Tuna versus salmon: Which is best for you?

Nutritionist Renee McGregor explains the nutritious benefits of salmon and tuna, and discusses which is the healthiest for endurance athletes

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The benefits of tuna

Tuna is a great source of lean high biological value protein for all endurance athletes meaning that it provides all the essential amino acids required for repair and recovery especially post training.


Per 100g of canned tuna provides 116 calories, 25g of protein, 50% of your RDA vitamin B12, 16% of your RDA phosphorous and over 100% of your RDA for selenium; all nutrients essential for oxygen uptake, bone health and energy utilisation.

It is versatile and can be used as a wrap filling, top a baked potato or added to a pasta bake to create a well balanced pre or post training meal; thus making a can of tuna an essential store cupboard staple for any endurance athlete.

The benefits of salmon

Salmon is also a great source of protein but has the added benefit of being high in omega 3 fatty acids, whether fresh or tinned in comparison to tuna where only fresh Tuna has omega 3 fatty acids, while tinned tuna loses this property during the canning process.

Per 100g it provides 208 calories, 20g of protein, 2.3g of omega 3 fatty acids thus one serving provides almost your weekly requirement for optimal health; It provides 50% of your RDA Vit B12, 67% RDA selenium and is one of the only food sources of Vitamin D.

A study is 2017 (Hingley L, et al. Int J Sport Nutr Exerc Metab. 2017) showed that Omega 3 rich fish such as salmon can reduce the oxygen cost of physiologically stressful cycling in trained cyclists, i.e. it improved the economy of cycling.


Which is better? Tuna or salmon? 

While both are excellent choices for endurance athletes such as triathletes, salmon pips the post due to its high omega 3 fatty acid content regardless of whether it is tinned or fresh. Just one serving a week can provide athletes with their RDA of omega 3 fatty acids helping to encourage recovery, prevent fatigue and reduce inflammation.