Since the pandemic's start in 2020, the underappreciated sardine has joined other canned fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel on grocery shelves. Sardines are now more popular than ever as people find the fish's adaptability, long shelf life, and overall deliciousness. Sardines are appearing on an increasing number of menus and attracting the attention of chefs all around the world now that eateries have largely resumed operations. Small, nutrient-rich fish known as sardines can be found in the grocery store's canned or fresh seafood sections.
Sardines are a tasty option with good health, even though salmon and tuna are the most popular canned fish options. Additionally, you don't need to worry about consuming foods that are rich in mercury because sardines only consume plankton and not other fish. Sardines are simple to include in your diet because there are several methods to cook and consume them. Sardines are frequently eaten as an appetizer, a snack, a topping for salad, or a dip, but they can also be served as a part of the main course, according to Emma Laing, Ph.D., the director of dietetics at the University of Georgia and a registered dietitian nutritionist (RDN).
Which is Better Canned or Fresh?
In shallow coastal temperate and subtropical oceans all throughout the world, sardines can be found. Sardines are commonly served grilled and with just a dash of salt on a plate in various European nations, including Portugal and Spain. Additionally, they can be fried, roasted, or grilled. Sardine bones are so minute that the entire fish can be consumed. Although many Asian grocery stores or fish markets typically carry fresh sardines, this fish isn't typically sought-after in the US. In the supermarket store, sardines can be easily found next to tuna and salmon. According to Laing, "Canned sardines are often inexpensive, have a long shelf life (fresh versions last only a few days while canned sardines can last up to many years if stored properly), and are packed in olive oil, water, tomato sauce, mustard, and a variety of other flavors.
What Are The Health Benefits of Sardines?
This fish with silvery skin has several advantages for the bones, heart, and brain. According to Laing, sardines provide a balance of protein and good fats that can help you feel satisfied between meals and fuller for a longer period of time. Sardines are a great source of protein, vitamins, and minerals like vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, phosphorus, and selenium as well as omega-3 fatty acids. They also have a distinct flavor. Due to their anti-inflammatory qualities, omega-3 fatty acids can prevent heart disease, according to Danielle Gaffen, RDN, founder of Eat Well Crohn's Colitis, a virtual tele-nutrition practice in the United States. Because sardines are low in saturated fat and high in omega-3 fatty acids (eicosapentaenoic acid, or EPA, and docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA), they may reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.
Additionally, sardines contain DHA, which is advantageous for the brain. According to Laing, regular DHA consumption has been associated with maintaining memory and slowing the rate of cognitive deterioration in elderly persons. Sardines feature little bones that provide an added benefit as a strong source of calcium. Sardines also boast a significant amount of vitamin B12, which is crucial for brain function. According to Gaffen, three ounces of drained sardines include 325 milligrams of calcium, which is around a third of the RDA for calcium for both men and women between the ages of 18 and 70. Sardines are a fantastic choice if you need to enhance your calcium intake but don't eat dairy products like cheese or yogurt. People who are lactose intolerant, allergic to dairy, or who need additional calcium in their diet can benefit from sardines because they are a non-dairy source of calcium.
Who Should Avoid Eating Sardines?
Sardines may need to be eaten with caution by people who have certain medical conditions, such as chronic kidney disease, kidney stones, gout, or high blood pressure. Sardines naturally contain purines, a chemical that produces uric acid, which may exacerbate these illnesses if ingested in excess, according to Gaffen. "People who have a history of these conditions should avoid sardines," she advises. Protein diets may need to be restricted for individuals with chronic kidney disease (CKD) to lessen the workload placed on the kidneys, according to Gaffen. Depending on how they are maintained, sardines in cans may be high in salt. Always check the labels and choose sardines that are water- or low-sodium-preserved.
Check the labels of sardine cans carefully, advises Laing. "People who have been diagnosed with hypertension or high blood pressure or those who are monitoring their salt consumption per the advice of their doctor or trained dietitian should do so." Laing adds that although though these medical issues might necessitate limiting your intake of these delicious and nutrient-rich fish, you might not need to completely cut them out of your diet. According to her, "Individual nutrition demands are specific and depend on one's age, medical conditions, and medication use." Sardines can be incorporated into an eating pattern that promotes your health and takes into account your personal preferences, cultural traditions, and financial constraints with the assistance of a licensed dietitian nutritionist.
How About Canned Sardines?
So you decide to try sardines in cans. Excellent! However, you need to be mindful that the can itself can include the hazardous substance BPA. According to Gaffen, eating sardines may pose a health danger not from the fish itself but from the can it is stored in. "Research studies have indicated that BPA exposure may cause reproductive abnormalities, genetic damage, and maybe an increased risk of breast cancer. Cans can contain bisphenol A, also known as BPA, a dangerous chemical that can transfer to the food contained inside the can." People are exposed to low levels of BPA because, like many packaging materials, extremely minute amounts of BPA may migrate from the food packaging into foods or beverages, according to the Food and Drug Administration. The National Center for Toxicological Research (NCTR) of the FDA has conducted studies that have revealed no effects of BPA exposure at low doses.