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Home » Blog » Are sardines good for you? Eating one can bring lots of health benefits.

Are sardines good for you? Eating one can bring lots of health benefits.

Whether you love or loathe them, sardines are having their moment. On TikTok, these once-doomsday pantry staples are now a chic snack, prompting curiosity about their health benefits.

Sardines, those small, nutrient-packed fish, are typically smoked or cooked and then canned with their skin and bones intact. They’re not only budget-friendly but also a stable seafood choice.

Despite sardines getting a bad rap compared to canned tuna, they are a culinary staple in many parts of Europe and Asia. In places like Portugal and Spain, tinned fish, known as ‘conservas,’ are considered a delicacy.

Eaten straight from the can or used as a pasta or rice topper, sardines are not just underrated; they’re downright delicious. But what about their nutritional value? Are sardines good for you? How do they compare to tuna and other canned fishes? Let’s explore the health benefits, potential risks, and the healthiest options.

Nutritional Overview

Nutritionally speaking, the content of canned sardines varies based on type, processing methods, added ingredients, and the brand. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a typical serving (about half a cup drained) of store-bought sardines in oil provides 200 calories, 22g of protein, 13g of fat, and negligible carbs, fiber, and sugar. Additionally, they contain essential nutrients like vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, selenium, potassium, iron, zinc, and choline.

Concerned about protein intake? Fear not! Sardines are an excellent source of protein, with just one can packing over 20g of it. Plus, they’re cost-effective, starting at around $3 per can.

If you’re watching your weight, sardines at 200 calories or less per serving make for a low-calorie protein source. Their high protein content aids in maintaining satiety, building lean muscle mass, stabilizing blood sugar, and boosting metabolism.

Health Benefits of Sardines

Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids (EPA and DHA), providing one of the highest levels among fish. These fatty acids support heart, brain, skin, and immune health.

For heart health, studies suggest that omega-3s in sardines may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by lowering blood triglycerides, blood pressure, and promoting healthy cholesterol levels. Sardines are also a boon for bone health, being a calcium-rich option that supports bone growth and development.

The brain-boosting benefits of sardines include nutrients essential during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Omega-3s are linked with memory, cognitive function, and mental well-being. Moreover, these fatty acids may lower the risk of cognitive decline and have positive effects on mental health.

For skin aficionados, sardines offer nutrients that combat inflammation. Omega-3s show promise in managing skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis.

Risks and Safety

Sardines are generally safe, except for those with fish allergies. They have low mercury levels and are considered a safe choice, even for pregnant women and children. However, some varieties may be high in sodium, which may be a concern for individuals with specific health conditions.

While sardines are a healthy addition to your diet, moderation is key. The FDA recommends two to three servings per week. Compared to canned tuna, sardines are often a healthier choice, being more nutrient-dense and lower in mercury.

And yes, even your furry friend can enjoy sardines as a treat. Packed with protein, omega-3s, and essential nutrients, they support heart, bone, and brain health in dogs. Just remember, moderation is key, and opt for varieties with lower sodium content.

When choosing sardines, look for those packed in extra virgin olive oil or a combo of EVOO and natural ingredients. Consider BPA-free cans and opt for wild-caught sardines for better flavor and nutrient variety.

Whether straight from the can or added to salads and pasta, sardines make for a tasty and nutritious meal. So, embrace the sardine trend – it’s more than just a snack, it’s a health boost

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Daisy Smith
Daisy Smith