The term “sardine” has been in use for over 500 years and is thought to have come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, Italy where sardines were found in abundance. around which sardines were once abundant. Like most fish, which can be enjoyed fresh, sardines are perishable; this why they are commonly found canned.
Sardines only feed on plankton, which is why they do not contain the high levels of mercury and other heavy metals that other fish often do (this could be a safer fish to eat for pregnant women and older adults). According to the Marine Stewardship Council, they are sustainable fish to eat.
Need some other reason to consider eating these little fish? How about good ole nutrition? Because sardines are a nutrient powerhouse, they can help keep the body healthy and prevent diseases.
Let’s talk vitamins; these fish are a great source of vitamin B-12, which helps improve energy and the functioning of the cardiovascular system. They also contain vitamin D which is important for bone health and mood. Niacin assists in regulating ‘good’ and ‘bad’ cholesterol as well as boosting brain health.
In terms of minerals, sardines are an excellent source of calcium (good for those who are allergic or sensitive to dairy, or who are lactose intolerant), iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and phosphorus.
Protein content – just once ounce of sardines contains 7 grams of protein.
Sardines are a source of healthy fats. These omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can help prevent cardiovascular disease. These beneficial fats can also lower blood pressure and reduce risk of blood clots.
Ready to shop? Choose canned sardines packed in water or olive oil; remember to check expiration dates. If buying fresh, the sardines should be firm, with bright eyes and shiny skin. They shouldn’t smell too fishy.
How to Incorporate Sardines in your Diet
Rinse canned sardines under cold water; gut and rinse fresh sardines. Now you’re ready to go!
Like most protein sources, sardines are a very versatile food and can be easily added to salads (like our Mediterranean salad), eaten with mustard and crackers, rolled in grape leaves to make a wrap, or made into a main dish, such as a curry.