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Yellowfin tuna (Ahi tuna) Nutrition facts

Yellowfin tuna (Ahi tuna) is a major commercial tuna species found in tropical and semi-tropical waters of all major oceans.

Yellowfin gets this name from the bright golden-yellow color of its dorsal, anal, and tail fins and conspicuous lateral lines running along sides.

Yellowfin's moderately oily, firm and mild-flavored reddish-brown flesh is highly sought after in the Japanese sashimi and as canned "light tuna" in the U.S.

Scientific name: Thunnus albacares. Family: Scombridae.

ahi tuna
Ahi tuna (Thunnus albacares). Photo credit:

Description

Yellowfin tuna are among larger tuna species. The body is robust, torpedo-shaped, enabling them to swim swiftly at a speed of 40 miles per hour.

Their body features a very long second dorsal fin and caudal fin. The pectoral fin is also very long, reaching beyond the base of the second dorsal fin origin but not beyond the end.

The back is black metallic to dark blue, changing through yellow on its sides to silvery on the belly. Its sides feature a distinct, golden-yellow stripe, which runs along the side.

The sides and belly often feature white, broken, nearly vertical lines. The dorsal and anal fins and finlets are bright yellow with black bordering.

Yellowfin's life span ranges between 6 and 10 years. Adults measure about 100-140 cm and weigh 40-70 lbs. Most yellowfin tuna (about 50% of those caught) are taken by purse seine fishing vessels.

Habitat

Yellowfin tuna are pelagic marine fish found throughout the tropical and semi-tropical Pacific, Atlantic, and Indian oceans.

Yellowfin prefer warm waters and can generally be found in the top 100 meters of the ocean, sometimes shoaling around drifting objects.

Yellowfin tuna are fast-swimming predators, which prey on a wide variety of fish including pilchard, anchovy, mackerel, and other tuna such as the smaller skipjack, and crustaceans and mollusks such as cuttlefish, squid, shrimp, octopus, and larvae stages of lobster, and crabs.

Biology

Yellowfin reach their maturity between 2 and 5 years of age. They spawn in warm, open water close to the surface. They are multiple spawners. Eggs are released by females in several batches, nearly once in 2-3 days, which peaks in summer.

Health Benefits of Ahi (Yellowfin) tuna

  1. Yellowfin is an moderately oily, marine fish. It's pinkish red meat is good source of protein, essential fatty acids, minerals and fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, E and D.

  2. 3.5 Oz (100 g) of fresh yellowfin steak holds 109 calories and 24.4 g/100 g (43.5% of RDI) of protein. The flesh composes all the essential amino acids in right proportions.

  3. Ahi tuna's fat is less in saturated fats and cholesterol but moderate source of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) and Omega-3's. Studies suggest seafood rich in omega-3 fats, like canned tuna, can help prevent cognitive decline, dementia, depression, neuropsychiatric disorders, asthma, and inflammatory disorders.

  4. Research studies suggest that omega-3's fatty acids, particularly DHA, play an important role in the development of nervous system, especially in infants and children.

  5. According to Cornell University and the New York Sea Grant Extension Program. 2012- the fatty acids play crucial role in decreasing blood pressure and heart rate and help improve cardiovascular function. For example, research has shown that omega-3 fatty acids decrease the risk of arrhythmias (abnormal heartbeats) that can lead to sudden death.

  6. It contains small amounts of vitamin-A (60 IU/100 g); Nonetheless, its liver carries high amounts of omega-3 essential fatty acids such as omega-3 eicosapentaenoicacid (EPA), docosapantaenoicacid (DPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) help maintain healthy mucosa, skin, and hair.

  7. Yellowfin's lean meat is an excellent source of B-complex vitamins such as niacin, pyridoxine (B-6) and B-12. It is also a good source of vitamin-E, thiamin, and riboflavin.

  8. Further, it is a natural source of rich minerals including iodine, selenium, calcium, zinc, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Iodine is an important trace element in human nutrition and is essential for thyroid hormone production.

  9. Yellowfin tuna contains just 0.34 ppm of mercury in its flesh. US FDA categorizes yellowfin in the "good choice" section considering mercury levels in its flesh. The recommendation is consumption of 1 serving (4 ounces) per week.


