TUNA: THE FOOD OF CHAMPIONS
The 1970’s was the heyday of bodybuilding’s unsung heroes – when men pushed rusted steel for the pure love of the sport. These misunderstood giants forged ahead during a time when nobody outside the musty gym walls really gave a damn. They carved their own path that would set the precedence even for today’s standards.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was the ring leader to these misfits, with iconic names like Zane, Columbu, Robinson, Katz, Mentzer, Corney, Draper, Padilla, Dickerson, Beckles, Ferrigno, Waller, Oliva, and Platz. These were the giants, the men that took bodybuilding and made it a household name. They stood on the foundation for which men like Eugen Sandow, Charles Atlas, John Grimek, Reg Park, Bill Pearl, and Steve Reeves built. They had a greater understanding about nutrition and the importance of dietary protein than their predecessors, and took the sport to the next level.
At that time beef was a bodybuilder’s favorite muscle building food, but when it came to contest prep, there wasn’t anything greater or more convenient than canned tuna. It’s funny to think that whey protein wasn’t even in the picture for these guys back then. They just knew they needed to eat lots of good foods, and supplement with a solid source of low-fat protein.
Tuna (by today’s standards) is still a wonderful source of protein, but now we hear things like “low in saturated fats” and “high in Omega-3 fatty acids.” And we now know that fish high in Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, relieve arthritis, prevent heart disease, increase cognitive brain function, and aid in brain development for young children. Along with our ever-growing awareness and knowledge, we’ve also learned that certain fish which are rich in these healthful fatty acids (like tuna and salmon for instance) can also contain unsafe levels of mercury if consumed more than three times a week.
On a positive note, its also been discovered that the level of mercury depends on the type of fish, where it’s from, how their raised, and how their caught. Below is a quick list of some of the most popular “good” fish choices containing the lowest incidence of mercury.
The following fish are abundant, well managed, and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways.
• * Tuna: Albacore (pole-caught) including canned
• Tuna: Skipjack (pole-caught) including canned
• Salmon: (Alaska wild)
• Catfish (US farmed)
• Cod: Pacific (Alaska longline)
• Crab: Dungenes and Stone
• Halibut: Pacific
• Lobster: Spiny (US)
• Scallops (farmed off-bottom)
• Striped Bass (farmed or wild)
• Trout: Rainbow (farmed)
• Tuna: Bigeye, Yellowfin (pole-caught)
• Tuna: canned white Albacore (pole-caught)
• Clams (wild)
• Cod: Pacific (US trawled)
• Crab: Blue, King (US), Snow
• Mahi Mahi (US)
• Oysters (wild)
• Salmon (WA wild)
• Swordfish (US)
• Tilapia (Central America, farmed)
Recently I was fortunate enough to come across a small family owned company that pole-catches tuna aboard their 95-foot fishing vessel called the St. Jude. Once caught, the fish are immediately blast frozen to ensure optimum freshness. Then they hand filet each fish, it’s raw-packed in the can, sealed, then cooked to preserve the natural juices. Believe me when I tell you that this is by far the best tasting canned tuna that I’ve ever had. Aside from its low occurrence of mercury (* see the above list), you just cannot compare it to any of the highly manufactured brands – it doesn’t even come close!
You can visit their website and order directly from them at www.tunatuna.com.
Now I couldn’t write an article about tuna without giving you my favorite tuna sandwich recipe! This is one that I wrote for my Muscle Chow column in Men’s Health magazine. I’ve been making this sandwich for as long as I can remember. It’s clean, easy to do, and packed full of the perfect post-workout nutrients you need.
AVEDON’S TUNA SANDY from MUSCLE CHOW
• Drain and rise 1 can of low sodium tuna, drop it into a bowl and break it apart with a fork.
• Add 1 tablespoon of honey mustard.
• Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar (depending on how moist you like it).
• Add a little thinly diced celery (about a half stalk).
• 1 Apple – use one wedge (peeled & diced) for the tuna, then save the rest of the wedges to garnish your plate and eat with your sandwich.
• A pinch of fresh ground black pepper.
• Mix with a fork, and throw half the mix onto two slices of Ezekiel bread.
• Store the other half in the fridge for another post-workout or anytime meal.
For a healthful tip, always concentrate on chewing well to assist with proper digestion. Also, be sure to drink a full glass of room temperature purified water after eating to help with gastric emptying. These simple things will ensure that you reap all the nutritional benefits, especially if this is a post-workout meal.
So do as our forefathers in bodybuilding did, and make tuna a part of your muscle building rotation. Whether you chow it straight from a can, eat it sushi style, or grill it, tuna is easy, convenient, packed with protein, low in fat, and choc full of Omega 3 fatty acids.
Live a High Integrity Life,
The above list came from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Guide. To learn more, visit www.seafoodwatch.org, where you can see the updated version of this list, plus a lot more. They have great usable info about eating the best choices of sushi, plus they offer a free app for your mobile device so you can access the Seafood Watch Guide wherever you are.
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