Sunday, April 11, 2010

Sardines -- Superfish?

My husband loves these little critters, although I have not been able to develop much of a taste for them. The canned versions seem kind of icky to me, and despite much searching I haven't been able to find fresh sardines in any market.

Nonetheless, they are SO good for us, I'm thinking I ought to try some canned sardines again. I know that Trader Joe's has a few versions, some with mustard sauce and so on.

Here's what the Berkeley Wellness Letter posted this week about the health benefits of sardines.

Sardines: The Can-Do Fish

All seafood has something good to offer. But sardines (a name given to many small fish in the herring family) are a top choice across the board.

Sardines are one of the richest sources of heart-healthy omega-3 fats—richer than canned tuna and many fish oil supplements. And because sardine populations are abundant (after a collapse in the 1950s), environmental groups consider them a good ecological choice. Moreover, contaminants are much less of a concern with sardines than with tuna, swordfish, farmed salmon, and most other fatty fish; you can safely eat sardines at least once a week.

Catching the best

• Sardines typically come canned, but more markets now carry them fresh as well. Restaurants often serve them grilled, which is an easy way to prepare them at home.

• For convenience, keep a few cans of sardines in your cupboard. With their easy-to-open lids, you can take them to work or on the road for a quick, easy meal or snack. They are good paired with hearty breads or crackers, nuts, olives, cheese, and fruit, or mixed with chopped eggs or beets.

• When buying canned sardines, compare nutrition labels. Depending on the type of sardine, where they come from, and what they are packed in (water, oil, or tomato or mustard sauces), they can vary a lot in calories (90 to 350), fat (5 to 30 grams), and sodium (100 to 500 milligrams) per serving.

• Canned whole sardines are a good source of calcium if you eat the bones, which are softened during processing. A 3-ounce serving has about as much calcium as a cup of milk. Sardines are also a natural source of vitamin D—165 IU in 3 ounces.

More canned news: Besides sardines (and, of course, tuna), many other fish come canned, convenient, and healthy. Consider canned herring (with even more omega-3s than sardines), canned salmon (almost always wild, so contaminants are not a problem, and also a good source of calcium if you eat the bones), and canned mackerel (another great choice for omega-3s and calcium), as well as canned shrimp, oysters, clams, and crabmeat. If you are watching your sodium intake, compare labels to find products with lower amounts.


  1. Pama, they are wonderful. We eat them once a week over here. Even the kids love 'em. Grilled on some lump charcoal - they only take seconds to cook and dumped on a bed of salad greens - they are finger licking good! We like the tinned ones too, they make a nice contrast to a late evening cheese board in lieu of dinner.

  2. If only I could find fresh sardines here! But I'll give the tinned ones another try, while continuing to look for fresh. Grilled over charcoal and served on greens -- sounds great!