By Alyssa Morlacci
Updated on 17. Nov. 2020

Sardines' rich flavor and texture has made them a staple of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Read up on what makes this delicious small fish so healthy here.

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  • ...are heart-healthy.
    Sardines contain powerful omega-3 fatty acids which support cardiovascular health.
  • ...stimulate the metabolism.
    The high amount of protein in sardines stimulates the metabolism more than carbohydrates.
  • ...are a good source of vitamin B6.
    Sardines contain vitamin B6, which helps the body store and utilize energy from food.
  • ...strengthen your bones.
    Sardines contain calcium, an important mineral for bone health.
  • ...are energizing.
    Sardines are rich in protein, which helps keep you energized throughout the day.
  • ...keep you fit.
    The high protein count and low carb count in sardines helps keep the body fit.

What You Should Know About

Whether in Spain, Portugal or Italy: sardines - preferably from the grill - are one of the most beloved staples of the Mediterranean diet. 


Sardines grow very fast and reproduce well - this ensures a constant supply, so you can buy them at any time of the year.


Sardines have a delicate, rich and oily flavor and consistency. 

Find all our recipes with sardines here.

How Healthy Are Sardines?

While sardines' oiliness sometimes earns them a reputation as a fatty fish, they are actually very healthy. They contain slightly more fat than other more lean types of fish, but still contain only 5 g of fat per 100 g serving, which is relatively low. They're also low in calories and have no carbohydrates, making them a great dieting food. Above all, sardines score points with their high content of beneficial polyunsaturated fatty acids, which help keep the heart healthy, and the important trace element iodine, which helps promote thyroid health.

Calories 124
Protein 21 g
Fat 4.5 g
Carbohydrates 0 g
Fiber 0 g

Shopping and Cooking Tips


Fresh sardines are a bit hard to get in the U.S., although many specialty food stores and most dedicated fish stores will have them in stock. Just make sure to call ahead. For most recipes, though, canned sardines will work just as well as fresh, and often actually contain more flavor. 


Fresh sardines go bad very quickly and should be eaten no longer than a day after purchasing. In contrast, sardines preserved in oil last almost indefinitely. Many people even think that oil-preserved sardines taste better the longer you store them.


If you're working with fresh sardines, it's best to have them skinned and gutted at the store. Afterwards you only need to rinse the fish inside and outside and pat dry with kitchen paper. By the way, the bones of very small sardines are usually so fine that you can eat them without any problems. If you're working with preserved sardines, simply remove them from the jar and start cooking. No need to pat them dry beforehand-- the remaining oil on the skin actually adds tons of flavor.

What to Make With Sardines

Sardines' strong flavor make them a pleasure to cook with. In the Mediterranean, they're the basis of numerous super quick summery meals that come together in minutes. One of the most classic Mediterranean summer meals is grilled or fried sardines, served with a simple green salad. For jarred sardines, a classic snack is serving them on toast brushed with some tomato and a little garlic. When they're not the star of the meal, a small amount of sardines adds tons of flavor to a variety of dishes. Try adding them to your next pasta or pizza for a delicious coastal Mediterranean flavor. 

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