Got enough canned tuna on hand?
You should, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which just published new recommendations encouraging consumers to prepare for the possibility of a bird flu outbreak by stocking up on canned tuna and other
healthy, nutritious canned foods and juices.
In conjunction with the release of a new Pandemic Planning Update report
issued on March 13, 2006 HHS has published a series of checklists to aid in influenza preparations, including a Pandemic Flu Planning Checklist for Individuals and Families.
Among the recommendations listed, HHS advises consumers to have adequate stores of canned tuna and other ready-to-eat meats, fruits, vegetables and soups as well as canned juices, bottled water, canned
baby food and pet food.
Stating that no one in the world is prepared for an influenza pandemic,
HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt said, "When you go to the store and buy three
cans of tuna fish, buy a fourth and put it under the bed. When you go to the
store to buy some milk, pick up a box of powdered milk. Put it under the bed.
When you do that for a period of four to six months, you are going to have a
couple of weeks of food, and that's what we're talking about."
But canned tuna is much more than a convenient, ready-to-eat food, which
is why consumers looking for healthy, nutritious sources of lean protein will
also see a can of tuna on "MyPyramid," the new food guidance system recently
introduced by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help consumers meet
the recommendations contained in the 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Reflecting a key recommendation of the guidelines calling for consumers to eat
two eight-ounce servings a week of foods rich in the omega-3 fatty acids EPA
(eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), "MyPyramid" features
canned tuna to drive home the message that fish is an excellent source of
omega-3 fatty acids.
Of the top 10 most commonly consumed fish in this
country, salmon and canned albacore tuna have the highest levels of the omega-
3 fatty acid DHA, according to the USDA Nutritional Database.
The 2005 Dietary Guidelines for Americans also urge consumers to consume
lower-fat protein sources, which is why "MyPyramid" features canned tuna along
with lean meats and poultry, beans, peas, nuts and seeds.
In fact, canned tuna
is so high in protein that one six-ounce can yields one-third of the
recommended daily amount. Moreover, canned tuna is very low in calories
compared to other protein sources. There are 116 calories in a 100-gram
serving of water-packed canned tuna compared with 208 calories in the same
serving of turkey.
According to "MyPyramid," adults and children over age 2
should consume 5 1/2 ounces of lean protein every day.
"The fact that a can of tuna is featured in the food pyramid reinforces
what nutrition experts have known for years," said Barbara J. Moore, Ph.D.,
president and CEO of Shape Up America! and a member of the Tuna Nutrition
Council, which advises the U.S. Tuna Foundation (USTF) on nutrition and public
"Not only is canned tuna a rich source of the essential omega-
3 fatty acids, but it is low in fat, rich in certain vitamins and minerals and
an excellent source of protein."
According to experts working with HHS on flu pandemic planning, the best
way for families to plan ahead is to have adequate supplies of nonperishable
foods, water and other essentials on hand, which is also useful in other types
of emergencies, such as power outages and storms.
HHS's Pandemic Flu Planning
Checklist for Individuals and Families is available on the agency's Web site
More information about canned tuna and its health benefits is available at
the USTF Web site.
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