HomedietTongol Tuna- A Safe Real Food Choice

Tongol Tuna- A Safe Real Food Choice

tongol tuna is low in mercury
Tongol tuna (Thunnus tonggol) drawing by Robbie N. Cada.

Tongol Tuna- A Safe & Lower Mercury Food Choice


Over the past few years there have been many concerns about the dangers of high mercury levels in fish, in particular that mainstay of the weight loss diets, canned tuna. Tuna is an often ubiquitous item on the daily menu for anyone serious about getting into shape. From fitness models and competitive bodybuilders to regular members of the general population interested in looking better, tuna offers a fast, convenient and easy way to satisfy your protein requirements. With over 20 grams of high quality protein in a 6 oz can, and a healthy serving of omega-3 fatty acids, tuna is the ultimate on-the-go-food for many in the health conscious circles. (The salt free and water packed varieties, that is!) While the ideal would be to always consume fresh fish that has undergone as little processing as possible, given the difficulties of always having fresh and healthy food at hand, canned tuna is an intelligent compromise as long as it is consumed in moderation. The canning process itself, which dates back to the turn of the 20th century isn’t that involved, and as the fishes are always wild caught, you don’t have the problems with antibiotics and other chemicals used in modern fish farming. The canning process involves the tuna being pre-cooked then cleaned, filleted, canned and sealed. The sealed can is then heated for 2 to 4 hours to ensure that no germs or bacteria remain- thus extending the shelf life of the fish inside.

In this article I will try to give some insight into the problem posed by mercury in popular canned tuna as well as introduce tongol tuna fish; a low mercury tuna fish that is my recommendation for anyone that has tuna in their diet. Mercury levels aside, always be sure to choose canned tongol tuna that is packed in water and without added salt or high sodium vegetable broths. If you are unable to find a salt free variety, you can always wash your tuna thoroughly with hot water to get as much of the excess sodium out as possible. That said, here is everything you ever wanted to know about tuna and mercury levels.


Tuna & Mercury Levels


Nearly all fish contain some amounts of methylmercury, from both natural and man-made sources. Factory smokestack emissions are high in toxic mercury emissions gets into rivers, lakes and oceans when it returns to the earth through precipitation. The mercury is then broken down by bacteria into a form that’s easily absorbed by insects and other small organisms. In the predatory cycle, the mercury moves up the food chain as small fish eat the small organisms and big fish eat the smaller fish. The higher up the food chain, the higher the levels of mercury as concentrations accumulate in large predators such as shark, swordfish and our favorite, tuna.

Mercury levels in tuna fish
Figure 1. Mercury levels in canned tuna fish Source: Environmental Working Group analysis of Food and Drug Administration testing data.

In the year 2000 the FDA came out with the first of several warnings about the significant mercury levels in canned tuna fish, especially for children and pregnant women. Mercury, very much like lead, can cause severe neurological impairment, inability to focus and pay attention, delayed language development, impaired memory, vision and motor coordination, and problems processing information. It affects children and pregnant women most severely as mercury’s neurotoxicty can harm the fetus and negatively impact the development of young children.

This table provides guidelines on how much canned tuna it is safe to eat, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. While mercury poses the most serious health threat to children and women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant, others may also wish to use this list as a guide.

If you weigh: Don’t eat more than one can every:
White Albacore Chunk Light
20 lbs 10 weeks 3 weeks
30 lbs 6 weeks 2 weeks
40 lbs 5 weeks 11 days
50 lbs 4 weeks 9 days
60 lbs 3 weeks 7 days
70 lbs 3 weeks 6 days
80 lbs 2 weeks 6 days
90 lbs 2 weeks 5 days
100 lbs 2 weeks 5 days
110 lbs 12 days 4 days
120 lbs 11 days 4 days
130 lbs 10 days 4 days
140 lbs 10 days 3 days
150+ lbs 9 days 3 days
Source: Food and Drug Administration test results for mercury and fish, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s determination of safe levels of mercury.


At the time of the warnings about tuna and mercury levels, I was an up and coming natural bodybuilder who ate often as much as five cans a day. That being said, it was a real blow to my dietary habits, and I lowered my intake, but not too drastically. What made it worse was that albacore tuna (the better tasting one) had much higher levels than chunk light tuna, which I found to be unbearable , so tuna fish no longer had a place in my diet as a staple and I found other protein sources to supplement my intake.

As time went on, I became more and more health conscious. The idea of fish in a can itself was never a savory prospect and I began to see the wholesomeness of foods as being more important than convenience. Over the years I have made every effort imaginable to eat foods only in their natural form as much as is humanly possible, and I would go to any lengths to ensure that my foods come from as safe sources as possible. (If I didn’t have to work as much as I do, I would probably be growing, hunting and gathering my own food, to be honest.)

