Sardines are a small oily fish that have been given their name from the island of Sardinia in Italy.
Sardines are often found canned and tinned because they are very perishable, but you can also find them fresh for sale in some places, especially if you’re near the sea.
They are abundant in many different oceans, including the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Mediterranean.
You may have heard that sardines are good for you because they contain a range of healthy nutrients. The purpose of this article is for us to take a detailed look at the nutritional content of sardines to see whether they live up to the hype or not.
You probably already know that certain types of oily fish contain nutrients that may be beneficial for health.
Sardines are actually pretty high in a number of beneficial nutrients, and this article is going to focus on the good stuff that they contain.
Before we get started, please remember that the information contained within this article is for entertainment purposes only, and does not constitute professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis, and may not be used as such.
So, with the introductions out of the way, let’s start taking a closer look at the nutritional content of sardines.
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Sardines – The Nutrition Facts
Sardines are a good source of a number of important vitamins and minerals.
Editor's note: The health claims about the ingredients mentioned in this article are listed as authorised on the EU Register at the time of publishing.
You may have heard that oily fish such as sardines are good for you because they contain important Omega-3 fatty acids.
But how much of the important nutrients does a serving of sardines actually contain? Below, we have set out a list of the most important nutrients that sardines contain, as reported by the US Department of Agriculture.
As sardines are typically available canned in oil, we’ve chosen this preparation method for the list below.
It is worth noting, however, that the numbers may differ slightly depending on the preparation method, for example if you are buying fresh sardines or those canned in water.
A 100g serving of sardines canned in oil provides the following nutrients:
• Calories: 208
• Protein: 24.6g
• Fat: 11.4g
• Carbohydrate: 0g
Vitamins and Minerals in 100g of sardines canned in oil:
• Calcium: 382mg
• Iron: 2.92mg
• Magnesium: 39mg
• Phosphorus: 490mg
• Potassium: 397mg
• Sodium: 307mg
• Zinc: 1.31mg
• Copper: 0.18mg
• Selenium: 52.7µg
• Riboflavin: 0.22mg
• Niacin: 5.24mg
• Vitamin B6: 0.16mg
• Vitamin B12: 8.94µg
• Vitamin D: 4.8µg
• Choline: 75mg
• DHA: 509mg
• Total Omega-3 content: 982mg
As you can no doubt see for yourself from the numbers above, sardines are pretty nutrient dense and the contain a good amount of some important vitamins and minerals.
In particular, sardines contain a large amount of the essential mineral Calcium. Calcium plays a number of important roles in the body, including contributing to normal muscle function, normal energy release and the maintenance of normal teeth and bones.
Sardines also contain a decent amount of Potassium, which contributes to normal muscle function and the maintenance of normal blood pressure.
Sardines also contain some Iron, which is another important essential mineral. Iron contributes to the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and the normal functioning of the immune system.
They also have a small amount of Zinc, which is another important essential nutrient. Zinc contributes to the maintenance of normal serum testosterone levels, normal fertility and reproduction and normal protein synthesis.
Sardines also contain a decent amount of essential vitamins. For example, a 100g serving of sardines canned in oil provides almost 9 micrograms of Vitamin B12 and 5.25mg of Niacin. Vitamin B12 contributes to normal energy release and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.
They are also a decent source of Choline. Choline plays a role in normal fat metabolism and the maintenance of normal liver function.
Being an oily fish, Sardines are also an excellent source of Omega-3 fatty acids. Sardines contain both Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA).
A 100g serving of Sardines canned in oil contains 982mg of Omega-3 (DHA and EPA). DHA, in particular, contributes to normal brain function and the maintenance of normal vision. DHA and EPA also both contribute to the normal function of the heart.
So, as you can no doubt see for yourself, Sardines do contain a range of important vitamins, minerals and other nutrients which play a key part in supporting good health.
Are Sardines High In Iron, Potassium and Calcium?
Sardines contain all three of the essential minerals Iron, Potassium and Calcium.
Iron: A 100g serving of sardines canned in oil contains 2.92mg of Iron. In the UK, men and women are recommended to consume at least 8.7mg or Iron per day, with women aged 19 to 50 recommended to consume 14.8mg of Iron per day.
Potassium: A 100g serving of sardines canned in oil contains 397mg of Potassium. According to the NHS in the UK, adults aged 19 to 64 years old need around 3,500mg of potassium a day.
Calcium: A 100g serving of sardines canned in oil contains around 382mg of Calcium. In the UK, adults aged 19 to 64 are recommended to consume 700mg of calcium a day, so a 100g serving of sardines canned in oil provides more than half of this amount.
Are Sardines High in Protein, Fat and Calories?
So what about the protein and fat content of sardines, and the total amount of calories they contain?
As shown above, a 100g serving of sardines canned in oil contains around 208 calories.
The same serving of sardines contains a decent amount of protein – 24.6g in total.
Sardines served canned in oil also contain 11.4g of fat per 100g.
Are Sardines an Oily Fish?
Yes, sardines are an oily fish.
Oily fish can be enjoyed as part of a healthy, balanced and varied diet. Oily fish is high in long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, which play an important role in a number of bodily processes.
For example, EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) contribute to the normal function of the heart. They also both contribute to the maintenance of normal blood pressure.
DHA also contributes to normal brain function and the maintenance of normal vision.
The NHS in the UK recommends that a healthy, balanced diet should include at least two portions of fish a week, including one of oily fish such as sardines.
Are Sardines High in Mercury?
One common concern when it comes to seafood and fish in general is the potential for high mercury content.
The United States Food and Drug Administration published a report in 2017 detailing the mercury content found in various types of seafood and fish.
Sardines were found to have a mercury concentration mean of 0.013 PPM.
This is in comparison to Canned Tuna, which had a mercury concentration mean of 0.126 PPM, which is almost 10 times the amount found in sardines.
Swordfish was found to have one of the highest mercury concentration means, with a total of 0.995 PPM.
Sardines had the fifth lowest mercury concentration mean of the other types of fish and seafood on the list. Only scallops, clams, shrimps and oyster having lower PPM mercury concentration mean levels.
How Are Sardines Served?
Sardines probably best known for being served and stored canned in oil.
However, they can also be bought fresh and prepared in a number of ways, including roasting them in the oven and cooking them under a grill.
Sardines can be used in salads or as part of a main dish.
Anything Else To Consider?
Remember that the key to a good diet is making sure that you enough plenty of variety in your nutrition plan.
It’s best to speak to a certified medical or nutrition professional before thinking about making any major changes to your diet.
It is also worth bearing in mind that sardines are quite high in sodium (salt), so you’ll want to bear this mind before eating them.
Wrapping Things Up – Our Final Thoughts
So, that brings us to the end of our detailed look at the nutritional content of sardines.
Sardines are small oily fish that contain a number of important essential nutrients, such as Omega-3 fatty acids and Calcium and Potassium.
We’ve walked you through exactly how much of important vitamins such as Vitamin B12 sardines contain, as well as exactly how much protein, fat and total calories are found in a portion.