Sardines The Under-appreciated Superfood
I want to share one of the foods I have been crazy about for the last few months. Sardines. They have a bit of a reputation of being unappetising, stinky, cheap tins of fish. But I’m hoping this article can expose just how good they are for you and that they’re actually not that bad tasting (more on that later). I have also noticed that for me, when things are really good for you, they taste just that little bit better.
The general pros for Sardines:
Since sardines are fish, they are obviously high protein, no carbs and with lots of healthy, fatty goodness. They are one of the highest sources of essential vitamin B12 on the planet. One serving (depending on your data source) contains 2-3 times your recommended daily intake of b12. Your body can store B12 for later use so you don’t need to eat them every day. Further, sardines are a valuable food source of B12 for me as I tend to be moving towards more of a Pescetarian style of eating.
One tin of Sardines is 1.3grams of Omega-3. 530mg EPA and 650mg DHA. Based on EPA content this is nearly the same as swallowing 3 standard Fish Oil capsules (180gm EPA, 120gm DHA).
Sardines are a source of natural vitamin D. Vitamin D3 is a very cheap supplement, especially if you get it from the Sun for free (but it doesn’t hurt to get a little extra in your diet).
There’s a whole bunch of potassium(324mg ), sodium(240mg) , calcium(267mg).
And a large profile of trace micronutrients including B3, B2 B12, B5, iron, magnesium, selenium, phosphorus, etc. The best way to get your vitamins is through your food and sardines pack a hard punch of nutrients. http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=147
A tin of sardines is like a little meal of 180 calories, 17grams protein and 9 grams of fat, bundled with a few fish oil capsules and a multi-vitamin where your body will actually utilise the nutrients because SARDINES ARE FOOD.
A tin of sardines is cheap. Some cheaper than others. This is where quality and taste is factored in and has contributed to them getting a bad reputation. My choice is to buy the middle most expensive ones that are fished from Canada. There are really cheap and nasty tins from Asian countries that I wouldn’t trust and they taste terrible. But when I buy my sardines I get them when they are on special for $1.00 instead of $1.60. This is a significant saving and really isn’t much more than the cheap and nasty alternatives. $1 for a serving of what I described above is an amazing deal.
To me a tin of sardines is what a protein bar tries to be.
Convenient & Non-Perishable
To me a tin of sardines is what a protein bar tries to be. That is, an easy and convenient way to get some protein and calories in you, except a lot better for you. You can buy them in bulk and stored them in your cupboard for years. Just make sure you turn them every now and again to keep them well covered in their oil/sauce so they keep better. You can then easily pack them for lunch at work/school or as a quick snack. You can take them when you travel, although sardines are probably easily bought from a supermarket wherever you go.
Sustainably Fished & Less Heavy Metals
Pacific sardines are one of the best fish to eat in terms of sustainability. Their stocks are well managed and they are feracious breeders and grow quickly. It’s for this same reason they are a better choice in terms of toxic heavy metals. Due to their short life spans they don’t have time to accumulate as much in their bodies.
Over the years I guess I have become quite tolerant of bland and unappetising food in the quest for muscle gains. So maybe I’m being too generous to sardines in terms of their palatability. In the end you will need to determine for yourself whether sardines are something you could enjoy on a regular basis. For the benefits, I think giving a bunch of brands and price points of sardines a go. You might be pleasantly surprised how good they are. Personally I stay away from brine or fresh water as I think they are too fishy that way. Olive oil is ok. But my favourite is the tomato sauce and they are really easy to eat and have a nice fatty buttery texture where they melt in your mouth.
Let me know if you’re also a sardines fan or maybe you have some sardine recipes or serving suggestions.