canning process softens and actually makes them edible. What's more, canned sardines and salmon containing bones are a great source of calcium.

More money in your pocket

You'll get great value for money when it comes to feeding your family if you opt for canned fish. Look for good deals on larger sizes. Often, the bigger the can, the more you save. For example, you might pay $7.50 for a 415g can of salmon. On the other hand, you might pay upwards of $20 for four fresh skinless fillets.

Top choice of healthy supermarket canned fish

Woolworths Brisling Sardines in Spring Water

Woolworths Brisling Sardines in Spring Water

$1.20 per 110g can
Great as a single-serve offering almost 14g of protein and over 3g of heart-healthy omega-3s

John West Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon 415g can

John West Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon

$7.50 per 415g can
A perfect choice to feed a family of four. Each portion will provide 200mg of calcium.

Sirena Tuna with Chilli in Oil

Sirena Tuna with Chilli in Oil

$2.50 per 95g can
Packed with flavour, perfect for a quick and easy snack.

Turn your canned fish into a healthy meal in just minutes with these easy recipes:

Fancy Sardine Open Sandwich

Serves 1
Prep time 5 minutes

Watch the salt - look for canned fish with less than 400mg sodium per 100g for a healthier choice.

Ingredients:

  • 110g can sardines in spring water, drained
  • 1/4 avocado
  • 1 cup baby rocket or spinach
  • 2 slices granary, wholegrain or soy-linseed bread

Method:

  • Firstly, toast the bread.
  • Next, spread with avocado and top with sardines and baby rocket or spinach.
  • Season to taste with fresh black pepper and/or a squeeze of lemon or even chilli flakes.

Nutrition Information:

Per serve: 1663kJ (398cal), 25.5g protein, 21.3g fat, 4.3g sat fat, 8g fibre, 396mg sodium, 571mg calcium

Salmon-Stuffed 'Baked' Potato

Serves 4
Prep time 20 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 415g can pink salmon, drained
  • 4 large potatoes, washed
  • 450g bag store-bought coleslaw (without dressing)
  • 4 tablespoons reduced-fat Greek-style yoghurt

Method:

  • First of all, prick the potato skins with a fork in several places
  • Place in a microwavable dish and cook on full power for 6–8 minutes. Check them to make sure they are tender inside.
  • Next, with a sharp knife carefully cut a cross on the top of each potato.
  • Carefully squeeze the sides of each potato to open it up. Use a clean dish towel to protect your hands - the potatoes are HOT!
  • Season with freshly ground black pepper.
  • Divide the salmon evenly over each of the potatoes.
  • Finally, top with a handful of coleslaw and a dollop of yoghurt.

Nutrition Information:

Per serve: 1952kJ (488cal), 39.5g protein, 8.1g fat, 2.1g sat fat, 8.1g fibre, 388mg sodium, 233mg calcium

Warm Tuna and Rice Salad

Serves 2
Prep time 10 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 x 95g cans flavoured tuna
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 50g reduced-fat feta
  • 250g pouch microwavable brown rice

Method:

  • Firstly, split the baby spinach between two serving bowls.
  • Next, cook the rice according to packet instructions.
  • Divide the cooked rice evenly between the bowls too.
  • Afterwards, mix a can of tuna into the contents of each bowl.
  • Lastly, crumble feta over the top and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Nutrition Information:

Per serve: 1923kJ (460cal), 30.5g protein, 13.4g fat, 3.4g sat fat, 5.8g fibre, 666mg sodium, 113mg sodium

About the author

Paul Stokes

Paul Stokes BSc (Hons) is a Certified Personal Trainer, Accredited Sports Nutritionist, qualified Exercise to Music Instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, Massage Therapist and teaches 8 of the Les Mills Group Exercise programs. He currently works in the Oil & Gas industry as a Wellness Coach, imparting his vast knowledge and experience to improve the quality of life of several hundred offshore workers.

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