See the table below for in depth analysis of nutrients:

Yellowfin tuna, raw, Nutritive value per 100 g. (Source: USDA National Nutrient database)

Principle Nutrient Value Percent of RDA
Energy 109 Kcal 5.5%
Carbohydrates 0 g 0%
Protein 24.4 g 43.5%
Total Fat 0.49 g 2.5%
Cholesterol 39 mg 13%
Dietary Fiber 0 g 0%
Vitamins
Folate total 2 μg 0.5%
Niacin 18.5 mg 116%
Pyridoxine 0.933 mg 72%
Riboflavin 0.115 mg 9%
Thiamin 0.118 mg 10%
Vitamin-A 60 IU 2%
Vitamin B-12 2.08 mg 87%
Vitamin-C 0 mg 0%
Vitamin-D 69 IU 11.5%
Vitamin E(α-Tocopherol) 0.24 mg 1.6%
Electrolytes
Sodium 45 mg 3%
Potassium 441 mg 9.4%
Minerals
Calcium 4 mg 0.4%
Iron 0.77 mg 9.6%
Magnesium 35 mg 9%
Phosphorus 278 mg 40%
Selenium 90.6 mg 165%
Zinc 0.37 mg 3.3%
Omega-3 fats (PUFA)
EPA (20:5 n-3) 0.012 g --
DPA (22:5 n-3) 0.004 g --
DHA (22:6 n-3) 0.088 g --

Buying

Yellowfin tuna is sold mainly fresh (chilled whole fish, loins, fillets), frozen (whole fish, loins), canned, and also smoked.

Major yellowfin tuna processing countries are Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Mexico, Spain, and Italy.

US, Japan, and Europe are the major importing countries for yellowfin tuna.

Buy "sustainable" labeled canned tuna in olive oil. It is marketed as "light tuna" in contrast to "light-chunk tuna" of skipjack and "white tuna" of albacore. For fillets and steaks, buy at least No. 2 grade and above. Sashimi-grade is No.1.

Storage

Ahi tuna dries out quickly, so place in an air-sealed container and store it on the bottom shelf of your refrigerator. Fresh tune flesh is pinkish-red but turns dark brown when frozen, which is fine.

Store tuna steaks at a temperature below 40°F and should be eaten within 2 days of purchase. If not, place it in the freezer section until you are ready to cook it (for up to 3 months).

Food uses

Yellowfin (ahi) tuna is one of the most popular and versatile seafood. Its firm flesh is more flavorful than albacore and leaner and more affordable than Bluefin.

Canned ahi tuna is usually immersed in garlic olive oil.

Here are some serving ideas:

Yellowfin tuna-pan seared
Yellowfin tuna-pan seared. Photo credit: Vmiramontes

  • Prepare Ahi tuna Poke (Hawaiian raw-tuna salad) recipe. Cut sashimi-grade Ahi tuna into small cubes. Place in a bowl and add onion, green onion, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili garlic sauce, and sesame seeds.

  • Serve pan-seared tuna with salad greens. Do not overcook.

  • Marinated grilled ahi tuna steak is a popular dish across U.S restaurants. Enjoy it alone or in sandwiches.

  • Prepare American style tuna-casserole.

  • Their firm texture and mild taste make the Yellowfin ideal for sashimi.

  • Ahi tuna is often substituted for other tuna for vitello tonnato (Piedmontese), an Italian dish that also includes cold veal, anchovies, capers, sandwiches, sauces, omelets and casseroles.


Safety profile

The Methyl-mercury content of fresh/frozen Yellowfin tuna is 0.354 PPM, and hence, categorized as the "Good Choice" fish. FDA advises that one (including pregnant women) can eat 1 serving a week from the "Good Choice" list (adult 1 serving = 4 ounces).

To compare canned albacore tuna and fresh/frozen bigeye tuna have 0.350 PPM and 0.689 PPM of mercury respectively.

However, for pregnant women, U.S FDA recommends the consumption of only cooked fish; pregnant women should avoid eating raw fish.



Also read ≻≻-

≺≺ Sockeye salmon nutrition facts and health benefits.

≺≺ Brook trout nutrition facts and health benefits.

≺≺ Dover sole nutrition facts and health benefits.

≺≺ Back to Seafood from Yellowfin tuna nutrition facts and health benefits.


Further reading (Links opens in new window):

  1. Species Fact Sheets -Thunnus albacares.

  2. Biological characteristics of tuna -Thunnus albacares-FAO Fisheries division.

  3. Mercury Levels in Commercial Fish and Shellfish.

  4. USDA National Nutrient database.

  5. Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution.

  6. Canned tuna- US-FDA Regulations.




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