Sardines A Good Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acid

By now you have probably heard the health benefits of omega-3 fatty acid and that salmon is a good source of omega-3. But did you know that sardines is also a good source of omega-3?

Some people mistakenly think that olive oil is a source of omega-3. Although it is true that olive oil has many other health benefits, olive oil is mostly the neutral omega-9 rather than the beneficial omega-3.

Not only that sardines are full of other vitamins and nutrients. A 3.2 ounce of sardines contain more than the %DV value of vitamin B12. It is also a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D.

Benefits of omega-3

The types of fat that we eat gets incorporated into the cells of our body. So when we eat good fats, our cells membranes contains the good fats. We want our cell membranes to be flexible and fluid so that they can take in nutrients and dispose of waste more easily. Omega-3 fats keeps our cell membrane flexible.

Omega-3 is anti-inflammatory by reducing cytokines associated with inflammation. It reduces excessive clotting and reduce arterial thickening and reduces risk of cardiovascular diseases.

And it may even help reduce certain cancer cell growth.


Sardines Have Omega-3 on Par with Salmon

Does sardines or salmon have more omega-3? That depends on which sources you reference. Some say sardines have more, and some say less. It depends on the type of sardines and type of salmon (whether it is wild caught, farmed, etc). In general, wild salmon has more omega-3 than farmed salmon because wild salmon eat the algae and other tiny seafood that contains the omega-3.

You can find a chart of the top foods rich in omega-3 fatty acid on whfoods.com. Sardines comes in third after flax seed and walnuts. And sardines (at 86.7% daily value of omega-3) comes in ahead to salmon at 52.5%.

The Washington Post has a great chart showing various seafoods and their relative omega-3 content as well as relative mercury levels. According to the chart sardine has more omega-3 than salmon. The good thing is that both salmon and sardines are relatively low in mercury as compared to other seafoods.

Dr. Brierley Wright wrote on Huffingtonpost that a 3 ounce serving of sardines have more omega-3 than "salmon, tuna, and just about any other food".

According to World's Healthiest Foods, a 3.2 ounce of sardine have 55.8% daily value of omega-3 fats.[1]

Sardines is listed in the book "The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth" saying ...

"Sardines are a health food in a can"

and it says that ...

"By some estimates, sardines are as high in omega-3 fats as salmon; by other estimates, they are a close second." [page 211]

What is being said about Sardines

In the video on the right, Vicky Newman talked about the role of nutrition in helping provide an environment that is more difficult for cancer to developed. She mentions the importance of omega-3 and how sardines is a good source of it.

In her talk, a chart is shown as to the amount of omega-3 that are in various seafoods. Of the fish listed, sardines and wild Atlantic salmon had the most. Three ounces of each contains 1565 mg of omega-3 (which includes both EPA and DHA). This is more than canned sockeye salmon. For a given portion, sardines has three times as much omega-3 than flounder.

Dr. Mark Hyman writes that ...

"Cold-water fish such as wild salmon, sardines, herring, small halibut, and sable (black cod) contain an abundance of beneficial omega-3 essential fatty acids that reduce inflammation." [page 300 of UltraMind Solution]

and he says on page 73 that "Sardines are my favorite."

A 3.75 ounce can containing one serving of sardines can have 1.3 grams of omega-3 fatty acid.

In addition to omega-3, sardines is also a good source choline, phospholipids, calcium, and protein. And there is even some magnesium, potassium, zinc, tryptophan, vitamin D, and B vitamins. See nutritional analysis of sardines.

Sardines Low in Mercury

All fishes have mercury to some extent. Mercury is a dangerous toxin that you do not want in your food. But sardines are relatively low in mercury and its benefit outweighs any risks of mercury. In general, smaller the fish, the less mercury it contains. Sardines are smaller than salmon. If a whole fish can fit within your frying pan, it is probably okay in term of mercury.

This is because larger animals bio accumulates toxins including mercury. Small fish are eaten by big fish, which in turn are eaten by larger fish, which then bio-accumulates the mercury that it ate from the smaller fish. This is true of land animals as well. Cattles and cows have bio-accumulated more toxins in their fat than smaller poultry animals such as chicken and turkey.

You will be happy to know that both sardines and salmon have been categorized by the Natural Resources Defense Council as "least mercury".

Dr. Ron Rosedale wrote an article that praises sardines in this way ...

"Sardines are a very good therapeutic food. They are baby fish so they haven’t had time to accumulate a bunch of metal. They are smoked so they are not cooked and the oil is not spoiled in them. You have to eat the whole thing."

Sardines High in Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an very important vitamin the plays many roles in health including boosting immune function and bone health. There are not many foods with vitamin D. However, sardines and salmon have very high amounts of vitamin D naturally, not added as in milk.

According to World's Healthiest Foods, a 3.2 ounce of sardine have 43.7% daily value of vitamin D.[1]

Note:

It is preferable to not to get the sardine cans packed in tomato sauce. Get the ones packed in either olive oil (extra virgin if possible) or water with no salt added. Get wild caught sardines when available.

Author enjoys sardines on a regular basis and like the wild sardines in extra virgin olive oil by Wild Planet. They uses BPA-free can and on the back of the box of sardine it says ...

"Ounce for ounce, Wild Planet sardines provide 3 times more calcium and phosphorus than milk, more iron than cooked spinach, as much protein as steak, and as much potassium as bananas. They contain 885mg DHA and 210mg EPA of Omega 3 per can while also supplying ample sources of vitamin B12, selenium and vitamin D.

Sardines contain Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), a nutrient found in the body's cells and believed to have antioxidant and immune system boosting properties.

These sardines are considered a Best Choice for Sustainability by a consensus of environmental organizations."

Article was written January 2012 and is opinion at the time of writing. Author is not a medical professional and may receive revenues from display ads.

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