Why on earth should I eat sardines? Now before you turn your nose up on these commonly rejected tinned swimmers, you may be surprised by the answer. In fact there is not just one answer to this question. There are several reasons why a good old can of sardines should make an honoured appearance in your pantry.
Sardines might not immediately seem like the most joyous of foods, but they’re so insanely beneficial you’ll be sure to fall in love with them. They’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids and energy-boosting vitamin B12, as well as minerals such as calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and zinc. This mash is an inexpensive and nutrient-dense meal for when you feel like a boost.
Here are the top six reasons why I love sardines, and why they're one of my favourite supercharged foods for good health.
1. A superior source of omega 3’s
Everyone needs more omega-3 fatty acids in their diets due to the use of processed vegetable oils in foods, and feeding livestock on corn and grains, rather than green pastures. Sardines are a wonderful source of high-quality omega-3 fatty acids. Research is showing that omega-3 fatty acids, particularly EPA may help to support the tolerance of probiotic strains within your gut microbiome; making sardines an excellent gut health superfood.
2. No worries about mercury
The small size of the sardine means that it has less opportunity to pick up and accumulate mercury. The skinless and boneless sardines are even lower in mercury, with up to 50% less mercury than regular sardines because the mercury is stored in the sardine’s spinal cord. Many people say they also taste better. Larger fish, even salmon contain significant more concentrations of mercury than the tiny sardine.
3. High in vitamin B12
A Vitamin B12 deficiency, even a mild one, can cause symptoms including nerve damage, poor mental function, problems with oxygen uptake into cells, and depleted energy. One can of sardines provides a whopping 338% of your daily Vitamin B12 needs!
The numerous benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are related to their ability to act as an anti-inflammatory, making them a super effective treatment and prevention of hundreds of medical conditions. Omega-3 rich sardines have a remarkable ability to help defend against mood disorders like depression and anxiety, ADHD, arthritis, infertility, heart disease and inflammatory gut conditions like ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
5. Environmentally friendly
Sardines are also a brilliant seafood choice for anyone concerned about overfishing and environmental sustainability. Sardines from the Pacific have even found a spot on the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s “Super Green List,” which is a guide to fish choices that are environmentally friendly, low in toxins like mercury, and high in Omega-3s.
6. High in Vitamin D
We are in great need of this vitamin, as our modern fear of the sun is causing low vitamin D serum levels in a majority of the population. Vitamin D is an important fat soluble vitamin that is essential for maintaining healthy bones because it facilitates in the absorption of calcium, along with magnesium and Vitamin K. Vitamin D also has a link to gut health. Many studies have shown that there is a link between vitamin D and inflammatory bowel disease, and people with inflammatory bowel disease are more likely to have low levels of vitamin D. Sardines are an excellent source of vitamin D that helps meet daily recommended values at around 40% in one can! Sardines may help the immune system to reduce levels of inflammatory proteins that get overproduced, therefore calming inflammatory gut conditions.
Here's a simple and delightful sardine recipe that I encourage as part of my Heal Your Gut book and online program. Because Sardines are so full of vitamins and minerals, are a frugal and convenient pantry staple, and have high anti-inflammatory healing powers for the gut, I recommend including this recipe as a gentle and satisfying way to improve gut functioning and rebuild nutritional stores for improved energy.
Sardine Mash Pot
- 90 g (31/4 oz) tin sardines in extra virgin olive oil,
drained and well mashed
- 1/2 medium avocado, pitted and peeled
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1 garlic clove, crushed
- Celtic sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, to taste
- lemon cheeks, to serve
Put the sardines, avocado, lemon juice and garlic in a medium bowl, then mash with a fork until well combined or to your desired consistency. Season to taste and serve with lemon cheeks.