SARDINES - ONE OF THE BEST FOODS TODAY
by Lawrence Wilson, MD
© March 2015, The Center For Development
The humble sardine is emerging as one of the best foods for everyone. Sardines are very small fish that live in the oceans of the world, particularly the Atlantic Ocean. They are healthful for the following reasons:
1. Very high in omega-3 fatty acids. 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, rather than pasture land. Sardines are a wonderful source of high-quality omega-3 fatty acids. To read more about this topic, please read Omega-3 Fatty Acids on this site.
2. High in vitamin D3. I find that everyone needs more vitamin D, as a general rule. The sun is not providing enough, even in those who like to sunbathe, and even in those who live in sunny, Southern climates. Sardines are a rich source of this very essential vitamin. To read more, please read Vitamin D on this site.
3. Low in 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 apparently the mercury concentrates in the sardineÕs spinal cord that is removed in the boneless ones. Many people say they also taste better.
All of the larger fish, even salmon, can concentrate mercury up to a million times more than the lowly sardine. I do not agree with some health authorities who recommend some of the larger fish. They are nutritious, but they are very high in mercury and I find the mercury shows up quickly on hair mineral tests if one eat even one serving of salmon per week, for example. To read more, please read Mercury on this website.
4. High in protein. Sardines provide a complete and balanced protein that is easily utilized by human beings.
5. Very high in RNA and DNA. Sardines are rich in purines. These are nucleic acids that are proteins needed to rebuild body tissues. For fast oxidizers, in particular, they can balance the oxidation rate. However, they are fine for everyone.
6. A decent source of bioavailable minerals. Sardines contain many minerals, among them calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium, some zinc, and others. There are few others, such as raw dairy products, some cooked vegetables and some nut and seed butters.
7. Very high in coenzyme Q-10. Co Q-10 is a very essential nutrient that most people do not get enough of. It is required for energy production in the cells, and is especially important for the health of the heart and the brain. Sardines are among the richest food source of coenzyme Q-10.
8. Healthful organ meat and nerve tissue. When sardines are processed, the heads are removed, but the organs remain, and are healthful, in moderation. If one eats larger fish and other animal foods, these are removed. Animals such as bears that eat salmon, for example, know that a little organ meat is superb for oneÕs health. Unfortunately, most organ meats today, such as liver and kidney, are too contaminated with toxic metals to be eaten on a regular basis. However, the small size of the sardine makes its organs acceptable as a daily food.
9. Wild caught. Most all sardines are still caught with nets in the ocean. This means they eat what they like, swim where they wish, and are a lot healthier and cleaner than most fish sold today. Most fish today are farm-raised. A few fish farms are quite health-conscious. Many are not healthful places at all – fish lie almost motionless surrounded by their own urine and feces until they are harvested.
10. A developmental food. Development, as the word is used on this website, is a particular process that some human beings go through that enhances brainpower and the immune response. Sardines are one of the few foods on planet earth that contribute to this process. To read more about this amazing topic, please read Mental Or Spiritual Development on this website.
Other developmental foods are quality eggs and meats, organic blue and yellow corn, mustard, and kelp, a sea vegetable. Others include most well-cooked vegetables, except for the night shade family of vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, all peppers and eggplant).
11. Low in cost, and high in convenience. Sardines are relatively low in cost, much less than other fish. They are also convenient because they come cooked and easily eaten. We find no problems with the aluminum or steel cans in which they are packed. The canned sardines are actually better preserved and therefore fresher than most ÒfreshÓ fish that are transported sometimes thousands of miles before they are cooked.
These are the main reasons for eating sardines. Most adults need 3 to 4 cans weekly of the 3.75 ounce cans. If your cans are smaller, you will need more of them to get enough omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D for your bodyÕs needs. If you eat this many, do not take additional supplements of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Both sardines and the supplements are not needed.
HOW TO EAT SARDINES AND ENJOY THEM VERY MUCH
Sardines make an excellent, high-protein, low-calorie snack or small meal. For those who want to watch their weight, sardines are also superb. Sardines have a slightly fishy taste. So make sure they are as fresh as possible by looking at the expiration date on the can. Here are ways to make them that taste better if you donÕt like their flavor.
1. I eat them plain from the can. I spice them up with sea salt, garlic powder, or a little cayenne powder or other spice.
2. Put some of your favorite mustard on them if you donÕt like the taste.
3. Mash them with a fork, add mayonnaise and some chopped celery and/or onions to make sardine salad, very much like tuna salad. Most people cannot taste the difference between them.
4. You could add the mashed sardines to your favorite dip such as a bean dip. Mix the sardines into the dip and just eat. Put some cayenne pepper with it if you still donÕt like the taste.
5. Make sardine tacos by mashing them or putting them whole inside a corn tortilla or preferably a blue corn tortilla or blue corn taco shell. Add a few cooked vegetables or perhaps some cilantro and salsa to taste.
6. Mix the mashed sardines with some cooked rice noodles, and perhaps add soy sauce to add flavor.
ARE SARDINES BAD BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT FRESH, AND THEY COME IN AN ALUMINUM CAN?
The answer is that most sardines in the can are quite fresh, though not totally so, of course. Fresh sardines are hard to find. Some Oriental markets sell dried sardines, and these are fine, too.
The nutrients are still present in the canned ones. Be sure the sardines you buy have not passed their expiration date.
Sardine cans are all coated on the inside so the sardines do not come into contact with the aluminum or steel can.
WHY DO MANY PEOPLE DISLIKE THE TASTE OF SARDINES?
Some sardines taste a little fishy. I find the skinless and boneless ones taste better, but it is an individual matter. It is wise to learn to ignore the taste because this is one food that is extremely healthful for everyone.
WHAT BRANDS AND HOW MANY CANS OF SARDINES SHOULD A PERSON EAT?
1. The brand of sardines does not seem to matter much. However, the ones from the Atlantic Ocean may have a little less mercury than the ones from the Pacific Ocean. As stated above, the skinless and boneless sardines have a lot less mercury in them, and that is good. You donÕt need the skin and bones, although they are nutritious. I suppose you can remove the spinal cord yourself if you like the skins.
The smoked sardines, or ones packed in water, olive oil or mustard, are all good. Those packed in tomato sauce are okay, but tomato sauce is not ideal because it is a fruit and a member of the nightshade family of plants that are somewhat irritating for the body.
2. Have three to four cans each week of the 3.75 ounce size. This will provide enough omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D for most people, so you wonÕt need a supplement. I have seen no appreciable mercury or other toxicity at this level of sardine consumption. By contrast, most all other fish and all shellfish, even wild-caught salmon, contain too much mercury. I would avoid them all.
3. Children. Children under the age of about five or six usually do not need extra omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Over the age of six, most children need about 300 mg of omega-3 fatty acids as well as about 600 iu of vitamin D3. Instead of taking these in pill form, a can of sardines a week, for example, mixed up with some cream or other foods to make them tasty, is excellent for children.
Children over the age of about 11 usually need two cans of sardines per week, OR about 600 mg of EPA and DHA (omega-3 fatty acids) and about 1500 units of a vitamin D3 supplement daily.