However, although I had weaned myself off from tuna fish, many of my personal training clients still relied it as a ready-to-eat protein source. Given my stance against the use of protein powders and food bars, tuna was in some ways the lesser of two evils for those whose lives were a constant blur of motion. Nevertheless, I always kept my eyes open for alternative solutions and advised that if they did eat tuna fish, the choice should be chunk light versions over albacore, as it is lower in mercury.

tongol tuna fish can

Tongol Tuna: Lower Mercury Levels and A Better Taste Than Regular Tuna


Several years ago I happened to find tongol tuna fish at one of the local organic markets that I frequent. I picked up a can and looked it up when I got home, as I had never heard of tongol tuna before in my life. Tongol tuna has negligible mercury levels since it is much further down the food chain than its albacore and blue fin cousins as since it is a much smaller fish. Tongol tuna is found in the waters not very far offshore in the Indian and Western Pacific Oceans. Main producers are Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Iran, but tongol tuna from Malaysia is the most environmentally responsible. Malaysia has sound population management practices in place to help protect the tongol tuna populations from being depleted and the strictest enforcement measures to see to it that there is not a high bycatch of sharks and other fishes. With fish populations being decreased at such an alarming rate, I think that the ecological impact that our foods have should always be considered as well. With other species of tuna like albacore, bigeye tuna, blackfin tuna, pacific bluefin tuna, northern bluefin tuna, southern bluefin tuna and yellowfin tuna added to the Greenpeace International red list of fishes that are sourced from unsustainable fisheries, it is critical that all of our fish choices support responsible fishing.


In my own experience with tongol tuna, as much as I was impressed by the low mercury levels and responsible fishing practices, what really stood out was the taste. Tongol tuna doesn’t taste bad at all! Having scarfed down thousands of cans of tuna fish over the years, I know all too well how the taste and smell can get to you over time. I always saw it as a necessary evil, but tongol tuna doesn’t have the strong smell, or an overly fishy taste. The flesh is much lighter and quite good, words I certainly never thought I would ever use to describe tuna fish. Not only does tongol tuna taste better than albacore, but it is also cheaper. We live in a demand driven market, so as more people start consuming tongol tuna, it might become a bit more expensive. In fact I have seen the price go up significantly in the higher end stores here in New York over the past 5 years. It is available packed in spring water with no salt added and some even come in pop top cans, which make opening and eating a breeze. There are also no added ingredients to many of the brands, no soy, vegetable broth or MSG additives, just tongol tuna and water, which keeps the sodium levels low. So at the end of the day, taking into consideration the lower mercury levels, affordable price and great taste, tongol tuna is one of the best kept secrets for someone looking for a wholesome quick and easy meal. My clients can’t stop raving about it, and with good reason. While I personally prefer get the majority of my fish from fresh sources, my preference is and always will be the tropical fishes that I grew up eating in Trinidad, I am not at all against having a can of tongol tuna on occasion and I encourage everyone to give it a try.

High Intensity Bodyweight Training: Ballistic Pushups & Dips!

This was a tough one!

Starts out with ballistic push ups (like clap pushups but without the clap as my wrist is still not 100%) nonstop for 20 reps, then all out on dips for 10 reps.

To say it was painful would be an understatement, but you just have to push through and keep on going.

Still training, hope you are too and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #chestday #chesttraining #naturalbodybuildingtips #pushups #dips #bodyweighttraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #calesthenics

13 2

Kevin's Unconventional Biceps Training- 3-6 Minutes a Week!

In this video I go over my biceps training using the Naturally Intense High Intensity Training protocols that helped me go from having arms measuring 11.5 to 12 inches to 18 inches drug free!

It's an unconventional approach for certain, but it's one that's helped my arms grow and the hundreds of men and women I have trained over the past 30 plus years.

Now, my success isn't due to being genetically gifted, as it took me the better part of 11 years to get my arms up to those measurements.

Which is significant as it works and been been proven time and time again to work for the average man or woman trying to grow their arms without drugs.

It's my hope that these high intensity training protocols can help you as much as they helped me!

Click on my bio link to see the full video on my YouTube channel and thanks as always for taking the time to look at my work!!! Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #armworkout #bicepsworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #biceps #armtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #barbellcurls

55 8

At the Lancaster Classic Day 2 Elimination Rounds Against European Champion, and World Record Holder Leo Pettersen @leo_barebow_archer

I don't talk much about it but I'm also a competitive barebow archer (surprise!) and last Saturday I had the honor of making it to Day 2 at the Lancaster Archery Classic in the Barebow Division, as I made the top 64 out of 267 competitors and had a chance to shoot with some of the greatest barebow shooters on the planet!

I didn't make it past Leo, but it was a real rush to be there and a huge thanks to my coach, Joe MyGlyn @prolinearchery for helping me get there.

Thanks as well to my good friend @sean_chan33 for all of his help from the very start, to my line buddy Aaron Shea for taking the shot and showing up to support!

My thanks as well to rob_kaufhold for putting on and promoting one of the best archery tournaments on earth!

Thanks also to to everyone who took the time to send a supporting word and I am looking forward to next year!!! #naturallyintense #barebow

#lancasterclassic #lancasterarcheryclassic2024 #lancasterarchery #archery #fitover40 #barebowrecurve #targetarchery

38 9

Dumbo, Brooklyn circa 2004

This shot was taken as part of the promotion for my Naturally Intense DVD and was about a year after my last bodybuilding competition.

