Sardines Nutrition: Top 9 Reasons You Don’t Want to Miss Out On
Health Benefits of Sardines
High in Anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Rich in Essential Nutrients
Contain Vitamin B12
High in Selenium
Protect Bone Health
Defend Against Mood Disorders
Control Blood Sugar Levels
Promote Weight Loss
Low in Mercury and Pollutants
- High in Anti-Inflammatory Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Sardines are one of the best natural sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids in the world, with a single 3.75-ounce can supplying over 1,300 milligrams. Sardines provide both EPA and DHA, two types of essential fatty acids that the body uses to reduce inflammation, resulting in improved hearth health, better brain function and a lower risk of chronic disease. (2, 3)
Because of their anti-inflammatory properties, omega-3 fatty acids can be effective in the treatment and prevention of hundreds of medical conditions. Studies show that consuming foods like sardines that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids can help protect against mood disorders like depression and anxiety and aid in the prevention of ADHD, various types of cancer, arthritis, infertility and especially heart disease (4, 5, 6). In fact, omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to lower unhealthy cholesterol levels and triglycerides, making them one of the most important nutrients when it comes to maintaining a healthy heart. (7)
Omega-3 fats come in three forms: DHA, EPA and ALA. ALA is found in plant foods including walnuts, flaxseeds, chia seeds and hemp seeds, for example. EPA and DHA are found in fatty fish, including sardines, salmon and mackerel fish. EPA and DHA have been shown to be the most beneficial and easily absorbed by the body, which makes sardines an even more beneficial option for obtaining these specific kinds of fatty acids.
- Rich in Essential Nutrients
Sardines are rich in many essential nutrients, including vitamin B12, vitamin D, calcium and selenium. They are also a great source of phosphatidylserine and numerous other B vitamins, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium, and more. Not only do these nutrients play a central role in everything from heart health to metabolism and cellular function, but they can also prevent nutritional deficiencies and help you feel your absolute best.
- Contains Vitamin B12
Vitamin B12 is an important water-soluble vitamin that helps maintain nerve function, brain health, blood cell formation, energy levels and more. (8) Unfortunately, many people’s diets are lacking in this key vitamin, resulting in a vitamin B12 deficiency. Even a mild vitamin B12 deficiency can cause symptoms including nerve damage, impaired mental function, difficulty supplying cells with oxygen and chronic fatigue. Fortunately, just one can of sardines goes above and beyond your daily vitamin B12 needs, providing 137 percent of the amount that you need in a day.
- High in Selenium
Sardines also provide high levels of selenium, containing nearly 70 percent of your daily needs in just one can. Selenium is an essential mineral that also acts as an important antioxidant and is required for your body to create and convert glutathione, a compound dubbed by researchers as the “master antioxidant.” (9)
Selenium prevents oxidative damage in the body, fights off disease-causing free radicals, helps regulate metabolism and improves cellular function. Selenium is also an important mineral for supporting detoxification since it has the ability to take stress off the digestive and endocrine organs like the liver and thyroid. (10, 11)
A deficiency in selenium has been linked to thyroid impairment, decreased immune function, hormonal imbalances, reproductive problems, mood disorders and heart disease. (12)
- Protect Bone Health
Sardines are a great source of many vitamins and minerals that are essential for maintaining a healthy skeletal structure, including calcium, vitamin D and phosphorus. Consuming foods rich in calcium can prevent bone mineral loss and help to heal broken bones following injuries. These three key minerals help regulate bone metabolism, a process in which mature bone tissue is removed to allow for the formation of new bone tissue. (13)
Sardines are one of the few food sources of vitamin D and one of the rare ingredients that provides a hearty dose of all three, making them an excellent addition to a healthy bone-building diet.
- Defend Against Mood Disorders
Thanks to their high content of omega-3 fatty acids, some research suggests that foods like sardines could be beneficial in the prevention of mood disorders, such as anxiety and depression. (14)
Many recent studies have focused on omega-3s’ impact on mental health, particularly EPA, and have found that these essential fats can play a vital role in boosting mood and maintaining healthy brain function to help you beat depression. (15) The brain itself is made up of roughly 60 percent fat, so obtaining the right ratio of fatty acids is crucial for the function of the central nervous system and your overall mood. (16)
- Control Blood Sugar Levels
Sardines are packed with both healthy fats and protein, which both work to slow down the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream. Combining high-protein and high-fat foods like sardines with carbohydrates can slow the release of glucose (sugar) into the blood, helping prevent spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. Consuming foods with essential fats and proteins is especially important for people who have diabetes, metabolic syndrome or other conditions related to insulin resistance.
In one study conducted on rats fed a high-fructose, researchers fed the rats either casein, sardine protein with high-fructose or sardine protein without high-fructose. Ultimately, they found that “the [sardine protein] diet prevented and reversed insulin resistance and oxidative stress, and may have benefits in patients with metabolic syndrome.” (17)
- Promote Weight Loss
Sardines are high in both protein and healthy fats, making them one of the healthiest fish to include in your diet to help you feel full and curb cravings. Considering all of their health benefits, sardines are low in calories but high in essential nutrients that many people are often lacking, including omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. They are a great source of low-calorie protein for people looking to cut calories and lose weight.
Numerous studies have also shown that adding fish like sardines to your diet can help you lose weight fast. For instance, one study out of the University of Iceland published in the International Journal of Obesity found that adding seafood to a weight loss diet helped people lose 2.2 pounds more than a control group over a four-week period. (18)
- Low in Mercury and Pollutants
One of the best reasons to regularly consume sardines in place of other fish is because of their sustainability and low levels of contamination. Sardines are considered a fish at the bottom of the aquatic food chain because they eat plankton, which means they don’t carry the same toxins and heavy metals as many other fish you should never eat like red snapper, tilefish and swordfish. Avoiding pollutants, including heavy metals like mercury, is one of the biggest concerns for many people today, so purchasing sardines is a good way to get the important omega-3s from fish without compromising on keeping toxins out of your diet. (19)