When I was little my dad would eat sardines and I would run away, scared and vowing to never eat such a stinky, little fish. I imagine kids around the world shared the same sentiment. Fast forward a few years and I am a sardines convert, eating them on a regular basis. Yes, they may be stinky but whether you have a simple or sophisticated palate, you will find sardines to be full of flavor and packed with vitamins and minerals.
Did you know that Napoleon fed his troops sardines to keep them nourished while on the battlefield? It turns out one of the greatest military men in world history knew a thing or two about nutrient density. Sardines are high in protein, calcium, Vitamin D, B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. BAM! I can’t think of another food that contains so many macro and micro nutrients.
Rich in B vitamins like niacin and B12, these little fishies help support nervous system function and energy metabolism. Sardines are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation and support healthy heart function. Eating high quality fats like omega-3s also help regulate blood sugar levels. For more on that, read these two in-depth features on why eating more fat is a good idea:
Sardines are also pound for pound one of the best sources of calcium...provided, you buy them with the bones in. No need to worry, however, if you’re on the finicky side - the bones in sardines are so soft and fine that you barely notice them when you eat them. One of the biggest nutrition misnomers is that eating foods rich in calcium, alone will necessarily increase your calcium levels. As any NTP will tell you, calcium is a game of cofactors. It just so happens that one of the biggest cofactors for the absorption of calcium is Vitamin D. And guess what? Sardines are also extremely rich in Vitamin D.
Do yourself a favor by buying good quality sardines packed in olive oil so you can benefit from the healthy Omega 6 fatty acids in the olive oil. Plus, they taste 1,000 times better packed in oil rather than water.
Now, you may be thinking “I was told not to eat fish more than 1-2 times per week”. Well, unlike tuna, sardines are fairly low in heavy metals because they are so small and low on the food chain. So go ahead and enjoy a can today!
Here’s a tip: Bring a ziplock bag with you when taking sardines for lunch on the go. When finished, put the can in the ziplock and throw away. It will help curb the smell so your officemates don’t freak out.