It was a grueling photoshoot.

We started at about 10 am and finished around 4pm and I was completely spent, but the more we shot the sharper I looked, so we kept on going.

It's nice to look back from time to time and as tired as I was, we all had a blast!

My thanks to @stephanie_corne_artwork, @https://pulse.ly/itgnag2dec and @ftaz1 for taking the shots!!!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #throwback #fifthavenuegym #5thavenuegym #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildinglifestyle #gymlife #gymmotivation #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #bodybuilding #blackandwhite #instablackandwhite #bnw

223 12

Can You Build An Impressive Physique Training Only At Home?


I stopped training in commercial gyms as of March 2020 and have been training at home ever since.

Initially I was admittedly worried that I might lose some of my gains or not make as much progress, but that certainly wasn't the case.

I've consistently continued to improve with my high intensity workouts and muscles have no idea where they are training.

As long as the criteria of adequate intensity and overload are met, there will be an adaptive response and your muscles will get bigger and stronger.

So don't worry at all about where you train, focus instead of what will be the best way for you to always be training!

Thanks for watching and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

97 3

Kevin's Three Day Training Spilt!

For the past 33 years I have trained three times a week with Naturally Intense High Intensity Training workouts lasting 10, 15 to 20 minutes max.

It's a training split tried and testes not only in it's helping me realize my goal of becoming a successful natural bodybuilder, but it's also helped hundreds of men and women over the past three decades.

I have tested just about every possible training split imaginable and for this particular style of high intensity training, this particular grouping consistently yields fantastic results.

I hope it helps you as much as it's helped me over the years and thanks so much for taking the time to look at my work.

Keep training hard and Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#trainingsplit #3daytrainingsplit #threedaytrainingsplit #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #naturalbodybuildingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #bodybuilding #highintensitytraining #highintensitytrainingtips

147 26

405 Stiff Leg Deadlift for 7 Reps! High Intensity Training.

First leg workout of the year and already pushing it!

I haven't done a stiff leg deadlift over 315lbs for about 3 years at this point, and I did my last set with 315lbs and comfortably got to 10 reps and decided I had far too much gas left in the tank and that I should go up in weight.

So I did.

I figured I might get a solid 6 reps in, but I made it to 7 and I think I could have gone on to get a full 10 reps BUT that's when good judgement prevailed.

As a bodybuilder having not trained this heavy for so many years, the shock of this much weight would be more than enough to stimulate muscle growth, and doing more reps wouldn't yield any greater returns, only increase the likelihood of injury.

It's not about the numbers, it's about training to a point where you achieve your goal, and it's important to have a goal in mind as a bodybuilder based on increasing muscle mass rather than hitting a particular number.

Besides, if in my 20's I never did more than 405lbs on a stiff leg deadlift, it doesn't make any sense going heavier than when I am almost 50!

Could I deadlift more at this point?

Absolutely but just because you can doesn't mean you should!

So keep those weights in a good working range, keep it safe and as always Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#hometraining #homeworkout #homeworkout #roguerack #highintensitytraining #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingvideos #backworkout #naturalbodybuildingtips #backtraining #highintensitytrainingtips #drugfreebodybuilding #fitoverforty #deadlift

71 20

Turning 50 in a few months...

Not much of a big deal for me as I still feel pretty much the same but I hope that my example helps show what can be done with a lifetime commitment to eating well and training consistently!

Thanks for coming along on the journey and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #healthylifestyle #fitover40 #drugfreebodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #natty #fitness

242 41

Please note that all material is copyrighted and DMCA Protected and can be reprinted only with the expressed authorization of the author

Click for a free copy!

Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, Kevin Richardson’s Naturally Intense High Intensity Training have helped hundreds lose weight and transform their bodies with his 10 Minute Workouts. One of the top natural bodybuilders of his time, Kevin is also the international fitness consultant for UNICEF and one of the best personal trainers in New York City.


Related Articles:

Oat Bran Cereal- The #1 Food Recommendation for Weight Loss



Environmental Protection Agency.

Food & Drug Administration

Montery Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/seafoodwatch.aspx?c=dd

“Greenpeace International Seafood Red list”. Greenpeace.org. 2003-03-17. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/seafood/red-list-of-species.


Kevin Richardson
Kevin Richardsonhttps://www.naturallyintense.net
Featured everywhere from the Wall Street Journal to CBS News, celebrity Personal Trainer NYC and with over 2.6 million readers of his blog, Kevin Richardson is the creator of Naturally Intense High Intensity Training, one of the top lifetime drug free bodybuilders of his time, the first International Fitness & Nutrition Consultant for UNICEF, 2020 and 8 Time Winner of the Best of Manhattan Awards for Personal Training and a world recognized authority on high intensity training. Kevin has helped thousands, from celebrities to CEO's over the past 30 years achieve their fitness goals with his 10 minute high-intensity workouts done just three times a week in conjunction with his holistic nutrition approach. You can learn more about about his diet and training services at www.naturallyintense.net

Most Popular

Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap