Believe it or not, 202 0 was the year tinned sardines became fashionable.1 Colourful sardine tins, containing fish sourced from Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese waters, appear on food influencers’ feeds for the past year. So much so, they’re a verified food trend.2
Maybe you’re here as a sardine lover, and want to know about your favourite, salty pre-dinner snack. Perhaps, you’re new to the glamorous world of tinned fish, and want to know, what’s the big idea?
We’re here to tell you. Sardines may be small, but they contain an ocean full of health benefits – which we’ll reveal below.
What are sardines?
Sardines, also known as pilchards, are a small fish, never larger than 25cm.3 Taking their name from Sardinia, where they were once found in abundance, sardines are still fished in the Mediterranean and the Atlantic.4 Sardines are an excellent sustainable seafood choice.5
Canned sardines are caught and immediately preserved in brine on the journey back to shore. While processing, their heads are removed, before they’re cooked and dried. Finally, sardines will be packed in soybean or olive oil, depending on the consumer price; olive oil is typically more expensive. Alternately, sardines may be canned in a tomato or mustard sauce.6
Health benefits of sardines
Sardines are swimming in health benefits, like:
Better heart health
Eating the equivalent of two servings of sardines each week has been shown to reduce the risk of developing heart issues.7
Preserve brain health
Scientific studies have found that eating fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids, like sardines, may help preserve cognitive function and memory as we age.8
Sardine nutrition profile
2 average-sized sardines contain9:
|Energy||Fat||Omega-3 fatty acids||Vitamin B12||Vitamin D||Selenium|
|50 kcal||2.7g||355mg||36% of RDA||16% of RDA||18% of RDA|
Other nutrients you’ll find in sardines include vitamin A, vitamin K, niacin, folate, vitamin B6, and phosphorus.
Quick sardine recipes
Short on time, but hungry for all of sardines health benefits? The best thing to do is simply take a tin of high-quality sardines, and enjoy a couple on a slice of toast, with a drizzle of olive oil.
If you want more than a quick bite, these meal ideas should still have you enjoying sardines in a flash:
- Spaghetti with sardines – either Venetian-style bigoli in salsa with sweet, sticky onions or Sicilian-style pasta con le sarde with raisins, saffron and pine nuts
- Sardine salad
- SLT - a sardine, tomato and lettuce sandwich
Risks from sardines
Be advised that sardines contain mercury, due to ocean pollution. However, the scientific consensus is that they are safe for everyone to eat, even pregnant women, due to low trace mercury.10
Looking to learn more about the benefits of seafood and how to incorporate omega-3 into your diet? Discover the 6 best foods containing omega-3.
Last updated: 23 February 2021
3 https://www.msc.org/what-you-can-do/eat-sustainable-seafood/fish-to-eat/sardine 4 https://www.britannica.com/animal/sardine
5 https://www.msc.org/what-you-can-do/eat-sustainable-seafood/fish-to-eat/sardine 6 https://www.britannica.com/animal/sardine
8 https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/do-omega-3s-protect-your-thinking-skills 9 https://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/finfish-and-shellfish-products/4114/2