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.

Not Bad For Training Only Three Days A Week!

Because it's three days a week with soul crunching intensity non stop for the past 33 years.

There's no gimmick to it and it means being uncompromisingly all in for your workouts and with your nutrition.

I don't think there's that much that special about me.

There's nothing enhanced, nothing boosted by testosterone and there weren't any special "supplements" along the way.

Just three days of blistering hard work each week and meticulous attention to what I eat.

Being 90% on point each week means you are 100% off after 10 weeks and I can't emphasize enough how much of a difference unshakeable consistency makes to your overall results.

Most of the natural athletes didn't get where they are by any genetic advantage, they just did what is so very rare- which is stick to their process 100%.

It's not easy as it's not always easy and certainly not always popular, but you owe it to yourself to see just how far you can go if you go all in!

Looking forward to seeing your results and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining #naturalbodybuildingmotivation

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What I Eat To Stay Lean and Keep Building Muscle All Year Round.

If there every was a "secret" to how I consistently stay in shape (and almost 20 years since my last competition) the answer would be my diet.

Diet is the deciding factor in what your body looks like and your overall performance and I want to stress that while this is a layout of the foods I eat on a daily basis, it's not a blueprint for your YOU should be eating.

What it can be is an example of what it takes to maintain a certain degree of size and muscularity at all times as a natural athlete, and also the underlying principle to how I select my foods.

Which is that I don't eat junk foods or highly processed foods and I only drink water.

(No protein shakes, ever!)

If you can start with that, there's no doubt that you will be on the right track in terms of your nutrition.

So stay away from processed foods, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingdiet #diet #whatieatinaday #mydiet #naturalbodybuildingvideos #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #drugfreebodybuilding #healthyeating #noproteinshakes #excelsior #bodybuilding #bodybuildingdiet

125 10

Post workout physique check in.

The contest gets closer and closer as the sun meanders across the sky, as my contest is and always will be, did I do everything I possibly could that day to improve?

Did I train hard enough?

Did I push it enough?

The dietary part isn't an issue.

It hasn't been for many years as I always make sure that my nutrition is on point, and there's no leeway on that front.

I don't feel good when I'm not eating optimally, and I respect myself enough to not settle into a place where not feeling my best is the norm.

And to be honest, it feels really good to put my head down at the end of the day knowing that I gave it my all.

Not that I was the best or was even necessarily successful at everything that I set out to accomplish, but knowing that I gave everything nonetheless.

It's a feeling I want everyone to have.

To sleep soundly knowing that you gave it your all.

That you didn't miss an opportunity to improve on what you are passionate about, because in so doing, you experience an eagerness to do the same the next day.

It's the ultimate contest and I invite everyone to submit their application forms, as it's one of the few competitions where everyone who does the work and shows up, is in the winner's circle.

Keep striving, keep pushing and as always, Excelsior! #naturallyintense

(Thanks @indi.anna.r or taking the shot, as I know your arm was probably shaking after that workout!)

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining #naturalbodybuildingmotivation

159 13

Motivation vs Discipline. What You Really Need To Be Successful!

I am often asked what was my motivation to keep going starting off as a skinny 125lb kid who no one believed could ever be a successful bodybuilder.

The answer is that motivation didn't have that much to do with it.

Motivation may have played a part in getting me started, but it was discipline that got me to where I wanted to be.

Motivation is fleeting and ephemeral, it's not always going to be there and on the days when you don't feel like eating right or training hard, you need a disciplined practice to see you through.

A disciplined practiced based on doing what you need to do to be successful regardless of the circumstances.

That's how I made it through all those tough times when I felt I wasn't getting anywhere, and it's what will help you as well.

So forget motivation, focus on building a disciplined practice, know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #nosteroids #fitnessgoals #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #excelsior #fitover40 #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #disciplineovermotivation #disciplineequalsfreedom #discipline #motivation#fitness #mindset #selfdiscipline #fitnessmotivation #disciplinequotes #workout #disciplineiskey

110 27

Kevin's Ultimate Secret Six Pack Abs Tip!

If you ever wondered how I maintain a six pack all year round and have kept that six pack for decades on end, here's the secret.

This is one tip that will honestly get you on the path to a six pack.

There's no magic to it.

But if you follow this simple piece of advice, you will be able to do a lot more than get yourself a six pack, as it's a proven formula for success.

Give it a try and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#sixpack #sixpackabs #6pack #6packabs #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingvideo #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #sixpacktips #drugfreebodybuilding #abs

165 18

Happy Archery Day, everyone!!!

Yeah, it's a thing and can't say how much it's my thing!

To be honest, I am a barebow shooter and almost never shoot my compound bow (the monster in my hands) but it's all really good fun!

If you haven't tried archery or are thinking about doing it again, go give it a shot (no pun intended!!!)

And as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#archery #archeryday #bowtech #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuilding #fitover40 #blackandwhite #bowtech

135 19

Do You Have Good Genetics for Natural Bodybuilding?

I don't believe it's the question that needs to be asked.

Far too many, myself included, who went on to be successful natural bodybuilders would never have been the men and women you would expect to have the genetics for bodybuilding.

But we put in the work, the years, the dedication and the consistency, and so what matters isn't the question of genetics, but rather do you have the passion, the drive and the discipline to train hard and focus on your diet nonstop for years on end to realize your potential?

That's the real question, and yes, there are men and women who have great genetics for natural bodybuilding, but there are even more who would be amazing onstage but don't know it because they didn't believe enough in themselves to put in the time to see how far they could go.

So I am here to say that I believe you have it in you to do amazing things, so if it's your goal, or even if you just want to improve the way you look, stick with it and don't quit!

Know that I believe in you and as always, Excelsior!!! #naturallyintense

#naturalbodybuilding #nosteroids #fitnessgoals #bodytransformation #nodrugs #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuilder #naturalbodybuildingvideos #excelsior #fitover40 #personaltrainer #naturalbodybuildingtips #naturalbodybuildingmotivation #beleiveinyourself

157 17

Nope it's not a contest cut- it's just another day on the Path.

There are two ways to get cut, the fast way that requires going to extremes and which is inevitably temporary.

Or the Path-based way. Whereby your lifestyle and sustainable healthy practices get you there and keeps you there.

It takes time. It takes patience but it's an extremely honest endeavor.

If you put in the work and stay consistent with your training and following a processed food free and healthy diet, excellence is just a matter of time.

It takes time but as long as you draw breath, you have the time and you can do this.

So take the Path-based way and as always, Excelsior!!!

And my thanks to my son @reid_443 for snapping the shot, and the approval rating! 😂

#naturalbodybuilding #naturalbodybuilder #fitover40 #homegym #drugfreebodybuilding #gymselfie #hometraining

260 32

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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.


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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

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