Awwk! Yes we are talking about this smelly saltwater fish now available in tin cans. Benefits of this fish are worth consuming despite its smell that is disliked by many. Sardines are small oily silvery fish found across globe. Popular varieties come from Mediterranean Sea. Sardines get their name from Sardinia, an Italian island where these fish were harvested in large quantities. There are now more than 20 varieties of sardines sold in market. In the United States, sardines actually refer to a small herring, and adult sardines are known as pilchards, a name that is commonly used elsewhere.
Sardines are at bottom of aquatic chain and feed on plant matter in sea. Hence concentration of heavy metals like mercury and contaminants are not found in sardines.
Sardines are very perishable. They are excellent while fresh, but are canned for increasing shelf life. They are canned in oil, water, tomato sauce or mustard. Apart from human consumption, Sardines are commercially fished for bait, salting and drying, extraction of fish oil, as animal feed.
Sardine Nutrition Facts
Sardines are an excellent source of several important nutrients like vitamin B12 and selenium. They are a very good source of minerals such as phosphorus, omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and vitamin D. Additionally, they also provide a good amount of calcium, niacin, copper, vitamin B2, and choline.
A serving of about 100 grams of sardine supplies body with one third of daily requirement of bioavailable calcium, half the daily requirement of protein and phosphorus, two third of daily requirement of vitamin D and three fourth the daily requirement selenium. Isn’t that interesting? And more important is the supply of Vitamin B12, just 65 grams of sardine would meet your daily requirement of Vitamin B12; that’s equivalent to multivitamin supplement. It also supplies body with vital minerals like zinc, iron, copper and manganese. Sardines are believed to contain nutrient CoEnzyme Q10 which is popular heart supplement these days.
Sardines have high quantity of oils which are mainly omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and have wide health benefits. They also rich in purines – nucleic acids or proteins needed to rebuild tissues.
Health benefits of Sardines
Packed with omega 3 fatty acids, minerals and vitamins, sardines offer plethora of health benefits. And these benefits come without risk of heavy metal contamination. Some of the health benefits of sardines are discussed below:
Sardine benefits for heart
Sardines have been found to contain numerous nutrients that reportedly support cardiovascular health. Sardines are one of the most concentrated sources of the omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA. Omega 3 fatty acids help lower blood fats and bad cholesterol levels. Sardines provide body with Vitamin B12 which is essential for glucose metabolism. It helps in energy production and helps regulate nervous system. Adequate Vitamin B12 helps in reducing risk of heart attack and high blood pressure. Omega 3 fatty acids in sardines reduce risk of blood clots in arteries, thereby preventing strokes and atherosclerosis.
Sardine for bone health
Sardines are a very rich source of vitamin D and calcium; both are vital for bone health. It also supplies body with phosphorus and manganese which are essential and developing bone structure and strength. Phosphorus is essential for regulating bone density and bone matrix. Sardines are eaten with their soft bones for good supply of calciums.
Sardine and Omega 3 fatty acids
Sardine contains fats amounting to about 10% of their weight. Of this only one fourth are saturated fats, remaining three fourth of fats in sardines are healthy unsaturated fats. Each 100 grams serving of sardine does supply around 2 grams of omega-3 fatty acids.
Benefits of omega-3 fatty acids are many including its ability to lower blood cholesterol, reduce risk of heart diseases, reduce inflammation and improve nervous system and brain function. They are also known to reduce risk of cancers. As anti-inflammatory agent, omega-3 fatty acids are helpful in treating arthritis and joint pains. Some evidence suggests that a diet high in omega-3 fatty acids reduces inflammation which is a key component in asthma.
Omega-3 fatty acid improves normal cognitive functions such as memory and thought. Fish oil may also be helpful in reducing the symptoms of bi-polar disorder, as well as boosting the effects of anti-depressant drugs. Some fats from fish-oil may also be very important for proper neurological and ocular development in infants and help reduce symptoms of ADHD.
There is some preliminary research evidence that suggests that omega-3 fatty acids may help protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. It helps in development of myelin layer around nerve cells to protect them from damage.
Rich protein of protein – Sardine
A serving of Sardines meets about half the daily body requirement of protein. Also it supplies with all 18 essential amino acids required by body. Protein are the building blocks of our bodies and required for body growth and development.
