Sardines are a tiny fish that have a big nutritional punch. Very few other foods pack the same about of nutrients per ounce. They are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and B12, calcium, and protein. They are a healthy convenient food that is simple to make and taste great.
Real food is often more expensive than processed foods, sardines are the exception. Canned sardines are one of the few nutrient-dense, super-healthy, budget-friendly portable fast foods available. They are sustainably fished and low in mercury, unlike bigger fish.
Have you tried sardines? Most haven’t. They can’t stomach the thought of them and have no idea how to cook them. If fact, you are thinking why am I reading a post about them. Hang in there, give me about 5 minutes and you might want to give them a try.
So, why are they so healthy? And how do you eat them?
Here are a few of the many reasons to make sardines a regular part of your diet.
Sardines are rich in many essential nutrients, including protein and omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, B12, vitamin D, and more. These nutrients play a central role in everything from metabolism to heart health and cellular function. They prevent nutritional deficiencies and keep you feeling at your best.
Sardines have an excellent fatty acid profile. The amount of fat per can will depend on what the sardines are packed in. Olive oil will add more monosaturated fat. An unhealthy fat like soybean oil will add in more polyunsaturated fatty acids. These are oxidized fats that are inflammatory to our bodies. Sardines themselves have a great ratio of fat. Their ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6 is 12:1. They are an excellent way to balance out the unhealthy Omega-6 levels in the standard American diet.
Why do we need omega-3? Omega-3 reduces inflammation. Chronic inflammation increases your risk for developing cardiovascular disease, cancer, and arthritis. They can also lower blood pressure and reduce blood clots.
Sardines are a complete protein, which means that they contain all nine essential amino acids the human body cannot make on its own. A single serving contains 22 grams of protein.
Sardines are an excellent source of calcium. Consuming foods rich in calcium can prevent bone mineral loss and help to heal broken bones following injuries. Sardines have tiny pin bones that contain calcium. Don’t get weird about the bones, they are so small and soft that you won’t even notice them. Sardines are a great choice for those that are allergic to dairy, lactose intolerant, or need more calcium in their diet.
Sardines are one of the few food sources of vitamin D. One serving contains 22% of the DV. Vitamin D is vital for our overall health. Today, many people suffer from vitamin D deficiency which can impact our immune system, hormone health, and health as a whole. Eating foods like sardines and getting more time in the sun can positively influence our vitamin D levels.
Sardines are the perfect pack and go snack. Canned sardines are shelf-stable, edible right from the can and they take up very little space. To mellow out the taste, pack some crackers. I also like to keep a stock in my pantry for when I need a quick meal on the go and don’t have time to cook.
Low in Toxins
Mercury and heavy metals in fish is indeed a concern. Sardines are considered
one of the safest fish to consume due to their small size. Sardines eat smaller organisms like plankton and don’t live as long. This means that they contain much less mercury and other heavy metals than larger fish.
Farm-raised fish can be less humane and nutrient-dense than traditional fishing. Overfishing is harmful to our overall ecosystem of the ocean. Wild sardines are still plentiful and don’t show the same signs of deletion that many species are experiencing. Sardines are the most sustainably fished option. When you purchase canned sardines, look for the certified sustainable label.
Buying and cooking with Sardines
When buying canned sardines, choose ones that are packed in olive oil rather than soybean oil. You can also get them packed in water. This is a good option if you are looking for ways to reduce your fat intake. Check out the label and look for certified wild-caught and sustainable. Also, be sure to check the expiration date on the can before purchasing.
Canned sardines require minimal preparation. For canned sardines packed in oil, you can gently rinse them under water to remove excess oil before serving if you want.
Here are a few quick serving ideas for canned sardines.
How do I eat sardines?
Congratulations you made it to the end. Did I convince you to give sardines a try? Sardines are a delicious, budget-friendly, nutrient-packed little fish. Buy one can on your next grocery shopping trip, take a deep breath, and give them a try. You may learn to love them!
To learn more about my nutrition and health coaching services, please get in touch. Call me at 303-585-1025. I look forward to hearing from you.
Hello! I'm Jori Zimmerman, a nutritionist and owner of Nutrition Savvy. I work with individuals that are looking to make dietary and lifestyle changes that will lead them to living a healthier and higher quality of life.