Let’s talk about tuna today – how it fits into a heart healthy diet and how you can make these delicious Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps. While February is designated National Heart Month, you can take steps anytime to take better care of your heart and start eating more heart healthy foods. Tuna happens to be one of those foods.
What makes tuna a healthy choice?
What’s so great about tuna – canned tuna to be exact? First, it’s filled with a fairly inexpensive, good quality protein while remaining low in calories and fat. A 3 oz. serving of tuna provides nearly 22 gm of protein, 99 calories, and about 0.7 gm of fat. Tuna also supplies a good amount of B vitamins, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids, which may help lower the risk of heart disease.
However, tuna also contains mercury. And high levels of mercury can affect the nervous system negatively. Thankfully, most people don’t consume enough to be concerned about the mercury in tuna. However, pregnant women and small children should be more cautious and limit their consumption to about 6 oz. per week.
How to make a healthier tuna salad
While canned tuna is healthy and tastes great by itself, many people like to mix it with mayonnaise and pickle relish, making a tuna salad sandwich. There’s nothing wrong with that. But I think we can do better by adding fresh veggies for added nutrition and crunch, and subbing in healthier fats for the traditional mayonnaise.
To make these Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps, I added finely chopped purple cabbage, celery, green onions, and shredded carrots. This is a great way to boost the veggie content in your diet while providing a little more interest and crunch factor to the salad. Add whatever veggies you like or have on hand. It’s doesn’t always have to be celery and carrots. Try jicama and cucumbers or peppers and parsnips. Be creative and see what you like best.
As for mayonnaise, think outside the box and look at ingredients like Greek yogurt, mustard, olive oil, or lemon juice. I used a combination of all three of these with a little bit of olive oil-based mayonnaise. Smashed avocado or hummus are also good choices.
After it’s prepared, try serving your tuna salad in something other than bread, like the butter lettuce I used for these Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps. Campari tomatoes stuffed with tuna make a wonderful meal for lunch. Or it you’re looking for an appetizer, try these Southwest Tuna Stuffed Mini-Peppers. However you serve it up, tuna salad can be a wonderful heart-healthy addition to your diet.
Tuna Salad Lettuce Wraps
- 2 5 oz. cans tuna packed in water, drained
- 4 butter lettuce leaves
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped purple cabbage
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped celery
- 2 Tbsp. finely chopped green onion
- 2 Tbsp. shredded carrot
- 2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt
- 4 tsp. olive oil mayonnaise
- 4 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1/8 tsp. dill weed
- 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
- 1/8 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/8 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
- 1 Pinch of red pepper
- 4 grape tomatoes for garnish
- Mix all ingredients, except butter lettuce and tomatoes, together in a small bowl.
- To serve, place one butter lettuce leaf on each plate. Spoon prepared tuna salad on top of the lettuce leaves, dividing it evenly between the 4 leaves. Garnish with sliced grape tomatoes and serve immediately.