Sardine and Cancer prevention
Sardine offers body with supply of vitamin D which plays significant role in prevention of certain type of cancers. Selenium present in sardines are powerful antioxidant and are known to reduce cancer risk. Omega 3 fatty acids found in sardines reduce risks of colorectal cancers, prostate cancer and breast cancer. Omega-3 fatty acid intake has been proven particularly effective against the blood cell or lymph cell-related cancers such as leukemia, multiple myeloma, and non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
Sardine increase immunity
Sardines are powerpack of minerals and vitamins which help in building immune system. Studies suggest usefulness of sardine fish oil in increasing number of immune cells and thereby improve immunity. Vitamin D is important nutrient in regulating body immune system.
Sardine and diabetes
Initial animal studies shows that consumption of sardine can reduce insulin resistance, one of the common factors in diabetes. Protein from sardine is responsible for this benefit. This protein acts as protection against insulin resistance.
Sardine for eyes health
The high levels of omega-3 essential fatty acids in sardines offer substantial protection against age related macular degeneration (AMD). AMD results in deterioration of vision, central vision loss and blindness. Recent studies associate consumption of sardines with reduced risk of AMD. Studies also strongly suggest that the consumption of omega-3 fatty acids also reduces the risk of dry eye syndrome, a common cause of ocular complaints.
Sardine benefits for skin
Sardines offer body with supply of omega 3 fatty acids. These fatty acids have moisturizing effect and locks moisture in skin cells. They encourage production of collagen and elastin fibers which provides young looking skin. It contains anti-aging mineral selenium and zinc needed for skin protection. They offer antioxidant effect to skin and helps prevent wrinkles.
Sardine benefits for hair
Omega 3 fatty acids in sardine offer nourishment to hair follicles and promote their growth. Sardine consumption may helping hair growth and prevents hair loss. The rich supply of proteins in sardine is helpful for healthy hair.
Sardine and weight control
Sardine offer high amount of fats but most of this is unsaturated in nature. They supply ample amount of omega-3 fatty acids which boost metabolic rate and prevent diabetes. Proteins from sardines are essential for body growth and ensuring right body mass. Sardine in diet definitely helps in controlling body weight.
Side effects of Sardine
Sardines contain high purine content, which break into uric acid. High levels of uric acid are associated with development of kidney stones or gout. Some people may be allergic to sardine proteins. Amines like tyramine, serotonin, typtamine, phenylethylamine and histamine are found in sardines which are known to cause allergic reactions and symptoms.
Fresh sardine vs canned sardines?
Fresh sardines would definitely preferred for cooking but they are hard to find. Sardine is perishable in nature. Canning is best process to store them. IQF frozen sardines are another alternative.
Are Sardines in Water Better for You Than in Oil?
Sardines canned in water are healthier option. Tomoato sauce may cause leaching of aluminum in can. Oil is not a healthier option if you are cholesterol and fat conscious. There is not much difference in nutrient of sardines whether canned in oil or water. Canning with mustard results in higher sodium content than sardine canned in oil or water.
Sardines for pet food
Sardines for its petite size make it popular pet food. Dogs and cats like the flavor of this fish. Sardine water from canned sardines is also used as gravy for dog and cat food.
he water the sardines are packed in also makes an excellent, flavorful gravy for dog or cat food and used to flavor their kibble while offering them health benefits. Sardine juice flavor is also use to mask medications given to pet.
How to select fresh sardines?
In case you are selecting fresh sardines, look for fishese with bright colour and shiny eyes. The flesh should be firm and should not sink if pressed.
Sardine healthy recipes
Try out grilled Portuguese sardines – Portuguese prefer sardines just grilled in charcoal and serve with boiled potatoes, bread and salad made of tomato, cucumber and green pepper.
How to prepare Sardine fry? Make long deep cut in flesh of fish and clean them with running water. Remove scales. Make marinate using paste of ginger, garlic, red pepper, black pepper, turmeric and salt. Apply this paste to fish and allow marinating for an hour. In a pan, heat about 2 tbsp of coconut oil or olive oil. Add some curry leaves in hot oil. Place fish in pan and shallow fry from both sides until fish is soft and cooked. Serve this fish fry with rice preparations and salads.Image Credits: Wikimedia - Nithin, Wikimedia, Flickr-Adam Fagen