Why canned fish has become a social media star

Once considered a boring pantry basic, a new generation of young foodies are catching on to the amazing health benefits of canned fish. Here’s why.

Canned fish is really hot right now (yes, you read that correctly).

Fancy cans of tuna, salmon and sardines are making waves across social media platforms.

In fact, these food products are trending so hard they’ve even generated their own TikTok hashtags.

So, what’s all the hype about?

Three great reasons to jump on the #tinnedfish bandwagon

Canned fish is healthy

The health benefits of eating fish are widely known.

But how does the nutritional value of canned or tinned fish stack up against fresh varieties?

Surprisingly well, according to nutritionist Kristen Beck.

“Due to the canning process, the nutrient levels remain relatively stable, so canned fish is certainly a healthy option,” Kristen says.

Everyday Nutrition consultant dietitian Liz Radicevic says just like fresh fish, tinned fish is a rich source of lean protein, omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins D and B12, and minerals such as iron, zinc and choline.

“Fatty acids are important because they fuel good heart health and brain function, and they are anti-inflammatory,” Liz says.

“And choline, while less well known, is essential for regular body function, memory, mood and muscle control.”

Canned fish doesn’t break the bank

The social media craze may be largely driven by luxury brands, expensive delicacies and pretty labels, but Liz says tinned fish doesn’t need to cost a fortune.

“With the cost of living being what it is at the moment, tinned fish is such a great option because it is so affordable,” Liz says.

“Remember, it’s what’s inside the can that counts, not the packaging.”

But she warns that you do get what you pay for, up to a certain price point.

“The really cheap, generic brands can sometimes use poorer-quality ingredients, while spending a little more means you will likely get better, fresher fish and healthier ingredients like extra virgin olive oil,” Liz says.

“But you don’t need to buy the really high-end brands to get these benefits – just check the label.”

You’ll get convenience in a can

One of the biggest advantages of canned fish is its convenience, Kristen says.

“Fish is one of the best sources of animal-based proteins available, so I actively encourage people to eat fish regularly,” Kristen says.

“And because canned fish stores well in the cupboard, it’s a readily accessible way to increase your fish consumption and take advantage of the health benefits.”

Being highly portable, it’s ideal as a nutritious work lunch or post-workout protein boost, she suggests.

Which is better: packed in oil or brine?

Both Liz and Kristen agree the healthiest choice is extra virgin olive oil.

“Extra virgin olive oil has been proven to be the best oil to support heart health, so opt for this variety if you can,” Liz says.

“If cost is a concern, you can always buy (fish in) springwater and add a splash of extra virgin olive oil yourself for a slightly cheaper version of the high-end brands.”

Like any canned product, Liz says sodium levels are the biggest concern, so she recommends avoiding brine, or rinsing the fish thoroughly, which can drastically reduce the sodium content.

“Anything high in salt can raise blood pressure, and increase the risk of stroke and the onset of heart disease,” she says.

Other things you should know about canned fish

Our experts say other things to consider include:

  • Mercury: Australian guidelines recommend pregnant women and children under six limit their intake of fish to two to three times per week.
  • Sustainability: To buy sustainable fish and seafood in Australia look for products displaying the Marine Stewardship Council blue tick. This means the seafood has been caught at a level to ensure they’ll be around in the future.

Written by Dimity Barber.