Sardines may not be the top seafood of choice for most of us, but maybe they should be. This fatty fish contains the most EPA and DHA omega-3s, which have been shown to benefit our hearts, brains and eyes.
Sardines are also a prime source of vitamin B-12 and an excellent source of selenium, an antioxidant associated with reduced cancer risk, vitamin D, calcium, potassium, iron, magnesium and protein.
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"We need sardines to reduce inflammation and lower unhealthy cholesterol levels," says Debi Silber, a dietitianin Long Island, New York. "They’re also high in protein, which means they'll keep you full longer."
There's more to broaden the appeal of these oily canned fish.
"Sardines also contain important nutrients that protect bone health, prevent insulin spikes and even help keep your moods steady and calm," Silber adds. "They’re also really easy to find in most supermarkets."
And, with all the worries about toxicity in our seafood supply, this is one fish you don't have to worry about.
"Sardines are the lower fish in the food chain so they contain no mercury compared to most fish Americans tend to eat," says Nicole Granato, a nutrition and wellness coach in Los Angeles.
To select the most sustainably fished sardines, visit Seafoodwatch.org.
Best of all, once you get used to them, they're super easy to prepare. You can eat them raw, baked, broiled with infused oil, grilled (just add a dash of salt, pepper, garlic and lemon), mixed into salads, pastas and sauce or in salad dressing.
Or, just keep it simple.
"I love eating sardines with lemon, salt and avocado on dark rye bread," Granato adds.
Here are two easy-to-make recipes starring sardines as a key ingredient.
Pasta Perfecta with Sardines and Capers
Yield: Serves 4 to 6
- 1 pound fettuccine or thick spaghetti
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs, from toasted bread
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, reserved from can
- 2 cans King Oscar Sardines with Cracked Pepper
- 2 tablespoons drained capers
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- Cracked pepper reserved from can
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Fresh basil
- Salt to taste
- Cook pasta according to package instructions, drain.
- Brown the breadcrumbs over medium heat in a tablespoon of the reserved oil, stirring frequently, 3-5 minutes, then remove.
- Add remaining oil, sardines, capers and lemon zest to pan, sprinkle with cracked pepper and salt to taste, stir gently until heated through, about 2 minutes.
- Add pasta, breadcrumbs and parsley to the mixture and gently combine. Garnish with fresh basil.
Potato Salad with Sardines
Yield: 6 to 8 servings
- 1 1/2 pounds yellow and red potatoes
- 1 cup fresh peas
- 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup Kalamata olives, pitted
- 2 tablespoon salted capers, well rinsed and drained
- 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- Cracked pepper reserved from can
- 1/4 cup olive oil, including oil reserved from can
- Juice of one lemon
- 3 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- Coarse salt to taste
- 1 can King Oscar Sardines with Cracked Pepper
- Cook potatoes until tender. Drain and let cool enough to handle. Peel and cube potatoes, place into mixing bowl.
- Add the peas, onion, olives, capers, parsley, red pepper and cracked pepper. Pour in oil, lemon juice and vinegar. Season to taste with salt. Toss gently. Transfer to serving dish. Add sardines, let sit for 30 minutes, serve at room temperature. Try adding sliced boiled egg along with the sardines
Recipes courtesy of King Oscar USA