If you’re someone who loves fish, you probably shop for it in all forms and varieties. One of the easiest ways to buy fish is to opt for the canned or tinned fish. If you’ve never heard or had canned fish before, it’s exactly how it sounds. These are various types of fish sealed in a can. (Should we call it canned or tinned fish? That’s up to you.) No matter what your choice of name is, it’s super nutritious and has a shelf life of anywhere from 1 to 5 years. Which are two huge perks. That fish in your fridge will last a day or two. But canned fish is a great addition to a salad, on a cracker or as an anytime snack. Not only is it delicious, but it also comes with a slew of health benefits, too. Interested in adding some to your diet? Let’s break down the 7 best canned fish brands you can buy right now.
Canned fish is currently not as popular in North America as it is in countries like Spain and Portugal. But that’s starting to change. (Yes, even sardines and getting more popular.) And since it’s easy to eat, lasts forever and is super healthy, we can see why.
What is canned fish?
Canned fish—i.e. fish that’s prepared and packaged in a can—is nothing new. In fact, chances are your parents, grandparents and even great grandparents were big consumers of fish of the canned variety. During financially challenging times, such as the Great Depression, canned fish was a cheap, nutritious and satisfying meal or snack. “Since the beginning of time, people have found ways to preserve fish, either by drying it and even fermenting it,” notes Sharon Palmer, RDN, founder of The Plant-Powered Dietitian. “The advent of canning became a very convenient way to provide nutrition to help sustain people.”
With canning, the fish is preserved and kept safe and healthy for long periods of time.
The nutritional benefits of canned fish
Canned fish has similar nutritional properties to fresh fish (which is why we made this list fo the best canned fish brands.) In fact, Palmer notes that most canned fish options have as much omega-3 fatty acids as the fresh version. Omegas-3s are healthy fats that are linked with heart health and brain health and reducing inflammation. “Certain types of canned fish—i.e. cold water fatty fish including tuna, salmon, sardines, herring, and anchovies—have more of these healthy fats than others,” she says. “Canned fish is also a good source of protein, and fish with bones has calcium. Also it contains B12, vitamin D, iron, selenium, zinc, and iodine.”
The drawbacks to consuming canned fish
If you’re consuming canned fish on the regular, it is important to keep a few things in mind. Certain canned fish like tuna can contain high levels of mercury. (That’s not a good thing.) “Because of the polluted water that surrounds the fish, they can absorb toxic mercury, which can impact our health by building up in our body, including our lungs, brain, vision, and affecting our mood and nervous system,” warns Julie Hefner, Certified Nutritionist in Newport Beach. Avoid or limit your white albacore tuna and King Mackerel intake since they contain the highest levels of mercury. “Instead, purchase chunk light tuna and Atlantic mackerel,” she adds.
There is also the issue of sustainability. “Some fish are overfished, and are fished with methods that are destructive to the ocean ecosystems, or destroy bycatch (other non-targeted species),” says Palmer. She recommends looking at Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch to find choices that are more sustainable. “They rate several brands of tuna to be ‘Best Choice,’ and also allow you to look for eco-certifications on fish from the Marine Stewardship Council,” she says. “Some stores even follow their guidelines (i.e., Hy-Vee, Albertsons) with partnerships to offer customers sustainable seafood.”
Best canned fish brands you can buy online
Ready to shop canned fish? These are the brands that nutrition experts recommend to their canned-fish-loving clients.
If shopping for sustainable seafood is important, Wild Planet is doing their part for the environment. “Wild Planet is committed to caring for the environment by not overfishing our ocean’s waters and depleting our natural resources of fish and using selective harvesting practices by using 100 percent pole and line caught tuna while protecting juvenile fish so they can grow and reproduce,” says Palmer. They are non-GMO, Kosher, gluten-free. Additionally, they do not add any oil, water or fillers so you only get the fresh, seafood flavor you’re craving.
As the only brand that tests every single one of their fish for mercury, it even has a stamp of approval from the American Pregnancy Association, which recommends it to pregnant women and young children in moderation. “They have rigorous testing standards for mercury, the brand promises it contains no more than 0.1 parts per million of mercury,” says Roger E. Adams, Ph.D., doctor of nutrition and owner of eatrightfitness. They don’t use additives—no fillers, preservatives, GMOs or BPA—just pure seafood at its finest.
This is the luxury brand of canned fish and vegetables. They refuse to include 150 banned colors, flavors, preservatives and other ingredients that are are not deemed organic or natural. They are ethically sourced, high-quality and offer more than just the basic fish in oil. Which is thanks to a wide array of herbs and spices in their canned varieties. An easy addition to our list of the best canned fish brands.
This canned fish company, which has been around for more than 60 years. They cook the seafood in its own juices and oils with only salt added so all the natural flavors come through, notes Dr. Adams. This is a big deal, as many other brands add water so the taste is diluted. “They are also only wild salmon, not farmed, found in the Pacific Northwest,” he adds.
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This brand of canned tuna is pole and line caught and harvests younger tuna. The benefit is the young ones are naturally lower in mercury than their older counterparts. All of their tuna comes from MSC Certified U.S. Pole & Line Albacore Fishery. Which uses a method of fishing that involves barbless hooks and poles to catch the tuna one at a time just above the water’s surface.
Crown Prince is one of the pricier for canned fish products. But you’ll be comforted to know that this brand is known for some of the best tasting canned fish around. From kippers and herring to sardines and tuna. They follow sustainability parameters that satisfy Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and The Monterey Bay Aquarium (MBA) standards
This Portuguese brand of canned seafood offers mackerel and tuna to octopus and mussels. It’s equally fresh and delicious as it is artistic and beautiful in terms of its artistic packaging. They are packaged in the traditional style that you’d find at a shop in downtown Lisbon. And they are fished sustainably and blended with only the purest of ingredients, per their website.
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Best Canned Fish Brands – In Conclusion
If you’re looking for a super nutritious boost to your diet, then consider canned fish. It has tons of protein and omega-3 fatty acids (which we could all use more of.) And it will almost never go bad. As long as you limit your intake of the higher mercury fish, it’s hard to find a healthier addition to your plate.
Jenn Sinrich is a freelance editor, writer and content strategist located in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her BA in journalism from Northeastern University and has more than a decade of experience working for a myriad of female-focused publications including SELF, Parents, Women’s Health, BRIDES, Martha Stewart Weddings and more. When she’s not putting pen to paper (or, really, fingers to keyboard), she’s enjoying the most precious moments in life with her husband and daughter.