The Rich Reason You Should Usually Opt For Tuna Canned In Oil

Tuna and oil with tomatoes
Tuna and oil with tomatoes - Maryia_K/Shutterstock

Have you ever stood in front of the canned fish section at a grocery store unsure of whether to get tuna packed in oil or tuna packed in water? You're not alone. Unless you've taken the time to learn about the differences between the two, it can feel a bit daunting. But if you're deciding primarily based on flavor, you should usually opt for tuna canned in oil.

Feeling unsure? Just compare two cans of the same brand side by side — one oil, one water. Not only does oil-packed tuna have a richer flavor and a more luxurious, silken texture, but the thick viscosity of the oil keeps the tuna more moist. On the other hand, water-packed tuna is significantly less flavorful as well as noticeably drier (just try flaking it with a fork). If you want your tuna to taste indulgent, the choice is an easy one. Oil-packed elevates some of tuna's most beloved dishes, like the classic French Niçoise salad, and even Ina Garten agrees that oil-packed tuna is best for cheese-tastic tuna melts.

Read more: 13 Canned Fish Brands, Ranked Worst To Best

The Virtues Of Oil-Packed Tuna

Tuna Nicoise salad
Tuna Nicoise salad - Mironov Vladimir/Shutterstock

In addition to the richly-coated, deeper flavor profile you get from oily tuna, it also boasts a higher fat content (double that of tuna in water, per Healthline), increasing satiety to leave you feeling full longer, but with less cholesterol. Of course, the exact numbers vary depending on the brand, so be sure to check your nutrition label.

Incorporating the tuna can's oil into your dish, instead of draining it, could help you preserve its precious omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study by Public Health Nutrition, water-packed tuna retained more of its omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) than oil-packed, but only when drained. This has largely been attributed to the fact that fat bonds with fat, while water and oil repel each other; meaning, when you drain your water-packed tuna those omega-3s stay put. But when you drain oil-packed tuna those same oil-soluble fatty acids mingle with the olive oil and are subsequently drained off. So, if you don't drain it — you'll retain it.

The study also noted that oil-packed tuna contains more omega-6-rich linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA). And the U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that tuna packed in oil has increased levels of vitamin D and selenium over its water-packed counterpart. Rich in nutrition and rich in flavor — who knew oil-packed tuna could be so luxurious!

Read the original article on Tasting Table.