July 11, 2011
Lately, I've become a sucker for sardines.
As a matter of fact, as I sit in the airport, I just gulped down for breakfast a giant can of sardines in extra virgin olive oil, neatly folded into a rye wrap with spinach, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese (note: all of these food items can easily be thrown into a backpack and accessed while traveling – just make sure you have a plastic knife and breath-freshening mints or gum).
So why do I like sardines so much?
-Sardines have a big dose of omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA – more than salmon, tuna, or just about any other food. For a primer on why these fatty acids are crucial in your diet, listen to my interview with Dr. Rick Cohen about
-When it comes to energy, heart health and metabolism, B12 is a big player. Calf's liver is the most concentrated source of vitamin B12 that you can find in real food. What's the runner-up to calf's liver that is far easier to transport in a canned, portable form? You guessed it: sardines.
-Sardines are incredibly concentrated in vitamin D, a hormonal precursor that is one of the most beneficial compounds you can put into your body. Nearly everyone is deficient in vitamin D, and it's tough to find in many foods, unless you want to live on fortified dairy products.
-Sardines are packed with selenium, a powerful natural antioxidant that can also reduce risk of cancer.
-Last, but not least, sardines give a big wallop of protein and fat, which not only provide the body with the essential compounds necessary for muscle repair, protein creation and hormone formation, but also provide the appetite with extremely satiating nutrition that leaves your satisfied for hours.
Because they are small fish at the bottom of the food chain, when compared to many other seafood choice, sardines are not as likely to contain concentrated amounts of contaminants such as mercury and PCBs.
One last thing about sardines, before I give you 5 mind-blowing, low-carb ways to enjoy them – as you shop for sardines be sure to choose those that are packed in relatively healthy olive oil, and not soybean oil.
Sardine Recipe #5: A Sardine Wrap. Make the wrap pictured above. If you're going gluten-free or low-carb, substitute the wrap with a big butter lettuce leaf, swiss chard, kale, or bok choy. Fill the wrap with spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella or feta cheese, and then dump the can of sardines on top so that the olive oil saturates the vegetables. For added calories, include a sliced avocado in the wrap.
Sardine Recipe #4: Cold Sardine Salad. Chop up some red onion, a couple large handful of olives, and if you have some around, a bit of fennel. Add seasalt. Toss with sardines, and enjoy.
Sardine Recipe #3: Sardine-Tomato Sandwich. Slice a large garden tomato so you can use it like a cracker, sprinkle it with a bit of sea salt, and top it with a chunk of sardine, some mozzarella cheese, a sprig of fresh basil or sprinkling of basil spice (you could also use arugula, oregano or rosemary). For more carbs, you can add a rice or flax seed cracker under the tomato.
Sardine Recipe #2: Sauced Sardines. This works well if all you have is sardines canned in water. Drain the sardines, put them into a small bowl, then in a separate bowl, stir together a sauce of extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, minced garlic, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper, and pour it over the sardines.
Sardine Recipe #1: Sardines. Ahem. Just eat the sardines straight out of the can. Need pep? Add cayenne pepper? Need bite? Add balsamic vinegar? Need added flavor? Add a bit of lemon juice and salt. All you need is a fork and a can. Beautiful.
You could have any of the recipes above as standalone snacks or meals, or enjoy them as a side to a salad or a bit of fruit. Not only are these mind-blowing ways to enjoy sardines certified low-carb, but they're protein and healthy-fat packed, satiating, and give you a big boost of some vitamins and nutrients that are tough to find elsewhere.
Do you have questions or feedback about sardines? Your own tasty recipes? Just comment below!
20 thoughts on “5 Mind-Blowing, Low-Carb Ways To Enjoy Sardines.”
Meant to say Thanks — & to proof my question Lol
Do eat the entire fish or chap head off 1st??
I eat the whole thing.
I eat 1 can of sardines a day,as well as taken 2fishoil pills in morning and another 2fishoil pills about 6to8 hours from then. Everyday,fill great and no problems….Haha have the strongest nails and crazy how soft my hair is truly like a baby’s hair it’s funny, make people touch it.
But remember this is only ok if ur taken quality fish oil. I get mine from gnc and its third party tested as well. Little pricey BUT IF UR LOOK FOR RESULTS AND FILL GREAT. You can try the method I’m doing.
Yes I was wondering if polar sardines are bpa free
I’m new to the sardine life and have found that I really enjoy them…straight out of the tin! I’m wondering though, does it matter if you eat them with with skin and bones or not? Which is nutritionally superior?
Sardines are yummiest slathered with a good whole-grain mustard!
I love seafood, but I have kind of a hard time with sardines. Last time I put them in my salad the back bones which were bigger than the other pin bones, kind of freaked me out. Maybe if I put them in a wrap so I don't see the bones that will help. I was also wondering about taking my fish oil on days I eat salmon or other fatty fish. I usually don't, but after reading the comments here maybe I will . . . .
If you are careful, you can prep the sardines. Open each sardine and simply pull out the bones
the Seasons sardines from Costco are skinless and boneless and in olive oil, they’re great!
Ben, love your work, I can't get enough of your podcasts (Yes, I rate them) and dig your website. Thank you!
Ben, does the situation with contaminants apply to most small fatty fish? For instance, I'm in England for the next two and a half weeks and they sell Mackerel fairly cheaply. Is this a fish I could have multiple times a week as well? (I'm trying to compensate for the lack of other proteins that I can cook in the college I'm staying in)
P.S. The exercise equipment here is really sub-par (only a few "life-fitness machine for bench press etc.). If I use these regularly will they slow loss of muscle mass or should I just switch to running and body weight exercises to lean up before I come home?
Yes, Mackerel is good, as is Herring. And if you're working out with weightlifting machines you will still put on or retain muscle…
…oh and as a frequent traveler…please don't eat this on a plane :)
I also dig smoked oysters in olive oil
liverwurst is also a really easy and accessible source of b12.. you can find some good sources at most supermarkets nowadays. Also, Ben do you use a canned sardine company that avoids BPA in their cans? If so, what brand is it. If not, are you not concerned with BPA? thanks
Vital Choice is a BPA Free brand. It is certainly a concern!
Sardines are awesome – one of earth's truly perfect foods. My favorite is King Oscar packed in spring water. Drain, pour in a bowl and eat add organic stone ground mustard or Louisiana hot sauce. Eat with a fork – sometimes with gluten free crackers. I have a can most days. One can of sardines as approximately 1.3 g of fish oil (EPA + DHA) so I don't take fish oil capsules on days I eat sardines. Do you?
On days you have sardines, you don't HAVE to take Fish Oil, but it doesn't hurt in helping your omega 3 to omega 6 ratio even more.