According to research, nearly 50% of American households consume tuna every day, making it a staple food item. Among the most popular tuna varieties are albacore tuna and chunk light tuna, which are both high in protein. However, despite their similarity, there is a myriad of differences between the two.
|Albacore Tuna||Chunk Light Tuna|
|Made with albacore tuna||Made with either skipjack or yellowfin tuna|
|Meaty and chunky||Flaky|
|Distinct for its mild flavor||Distinct for its intense flavor|
|Usually more expensive||Usually cheaper|
|Has a higher calorie content||Has a lower calorie content|
|Has a lower protein, selenium, iron, niacin, and vitamin B-12 content||Has a higher protein, selenium, iron, niacin, and vitamin B-12 content|
|Has a higher mercury content||Has a lower mercury content|
|Poses more risks for children and pregnant/lactating women when consumed in excessive amounts||Safer for children and pregnant/lactating women|
Albacore is a tuna variety commonly found in temperate or tropical seas. Largely used for making canned tuna, albacore is considered a commercially-important fish species.
Meanwhile, chunk light tuna is a canned tuna variety commonly made with skipjack tuna, which is a small tuna that dwells in temperate or tropical seas.
Albacore vs Chunk Light Tuna
Both tuna varieties are widely sold in cans or pouches, making them an important food item. However, the difference between albacore and chunk light tuna, most specifically in terms of mercury content, greatly sets the two apart.
Canned albacore, as the name implies, is always made with white-meat albacore tuna. Chunk light tuna, on the other hand, can be made with more than just one tuna variety: skipjack or yellowfin tuna. Between these two tuna species, skipjack is more commonly used in the production of canned chunk light tuna.
Texture and Color
Canned albacore is notably meatier and chunkier compared to chunk light tuna, which is flaky in texture. In terms of color, the former picks up from the white color of the albacore – which explains why canned albacore is basically labeled as “white tuna” – while chunk light tuna is more of a pink color.
These tuna varieties bear a completely contrasting flavor profile. Albacore tuna is light and mild on the palate, while chunk light tuna has a more intense flavor.
The price for canned tuna selections greatly depends on the brand, but between the two, albacore tuna is usually sold at a higher price.
The average 3-ounce serving of albacore and chunk light tuna have slight differences when it comes to nutritional content. Chunk light tuna’s calorie content is lower by 10 kcal and it is higher in protein, selenium, iron, niacin, and vitamin B-12. But while albacore runs a bit lower on these aspects, its omega-3 fats, which are good for the heart, are over three times as much as that in chunk light tuna variants.
Based on studies conducted by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), albacore tuna’s mercury content is around three times higher than that of the average chunk light tuna. However, chunk light tuna made with yellowfin nearly equals albacore tuna’s mercury content, so it is always best for consumers to read labels and do their own research.
While both tuna varieties are high in protein, their difference in terms of mercury content draws a line between the two. When taken in excessive amounts, mercury can cause acute or chronic food poisoning, making it critical for children and pregnant/lactating women to limit their consumption.
For instance, according to EDF, the recommended intake of canned albacore for female adults, including pregnant women, is at around three 6-oz servings per month, while chunk light tuna can be safely consumed once a week. Additionally, children under 6 years old should limit their albacore intake to 3 oz per month – a figure that is three times lower than the recommended consumption of chunk light tuna for the same age group.