Sardines have a distinctive flavor that people either adore or despise—although no one can dispute that each little fish is flavorful and nutritious. These tiny silver fish are canned in oil, mustard sauce, water, hot sauce, and a variety of other seasonings. Sardines are whole rather than minced like canned salmon or tuna because each fish is smaller than 25 centimeters long and may be eaten skin, bones, and all.
Don’t be fooled by their appearance—if you like any other “fishy” fish like herring or salmon, you’ll probably enjoy sardines. They’re delicious served on crackers, piled on toast, mixed in a salad, or stuffed into peppers. And there are many more ways to enjoy them!
Sardines are high in protein, low in price, and taste delicious. One can (3.75 ounces) of sardines contains 22 grams of protein and costs between $1.50 and less per container.
Sardines are a healthy and delicious fish that is easy on the budget, but how nutritious are they? Here are three ways eating sardines might affect your health.
1 — They can help improve your bone health.
Sardines are high in two main minerals that help maintain your body’s bones as you age. Because the sardine bones are so tiny and soft, they are just left in the fish, which is fantastic news for your bones. “Sardines with the bones are a great source of non-dairy calcium, which is important for bone health,” explains Anya Rosen.
A can of sardines has 27 percent of the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for calcium, which is more than a cup of milk! Sardines’ bones are where most of their calcium is kept.
Sardines are not only high in calcium, but they’re also an excellent way to get vitamin D with your food. Vitamin D is a vitamin that is fat-soluble and the body needs it to absorb calcium. If you don’t have enough vitamin D, the calcium you consume won’t be effective in maintaining bone strength and integrity.
Vitamin D is produced in the skin by ultraviolet light from the sun. Vitamin D can be found in oily fish, like salmon, swordfish, mackerel, and sardines. Sardines provide 22% of your daily value.
2 — They might protect your heart.
Sardines are a simple way to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, since each can contains 1 gm of heart-protecting unsaturated fats. “A diet high in omega-3 fatty acids offers several advantages, including decreased cholesterol, inflammation, and the risk of developing cardiovascular disease,” says Bethany Keith, registered dietitian.
Researchers reviewed data from about 200,000 adults in a 2021 JAMA Internal Medicine study. They discovered that eating about 2 servings of oily fish each week significantly decreased the risk of major heart illness and mortality in individuals who already had it.
3 — They’ll give you an energy boost.
Sardines are high in vitamin B12, which is essential for a healthy nervous system. Vitamin B12, like calcium, vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and protein, comes from sardines. One can of sardines has 343% of the daily value for vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12 deficiency is most often seen in older persons, those with pernicious anemia (a condition that keeps the stomach from taking in B12), individuals with various stomach illnesses, and vegetarians and vegans. Vitamin B12 insufficiency can cause tiredness, shortness of breath, and a lack of energy.
While sardine oil does not give you the same surge of energy as coffee, including it and other B12 sources, as well as high-quality proteins, in your diet could help you feel more energetic on a daily basis.